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Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Friday 18 May 2012

All together in the all-together

Last Saturday afternoon I was at the Tate for an exhibition on Kusama, an artist I was lucky enough to enjoy in Japan through her remarkable polka dot pumpkins on the beautiful island of Naoshima.

The Kusama iconography – dots, net holes, eyes, etc - gripped my mind with the power of art as a positive source of disruption to our ‘normal’ way of thinking, way of seeing, way of being.  Kusama’s playful deconstructions show not only how art can de-familiarise perceptions, but how art can give us the permission to accept new ways of living the world.  

Wondering round the gallery rooms, watching the audience interacting with the art, all reminded me of an idea I had to curate an exhibition challenging the disadvantaged images in the language of the media and charities.   Being a fan of puns, the concept was called Art Vantage Thinking – taking a different perspective to constructions of advantaged and ‘disadvantaged’ young people in society.  If the Kuasama rooms allow people to challenge the way they view and experience reality, why don’t we find artists and art that can do the same as part of our campaign to end disadvantaged thinking? Just imagine what the Centrepoint ad might convey silkscreened to distortion.  What young people could do with the power to cut up, graffiti and reimagine the way they are presented by others. What any artist might produce to create that show-stopping moment when people are able to stop and think again about what charity should actually mean as a positive investment in solutions.

I’ve often bored people over the last 15 years or so with my interest in the significance of prehistoric cave art – arguably the first galleries in history, with a special purpose to mark transition, stimulate memory and create community as a means of survival in the tough environment marked by the ice age.  All achieved through the power of art to challenge perception and thinking. Maybe our own ice age is one conducted in the mind – the eternal icing over of our capacity to understand humanity without resorting to the stereotypical and superficial.  We need a modern gallery experience to stimulate the mental behaviour of a more intelligent community.  Advantaged thinking art-vantage thinking that gives us the space and permission to overcome the ‘disadvantaged thinking’ ways we shape our reality.  All together in the all-together, as Kusama might have put it.

On the way out from the Tate, I listened to a snippet from a Damien Hurst documentary, explaining the power and significance of art as a ‘positive’ means to engage with topics, such as death, that we sometimes find difficult to face up to.  Whatever I think about Hurst’s art, his perspective is right: art is a positive life force.  It’s important, I believe, that we recognise art’s advantage, and begin to harness the power of art in our communications just as much as we endlessly bang on about social media. 

Who is up for the Art-vantage thinking challenge? To create and curate a space that stimulates positive, solution-based thinking about where and how we position the image of young people and charity in our world?  To turn the focus of art as a positive life force on smashing through the negative barriers that limit our world?  As always, I’m open for talent.  Let me know if you are...

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