Social Justice

Maeve Mclavin

Artist: Donna Bassin – also a film maker

“Since the election of Donald Trump, I have been inviting people into my studio to respond to the current socio-political state of the country through the co-creation of photographic portraits. Each portrait is a personal testimony and opportunity to resist the daily onslaught of obliteration and silencing.” – Donna Bassin

Includes Participation within the artwork itself.

Social justice as a blanket statement, refers to the issues of imbalance between us as individuals and society as a whole, usually measured by comparing the distribution of wealth, liberties and opportunities. However, when social justice is used in an artistic context, it is interpreted and defined in many different ways. What is referred to as social justice art, encompasses a wide range of visual and performative art in an aim to raise a type of “Critical Consciousness” or “Active Participation”. Social justice art not only draws attention to injustices but allows for the development of agency as a means to interrupt oppressive systematic patterns or individual behaviours. Many Social justice movements exists within our society as a constant reminder of one day creating individual and social transformation and generating awareness of injustices e.g., Racial injustice, gun violence, refugee crisis and food insecurity around the world.
The work of Donna Bassin clearly illustrates how social justice can be used in an artistic context. The name of the particular work I am referring to is ‘The Empowering’, an installation project that reflected the response of participants during the Trump presidency, through individual portraits. Looking through a lens of social justice, her work noticeably allows for “Active participation”, as she describes the portraits are representing the testimony of the individual, not her own personal ideology as an artist.