Congratulations to Stephen Duncombe for the publication of Aeffect: The Affect and Effect of Artistic Activism (2024).

The past decade has seen an explosion in the hybrid practice of “artistic activism,” as artists have turned toward activism to make their work more socially impactful and activists have adopted techniques and perspectives from the arts to make their interventions more creative. Yet questions haunt the practice: Does artistic activism work aesthetically? Does it work politically? And what does “working” even mean when one combines art and activism? In Æffect, author Stephen Duncombe sets out to address these questions at the heart of the field of artistic activism.

Written by the co-founder and current Research Director of the internationally recognized Center for Artistic Activism, Æffect draws on Duncombe’s more than twenty-five years of experi­ence in the field and one hundred in-depth interviews with artistic activists worldwide. More than a mere academic exercise, the theory, research, and tools in this book lay the groundwork for artistic activists to evaluate and strengthen their practice and to create better projects. The exploration of good artistic activism is grounded in three sets of concerns. 1) Change: Upon what theories of change is artistic activism based? 2) Intention: What do we hope and expect artistic activism to do, and how does it do this? 3) Evaluation: What actually happens as the result of an artistic activist intervention? Can it be measured?

Æffect is rich with examples that demonstrate successful artistic activism, including Undo­cubus, an old bus painted “No Fear” across its side that was driven cross-country by a group of undocumented immigrant activists; Journal Rappé, a video show created by Senegalese rappers who created long-form investigative reports by rapping the current news in French and Wolof; and War on Smog, a staged a public performance piece by artistic activists in the city of Chongqing in Southwest China. Scannable QR codes are included to provide tools that help readers assess the æffect of their artistic activism.