I have long admired art that defends a cause. Be it Rockwell’s Freedoms or political cartoons. But as much as I admired it and care for human rights and have strong opinions about a lot of subjects, I never was inspired to do art for a cause. I tried to do art that projected positive images (strong women in plausible armor etc.) but I never did images where the purpose of the image is to defend a position.
That changed recently because I became very interested and somewhat involved in the local protests against hikes in tuition fees and even more against Law 78. This law poses a serious threat to freedom of association and manifestation and has been critiqued by the local Bar Association, Amnesty International and the United Nations. That law was mainly created because students had been having protests every night at 8:30 PM downtown Montreal and sometimes there have been acts of violence (mainly by law enforcement I might add.)
In response to that law that says that any protest of more than 50 people must be approved by the Police departments, a movement was started to have people bang pots and pans every day at 8PM from their porches and windows. The first few days they banged them on their porches, then on the sidewalks and within the week, they were having pot banging parades in the streets of their neighborhoods. The 8:30 demonstrations never abated, even in the worst weather. So instead of having a daily protest, the government ended up with at least 2 nightly protests. One more hardcore downtown Montreal, and one all over Montreal, with kids and elderly people in their neighborhoods. Soon people started protesting in smaller towns and villages, they started banging their pots in front of politicians’ houses and the pot banging parades sometimes joined in with the nightly protests. Occupy Montreal took inspiration from the neighborhood protests and started they occupations in other places than downtown. The thing is, all of these protests are now theoretically illegal, and the police has arrested more than 2000 protesters so far, but they can’t arrest 2000 protesters every night.
Images, web sites and videos, open letters and articles are also supporting the protesters. That inspired me to do a little and do what I could to support the cause (other than banging pots in my neighborhood!)
Le patriote is an iconic image representing one of the historical Patriotes, French Canadians who fought British invaders and demanded democratic reforms in the 1830’s. It is so well known that everyone in Quebec would recognise the update, a student brandishing the red flag that is the symbol of the protests.
Pot is not legal in Quebec, but possession of small amounts is not criminal (you would get a ticket for it, but not get a criminal record or appear in court), it’s sad that banging pots in public, unless you are less than 50 or have had the route of your protest approved by the police CAN get you in court with fines of thousands of dollars. In any case, I’m not a pot smoker but I’m a pot banger and I think both should be legal.
I think this is just a start and I’m looking forward to do more and better images to defend values I find important.