Sunday, November 25, 2012

Projects that inspire me: South Africa you rock!!!

My research is taking me to such good places! Can't wait to visit home! The discovery of projects that goes beyond what I could possibly imagine, makes me feel like an inadequate and lazy artist. While I'v been indulging in what it means to make art for myself, these artists and curators were moving comfort zones and doing things. I would like to mention some of these amazing people and projects here, because they are really inspiring me to do something. Look at the Keleketla!Library project, The Centre for Historical Re-enactments, Assemblage Studios, Cuss collective and Gugulective

If anything the arts in SA at the moment shows that we are in transformation, young artists and curators looking for new languages to express this identity that we are seeking and to respond to the conditions that South Africans live in. It is clear that art is reviving the public realm, that it is looking towards the community and no longer looking to hang on the walls in Mooikloof and Sandton.

I like what Rangoato Hlasane one of  the creators of Keleketla! is saying here in Liberator magazine:
“I have no intentions of spending time in [an] isolated studio making images for galleries as a devotion or career... I really do feel that art for walls is sometimes overrated. I feel that it creates disillusions [sic]. I make art, and I find value in the process; it is a method for my sanity, my reflection on things and a chance to imagine a different world. I hope that my work does that, enables... contemplation on things.”
 "The general society knows very little about art and the art that is being created with assumptions of changing the world. We have an inherent self-importance. It's unhealthy, makes us defensive, inflates egos and brings us all down when it all falls down. There can only be a few art superstars. This may sound like sour grapes and it would be if I wasn't doing well with my work, but I am. I just don’t have any illusions and consider it a waste of time to lock myself in a studio only to spend my life drinking wines and distressing over capitalist gallerists. My point is that art processes, rather than outcomes, have the potential for impact". 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Me in the winter

This was a little sketch I made to illustrate how cold I felt in Berlin in the beginning of the year. Winter is here again...Background and frontal figure doesn't really blend, probably I need to find a better solution.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Cani Abbaiano - journal

 Our class created a journal for our one class called Economy of arts under the guidance of journalist Manuela Gandini who regularly contributes to Alfabeta 2 a critical Italian journal focussed on arts,culture and society.The title of the journal translates as The dogs are barking. You can get the actual journal here in pdf but it is in Italian. 

 Here is the editorial that I wrote. 
“An old west African proverb compares the artist to a dog. Positioned at the interface of the
human and the natural worlds, the dog in most ancient African societies enjoyed slippery and
highly ambiguous cultural status.
Neither a human being, nor a wild animal, it was nevertheless admitted in the domestic
sphere where it was recognised as man's best friend.
Loyal to a fault, it was committed to its master to the point of helping him hunt wild animals.
This is why it enjoyed special rights.
Because a dog was never happier than when its nose was up another's rear end- the anus,
that sensory button of the world - it also symbolised debasement and degradation.
Just like the dog, the artist also enjoyed special rights, including the right to conduct
forbidden experiments. His task was to translate society to itself”. – Achille Mbembe, Cape
Times, June 5 2012
The economic crisis has stimulated a range of conversations against the capital and consumer driven
system that the Western world have been comfortably nesting in for years. It has illuminated the
flaws of a system that has dominated and affected the core values of Western society the 21 st
century. It has in fact illuminated us to see that change is necessary, that is also a change in the
values that informs our decisions.

It is from here that we can see why it is necessary to create an enquiry also from the perspective of
the arts. The most obvious reason is that economic crisis’s or government financial policies affect
also the cultural sector. Producers of culture needs financial support and space in order to live, and
produce work.

When analysing the current situation crashing financial markets, greed driven corporations and
speculation are terms that superficially touch on the causes of this crisis. It easy to lay out the
blame on investment bankers, CEO’s and governments, but it did not come over night with a few
evil personas. It is a system of values - a culture - that has been the basis of the production and
consumption that we live in. We are not innocent bystanders or just simply victims of this system;
we were also participants in it. This includes the cultural sector; us as artists, curators and writers.
Thus as cultural workers we need to understand how we fit in to this economy, what systems of
production we use and what we do to change or uphold it.

Starting with a historical analysis allows us to see how we got here. Understanding how the arts
came to reflect the financial system of speculation, understanding the invention of the art market.
This also reflects on systems of power and how it came to be in the hands of a select few. We
look to the economic crisis of the past, the great depression, reflecting how it was dealt with even
sometimes in bazaar ways.

If one can understand the past we can reflect on the current situation. How is art valued today, what
is its role in society and how does political policies and the financing of it affect it. In the globalised
world we can learn from each other and trace similarities. An analysis of different concepts of
financing and public perception in different geographical areas starting from the sophisticated
funding system of Northern Europe to the complications of funding in a developing country; South
Africa. Another analysis shows the political complications affect art in Columbia and the review of
public art policies in Taiwan. We understand that we are not isolated.

A final part looks at how it has come to this, how the world has been perceived theoretically and
philosophically and how artist imagine and approach the situations. One might argue against or an
autonomous group of artists occupying and appropriating corporate buildings and urban spaces, or
Utopic imagined spaces as unrealistic, but it serves as mirrors held up to imagine what can be, or
what should not be.

One might ask why it is important that we as cultural workers publish a volume of articles on art
and the economy. The answer is this, we are the dogs, we need to dig up the old bones, we need to
start barking at the gates to warn of the thieves that enter to prevent them from stealing the good
ideals of society. We are not wild animals outside of the house; we are part of it and will contribute
to improving it.