January 9, 2013
October 30, 2012
I want to focus on optimism itself, as a way of seeing the world that is both wide open and tightly closed. As I wrote in my blog entry, optimism balances between hopefulness and hopelessness.
The attitude of optimism is absolutely important if there is to be any hope that what is toxic in our environment, larger societies and local communities, can improve. However, optimism is not totally positive. It can manifest as willful blindness, ignorance and misplaced and therefore potentially dangerous good intention. Putting a positive spin on an issue often means that the issue itself is dismissed, the toxicity not fully investigated, or that is covered up rather than resolved. For example, at a local symposium I attended recently, I was astonished to hear another artist advocating that what needed to change about the future oil/energy crisis was simply attitude. It was going to happen anyway – fossil fuels could be used to gay abandon until exhausted, and then we could rely on amazing human ingenuity to provide an alternative.
The images here are called “petit fours” – like tiny delectable treats, they are small gestures. I have also chosen to use a title in French in the hope that the audience will pronounce it cautiously, or incorrectly. Another group of related images is called “faux pas”. In Aotearoa New Zealand, I am constantly frustrated with cultural ignorance – not of France! –but by the lack of will to learn, to understand and to engage with Maori. Given the short history of New Zealand as a colonised nation, there should be far fewer excuses for NOT knowing. Rhetoric around bi-culturalism has become increasingly empty and patronising, with encouragement being given to positively move forwards together rather than to negatively dwell on the conflicts and issues of the past. As a Pakeha artist, I suppose what I have felt is a kind of shyness – a hesitance to make visual statement (I have no trouble speaking my mind though). These works themselves still skirt around the edge.
I want the photographs I make to be part of a larger art discourse. While this perhaps is my own private optimism, I don’t see photography being separate from other media, and so refer freely in my images to art that has become part of my memory archive for one reason or other. There is a tongue in cheek aspect to referencing monumental acts by international art stars, or images and objects firmly embedded in the art historical canon, but making art relevant to daily thinking and activity is, I think, important. And so, head in the clouds/head in the sand – optimism as the extremes of daydream and denial – determinedly seeing the world with a rosy tint or a golden glow, a beautiful bloom.
August 10, 2012
Audio files of the Roundtable discussion will be uploaded very soon.
August 10, 2012
The Interesting Links page will list links to external sites that we think might be of interest to Toxic Blooms. Please send us any that you think we’ll like!
July 27, 2012
Thanks to all roundtable participants for your presentation at the AAANZ conference and for contributing to the very productive discussion that followed.
Excerpts from the audio recording will be posted shortly.
July 11, 2012
The Toxic Blooms conference session on Friday 13 July, 1 – 5pm, will include Gary Sangster as informal roundtable moderator.