As humans, but also as artists, all of us have felt anxiety and fear. No matter how skillful we are and how long we’ve been doing something, there’s always that little “what if?” somewhere in the back of our minds.
In this 12-minute TEDx talk, photographer and activist Benjamin Von Wong talks about fear. Precisely, he talks about fear of irrelevance and how you can turn it into fuel for creating powerful and impactful art.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Ben and his art that merges with activism. He uses his skills to draw the public’s attention to environmental issues, and it always ends up with artworks that take our breath away. In Ben’s work, you’ll often see used plastic straws, cups, or bottles arranged in meaningful artworks. In some of his projects, he tackled the clothing industry’s impact on the environment. He also dealt with the problem of electronic waste and first-world child hunger. In a word, his artworks deal with the burning issues of today’s society and he is trying to change the world one photo at a time.
What we immediately see in Ben’s projects are epic photos paired with the statistics that make us think. And here on DIYP, we shared with you everything that went into creating Ben’s artwork: hours upon hours of collecting the material, sorting it, and building the set. Dozens of people involved: from volunteers to models and the photography crew. And naturally, the time needed for taking and editing the photos and turning them into the final project.
But what none of us sees is the person behind each project, and it’s not just in Ben’s case. We rarely see or understand what drives someone to create art, especially when it comes to activist art. In Ben’s case, the fuel is more often than not – fear. It’s the fear of irrelevance that I believe most of us feel when we create something, especially if we are into activism. “Is this relevant?” we may wonder. “Is it impactful enough?” There are many questions, and there is fear that what we do is not relevant in terms of the issues we’re trying to tackle.
In his TEDx talk, this is what Ben addresses. He talks about his work, but more than that, he talks about the person behind it and all the fears that ended up taking him to where he is now. So, make sure to watch this video and get inspired for turning your own fears into your greatest tool as a photographer and as an activist.