Posted: January 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

I’ve always strived to be good in my own terms. I remember while in high school some friends and I had this standing joke. If we didn’t know the answer to a question, perhaps didn’t know how to draw a cat, we would draw a rock with a tail. That meant the cat was behind the rock – and that would be written next to the sketch.

The above metaphor seems to be fitting with the situation the art-world finds itself in at the moment. Artists and creative people have always had the kind of skills needed to survive in the art-world.  That is just a myth though. Well, unless you are Damien Hirst, the wealthiest living artist in the world at the moment. The fact is many reputable artists continue to do general work to offset their real art habit. Unless artists are independently wealthy, they will have day jobs. That is the case in South Africa and perhaps in many other countries around the world.

People call themselves artists, but why do they do it? More to the point, why become a fulltime painter when you could make more money out of office work? Besides, the government in South Africa has more to deal with than just supporting artists. Artists are obliged to buy exhibition spaces and cover printing costs among other things in order to display their art – irrespective of whether they sell or not. It is in shifting miasmic times like these that a revolution should happen. Artist should begin to rewrite the rules of the game and change systems. Recently, came up a question whether artists are well supported in South Africa or not. The fact is, in South Africa job creation is a false idol. With such a high unemployment rate, art cannot be a priority. The artists’ future is about gigs and assets and art and an ever-shifting series of partnerships and projects. However, many of this pays the organizers more than the artists.

Gone are the days of self- motivation, pro activity, focus, passion and a burning desire to create something wonderful. Since art pays so little to the artists, mass production of less desirable (uninspired and dispassionate) and often worthless products are being created.  Artists need to shift the paradigms and create a revolution of positive new opportunities. They should organize projects and take control of how art is produced and displayed independently of existing structures and hierarchies. For example, this could be to start a gallery run by artists, starting a fanzine/ magazine or perhaps a blog to promote artists, organizing reading circles, start a studio with other artists, arrange an exhibition in public space and so on.

This is my feeling. For an artist to produce something, to get the art-world blood up, they first should feel appreciated. There needs to be paradigm shift in art galleries and more funds should go to artists rather than galleries in order to create a revolution of a new positive art world. Currently in South Africa, galleries and funders’ hid artists behind the rock – they pretend not to know who made the art piece hanged on their walls. (Currently in South Africa, galleries and funders are like the rock that keep artists from view making their art faceless commodities.)

  1. Sarah Stands says:

    This is such a valid point! I love the rock and cat metaphor as well.

    The artist has the ability to create real change and be the inspiration to imagine a new reality. We as sustainability practitioners are also faced with this wall of wanting to create change without the creative red-tape (such as finance and time) we are faced with daily…to the point where discouragement can get the better of us. Alas, we push ahead where we can as we cannot engage with life in any other way.
    With risk of self promotion, Sustain our Africa’s Festival of change and conference is the initial stages to try to transform this paradigm. This will be a platform for artists to use and showcase their brilliance to the world with a message about sustainability issues (most things artists have been talking about for centuries as they are on the forefront of human experience and emotion).

    Hopefully we can begin to gain momentum for the artists and the creative to imagine and create a better world. Most importantly, able to support our own world without having to waste invaluable energy in dull processes and under-stimulated desk jobs.

    ONWARD.. there is no turning back!

  2. ayanda says:

    I love the new look —- brilliant

  3. erin bosenberg says:

    You’re sooo spot on with this assessment…I think we need to talk about producing something on this topic. publishing pitching…documentarinnnggg

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