Activist Art in ‘Perpetual Revolution’ Left Blake Gopnik Hoping for a Revolt

THE DAILY PIC: At the International Center of Photography, activist art that makes art seem trivial.

THE DAILY PIC (#1722): I’ve seen plenty of good shows in New York over recent months, but none have had the utter urgency of “Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change,” which opened a few days ago at the International Center of Photography in New York. My heart was in my throat for most of the show, as I watched how our supercharged visual culture has faced—or failed to face, or aggravated—the challenges of environmental destruction, mass migration, global jihad, LGBT discrimination, racism, and the alt-right. Today’s Pic is a frame from an activist video called Three Seconds, put together by the rapper Prince Ea, filmmaker Spencer Sharp and the production company Change for Balance, denouncing the damage that we humans continue to do to our planet—the only one we’ve got. It had me close to tears, of sorrow and rage. (Click here to watch it online, if you aren’t one of the millions who already have.)

There’s no one more optimistic than I am about the power and importance of art, even when it’s just for art’s sake. But every once in a while, especially when prodded by a show like “Perpetual Revolution,” I want to shout, “F*** art, it’s time to do something!”

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