Cover: Acts of Resistance

Acts of Resistance

The Power of Art to Create a Better World
Amber Massie-Blomfield


£16.99 | 27 June 2024 | ISBN: 9781804440513


£16.99 | 27 June 2024 | ISBN: 9781804440742

‘A fascinating, passionate and political case for art’s world-changing power, by a fizzingly good writer’ – Robert Macfarlane

A rich and broad overview of socially purposeful art. Everyone interested in social change should read it’ – Brian Eno

In Acts of Resistance, Amber Massie-Blomfield writes about the artists who have treated the protest site as their canvas and contributed to movements that have transformed history – from the musicians in Auschwitz to the four-year Siege of Sarajevo, from the to ACT UP’s 1989 invasion of the New York Stock Exchange, to the Niger Delta and indigenous communities in Bolivia.

Including stories and artists from across the globe, including Susan Sontag, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and Claude Cahun – alongside collectives, communities, amateurs and anonymous creators who have used their art as an expression of resistance – this fascinating book asks what is the purpose of art in a world on fire? Why are artists compelled to paint, write, dance and make music, even when the odds are stacked against them? And how can artistic creation be a genuine form of political resistance?

Combining cultural criticism, history and memoir, Acts of Resistance is an urgent reminder that art can make a human life more bearable, and can be a means of building the things that a person needs to survive the bleakest circumstances. It is a testament to that idea, and to the people who have risked their lives to prove it is so. While their stories are remarkable, they are also a reminder that each of us can use creativity in defense of our humanity.

‘Artists can be the guardians of truth. While politicians may retreat in the hope of a later advance, artists can stand on principles. Through their work and public commitments, they are part of the struggle for social and economic justice, universal human rights, and for the protection of the earth’s riches, a common treasury for us all to share in equality and peace. Amber Massie-Blomfield’s book tells the stories of some of the most notable artists whose work has made a lasting contribution in this epic battle’Ken Loach, director of Cathy Come Home and I, Daniel Blake

‘A diverse, global tapestry of artistic defiance in the face of conflict and oppression. Massie-Blomfield brings to light artists who persisted in creating meaning from senselessness, bringing solace amid strife, and keeping hope alive through expression. For those already convinced of art’s political potential, Acts of Resistance serves as inspiring affirmation. For open-minded skeptics, it provides compelling grounds to reconsider dismissed possibilities. For all, it illuminates how creative spirits everywhere remain undimmed, even facing history’s harshest glares. Acts of Resistance is ultimately a wonderful and important tribute to artistic perseverance against the odds’Nitin Sawhney

‘We hear a lot about how the arts contribute to the national economy. In this passionate and timely book Amber Massie-Blomfield inspires the reader to resist the very basis of that question, sharing the beauty, anger and invention with which artists have defended and expanded our idea of what it means to be a social species. Massie-Blomfield’s reflective, joyful and rousing argument is seriously, hopeful encouragement’Toby Jones

‘A fascinating, passionate and political case for art’s world-changing power, by a fizzingly good writer’Robert Macfarlane

‘A passionate and personal exploration of the tricky relationship between art and activism around the world, full of surprising stories of hope and resistance in dark times.’Dorian Lynskey, author of 33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs

‘I loved this book and found it an essential and inspiring read. A brilliantly written and detailed account of those who have taken up creative, imaginative and spiritual arms to oppose the forces of war, injustice, discrimination and inequality. It’s a must read for our times, a call, an inspiration and a road map for a better way of being”Juliet Stevenson

About the Author

Amber Massie-Blomfield is a non-fiction writer and arts professional. Formerly Executive Director of Complicité theatre company, she led the first ever stage adaptation of Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead. Previously, she was Executive Director of Camden People’s Theatre, where she was selected by the Evening Standard as one of ’18 Women to Inspire the Next Generation’ and received the Special Achievement Award at the 2018 Off West End Awards in recognition of her work. Her first book, Twenty Theatres to See Before You Die, was shortlisted for the Theatre Book Prize and recipient of the Society of Authors’ Michael Meyer Award, as well as Gladstone Library’s Political Writer-in-Residence Award. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and as an activist, she has also been involved with Writers Rebel and Extinction Rebellion.

Amber Massie-Blomfield