“How are you ageing today?” Art, Activism and Ageing
In this blogpost, Dave Martin from The Centre for Policy on Ageing builds the case for creative social action as a tool to tackle ageism. Creative social action can provide the jolt to our inner mindsets, disrupt the status quo and liberate us to aspire to become the older people of the future!
Art activism and creative social action can contribute when it focuses on drawing attention to our inherent ageist tendencies and implicit fear of personal ageing; an outcome which is inextricably tied up with the “othering” or objectifying of older people!
We need as many strategies as possible to challenge and change our thinking about the implications of an ageing society, and in particular our own attitudes to our own ageing. Personally, I have recently started to greet friends, colleagues and some new acquaintances with the following enquiry – “How are you ageing today?”
It’s a somewhat jarring although positive enquiry. The intention is to introduce a disruption into everyday social interaction and prompt inquiry and discussion about society’s generally negative associations with the term ageing. It does this by provocatively turning negativity about ageing on its head, in a positive way.
This personal disruption of mine unashamedly draws upon the work of Adrian Piper, an American conceptual artist and philosopher whose work consistently set out to addresses various forms of discrimination such as ‘ostracism’, ‘otherness’, ‘racism’ etc. Her interactive work “My Calling (Card)” was something that Piper performed unannounced wherever she was that day from 1986 to 1990. (Piper, 2017).
I passionately believe in Art’s potential as an agent of change, and therefore feel that creative social action or activist art is a natural development with huge potential to challenge attitudes within and about an ageing society. Activist art is a term used to describe art that is grounded in the act of ‘doing’ and addresses political or social issues. (Tate, 2017)
“Art offers life; it offers hope; it offers the prospect of discovery….The arts offer opportunity for perspective, for perceiving alternative ways of transcending and of being in the world.” (Greene, 1995)
The Centre for Policy on Ageing is an independent charity promoting the interests of older people through research, policy analysis and the dissemination of information. The Centre aims to raise awareness of issues around all aspects of ageing and to support good practice. Its overarching focus is to discover and advocate what older people themselves want and need. www.cpa.org.uk