Acceptable Terrorist Actions: Art, Activism, and ATSA

By Susan Jane Douglas.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article raises questions about the artist as a producer consumer, a term that describes the Montreal-based collective Action Terroriste Socialement Acceptable (ATSA). Formed in 1997 for the production and dissemination of information on sociopolitical issues ranging from overconsumption to homelessness in this age of globalization, ATSA’s homespun activities belong with those of a generation of artists whose use of public space is fundamentally oriented by media culture and for whom the marketplace represents empowerment. The backdrop for these activities is Quebec, Canada. Among other topics, the author writes about ATSA, art activism’s history in public space, and the aesthetics of this now largely symbolic environment. She argues that latent in ATSA is the idea of a dialectic between the order of human needs (life) and the order of artistic demands (cultural survival) but that self-promotion – and the design, advertising, and potential sale of products – is shifting the cultural values typically associated with activist practices.

Keywords: Art, Activism, ATSA, Quebec, Media

The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.105-112. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 852.562KB).

Dr. Susan Jane Douglas

Assistant Professor, Art History, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Writer, editor and curator Susan Jane Douglas, PhD, teaches contemporary art history and theory at the University of Guelph. Her areas of specialization include culture and art in contemporary Latin America, activist and public art, and world art exhibitions. She has lectured on the subject of Latin American and conceptual art and globalization at The Art Gallery of Ontario and The Power Plant (Canada), at the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and other universities. Her curatorial projects include the first exhibition of Gustavo Romano’s work in Canada, and the first on-line international exhibition of blog-based work titled “MOBLOG:ENTER” ( She has published extensively in Parachute, Art Papers, Canadian Art, nparadoxa, and Art News. She is the author of “Apuntes sobre las megamuestras de arte internacional: un planteo crítico [Notes on the phenomenon of the global art exhibitions].” Buenos Aires, Argentina: OPFyL, 2006).


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