A concept that was raised during the TEZA week on more than one occasion was that we should no longer be wasting resources on making things. As a printmaker, I have been mulling over this dilemma.
Certainly we should be reducing our footprint, being efficient with resources and looking for healthier alternatives. I would argue however, that the majority of people who have chosen to live the life of an artist have done this already. An arts career comes with its own sacrifices, mostly financial. The visual artists I know all live very modest lives, they re-use everything, have just a few tech things to get them by. They have already de-teched and downsized by getting by on less through the choices they have made.
The commodification of art is one of the few ways that the trickle down theory actually works. The few artists who manage to make a living from selling their work in NZ have been working consistently for a long time, have supportive patrons and/or may have tapped into something fashionably unique. Good for them. These guys should be respected for their resilience. They are helping to bring in extra money into an industry that is reliant on public funding. And more often than not that money gained gets invested back into the arts community, or spent on necessities like food and kids clothes.
We makers are treated a bit like cash cows with people constantly asking us to donate works for fundraisers. I don’t mind this as it’s a good way to connect with projects I like, and people get to see what I do. Art Beat curated and organised by Warren Feeney is an example of this with makers working along-side the doers, visual art sales helping to fund a project that will bring visual art and music, performance, interactive and thought-provoking work into the Christchurch central city.
We need more creativity not less. Also more beauty. I want my eyes to sing. Our house is cracked and falling apart and sinking – eventually it will get fixed, I have kids so we live in a space with clutter everywhere. I like things on the walls because I can look at those and not see how disorganised my daily life is. They are works from friends that have passed on, mementos of projects I’ve been involved in, works from art-school friends whose careers are still rising or from those who no longer make art, or just interesting works that I have purchased. It’s great having them around. I find my kids staring at them which is a wonderful thing. They make me think about process and context. And because they are well made pieces they will last for decades. I’ll have no need to redo the decor as I can just dust and re-arrange them saving resources in that way.
On Monday last week the Creative Quarter was a hive of activity with volunteers cleaning up the site and having a bbq. By Thursday it was deserted and Brighton was back to quiet streets and the usual few souls mostly not wanting to engage. On Sunday both Callum and Ren turned up to take their stretch class but they missed each other by 5 minutes and there were no other takers. The streets are quiet but the TEZA free wifi is still working. To keep the TEZA momentum going and the spirit of optimism alive a group of us have decided to get together to make things keep talking art and issues.
Te Urutahi said that when it comes down to it all, we are just stardust. So if you think of it like that we aren’t actually making more stuff, we are just re-arranging what is already there. Hopefully the kids will get into it too and get off their screens.