Ideas and notes behind project. Ten Human Years of Preta Eshana.
I became interested in finding ways to adopt, negate and subvert the imagery, symbolism and sounds of those in positions of authority who use their power to oppress, demonise and instil fear.
I wanted to become involved in a project that challenged structures of prevailing orthodoxy while simultaneously exploring the roles of artists and activists trying to exact change in the world.
Another question intrigued me, what are some of the reasons behind people feeling uncomfortable or hostile when entering into conversations of a spiritual nature? I wanted to explore whether, for some, this might be an intrinsic component to examine for people trying to bring about deep, lasting societal change?
Witnessing from my own experience how for some people, a new relationship with spirituality (outside the traditional parameters of how it is ordinarily defined) became the catalyst for meaningful change, I developed a desire to work on a project that addressed all of the above.
My main focus became finding a way to collaborate with artists from diverse backgrounds to explore ways that ignited conversations and inspire others to make creative transformations on both a personal and societal level.
Formulations of ideas behind project.
The seed of the project began to germinate during the time Liverpool held the European capital of culture. The event brought attention and money to the city, however many local artists were unhappy with regards to how funding for projects had been distributed.
I began questioning the substance and lasting impact of these events,
I was reminded of the Toxteth Riots in 1981 and the uproar following Michael Heseltine’s (then environment secretary) decision to plough millions of pounds of regeneration money into an international flower festival, when the people of Toxteth were desperate for housing, employment and an end to institutional police racism.
Was it the case that art projects that attempt to challenge structures of government, big business, and advertising were deliberately overlooked for art that appealed as ‘spectacle’.
I began wondering whether it was possible to take an art project that on the surface seemed to ‘tick the boxes’ of modern day acceptability but upon closer inspection began to disrupt and challenge accepted ways of living and subservience to power.
I looked at how the imagery of the pink triangle, originally used in Nazi concentration camps to identify homosexuals, had by the 1970’s been appropriated as the main symbol for gay rights protestors.
Now in 2016 there are a significant proportion of people who for a variety of reasons are tired and cynical of mass produced, popular culture, who see beyond society as spectacle and are turning to more community based, independent organisations and retailers. They may be doing this for various reasons: It may simply be for fashion, as a means of creating a seeming uniqueness of identity, or it may be for political motives, understanding that stronger communities weave together social and economic ties and enable us to become much more aware of the consequences of our actions.
Whatever the reasons, big business is beginning to take note, and many products are now being rebranded to give them a local, artisan, craft or community flavour.
PR companies are yet again, adopting images of evolution/revolution and change. Rebranding and selling it back to the consumer.
Is there a way to subvert the above? If so how would this be done?
Project as manifest object
To produce a limited edition album. For the album, to contain separate pieces of artwork, prints, a book, photographs. To make a documentary that chronicles all of the artists involved.
To take the idea of using a high end limited edition crafted product, to exploit its appearance, for it to appear as more than the product itself, so it becomes a product as lifestyle/experience.
The album itself, however, challenges all of the above. It becomes a direct challenge to accepted norms of a ‘post modern’ society.
Main problems within the album framed within two points:
1.Causes of material decline, manufacture of consent, the dilution of connection to the vulnerable amongst the liberal classes, the rise of the demagogue in the US and UK, the cultural and material effects of capitalism and neo-liberal policies.
2. The loss of spirituality as motivating force for change.
Using Filmmakers, poets, writers, philosophers, artists, activists, voices of the unheard and those creating new pathways of understanding, we are taken on a journey that deconstructs the illusion of commodities as a real source of happiness.
Positive disruptions and sowing seeds for future change.
To take the project to different cities with different revolving artists giving presentations/ readings/performances to art galleries/ community centres/ pubs/ places of worship.
To give space for new conversations to begin, possibly holding workshops for communities to make their living recordings of new visions.
Since my late teenage years, I have been interested in Situationism. Guy de Bord, one of the founding members of the Situationist Internationale wrote the following almost 50 years ago:
“The spectacle is a social relation between people that is mediated by an accumulation of images that serve to alienate us from a genuinely lived life. The image is thus a historical mutation of the form of commodity fetishism.”
I am by no means a staunch situationist, but I agree with the situationist view that ‘advanced capitalism breeds dissatisfaction and thus human desire needs to be fulfilled by finding alternatives to capitalist society.’
Guy De Bord wrote the following:
“The more he identifies with the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own life and his own desires. The spectacle’s estrangement from the acting subject is expressed by the fact that the individual’s gestures are no longer his own; they are the gestures of someone else who represents them to him.”
I believe the project outlined above can act as a positive disrupter creating an echo of the situationist idea of ‘detournement’ the concept of recontextualising an original piece of work to transform its meaning.
In this sense, the project ceases to be a mere commodity used for a temporal cathartic experience and acts as a portal, a focal platform to ignite belief in meaningful transitions.