Sarrouy, Alix Didier & Campos, Ricardo: Art citizenship: Portuguese youth and the urgency of action

Youth cultures and subcultures have been described as being particularly dynamic in terms of aesthetical and symbolic creations in various fields, namely by using music, street-art and digital media (Bennett, 2018; Campos, 2018; Dahlgren, 2013). Political agency and civic participation also develop alternative and unorthodox creativities, through expressions that combine ideological combat with ludic aspects (Martin, 2015). These praxes play a key role in the way through which youth commits to social causes, joining movements of resistance and engaging in dialogue/conflict with given categories of class, gender, ethnicity, amongst others. An ever-growing body of literature is pointing out precisely the political role of DIY cultures as well as cultural activism, capturing the convergence between cause-based engagement and artistic expression (Bennett & Guerra, 2018; Davies, 2009; Wood, 2012).

The interdisciplinary team of our ArtCitizenship Research Project applies qualitative methods of research mostly via multi-sited ethnography (Cefaï, 2010; Charmaz, 2006; Geertz, 1973; Marcus, 1995). We will bring results based on Portuguese artivists, revealing the impact and the complexity of human interactions aiming towards an ideal goal in citizenship, in which creativity and collectiveness are key elements (Shepard, 2011). We expect to show how, in Portugal, the so-called “millennials” who lived through the 2008-2014 financial crisis, develop particular methods and artistic tools, with an acute sense of compromise. Having a glocal consciousness, the majority of the 60 artivists we have interviewed, privilege local impact, peer-to-peer, often with micro-financing and intensive cooperation.

Art worlds are still grounds for broader and urgent action. It may be for local change, for global awareness, just as it may be for very personal reasons and effects. Based on the idea of “common culture” (Willis, 1990), we shall problematise everyday interactions impacted by artforms. Art becomes an embodied tool for an “esthetical life” (Shusterman, 1991), namely by insisting on what Dewey named “art as an experience” (2010).