Protest art has been practiced throughout history, especially serving the anti-war movement in the mid-20th century. Today, art has become a powerful and international language to speak against all forms of human rights violations, along with other activism. For example, during the Arab Spring, the arts were used to make anti-authoritarian statements. The photographer and graphic designer, Nermine Hammam, captures the fundamental frailty of rule by force in the global community in her exhibition Cairo Year One by combining the realities of the conflict with a surreal and idealistic background. Tunisian folk-rock singer Emel Mathlouthi and rapper El General used music to rail against the state brutality and the suffering of Egypt’s youth and working class, which attracted considerable attention from protestors and transformed into a powerful protest song. The protest art of the Arab Spring has since joined a broader dialogue between protest art of the past and present, in mediums as diverse as books, film, performance art, and multimedia.
Government corruption in Turkey had been an open secret. Yet, the public felt apathetic about their ability to change the situation. The Campaign of Darkness for Light gave people an easy and no-risk action everyone could take – simply turning off their lights at the same time each evening – and thus show their displeasure with the system. Such a simple action – a flick of the switch – and yet when people saw that their neighbors had turned off their lights, too, they felt the power of their collective voices. 30 million people turned off and on their lights to demand that the government act against corruption, soon they began to invent their own ways to speak out by gathering on the streets, marching and banging pots and pans.