Friday, September 26, 2008


So much whirls through my head that I am not sure where to start today. However, this notion of collasping difference to unveil fundamental similarities opening up the potential for compassion is taking up much of my thinking time. By 'collapsing' I am not necessarily meaning a literal collapse of distance, but a rethinking of distance as separation. The 'space between' is not an empty space because in a sense everything is 'one'. The macro and micro are connected by being variations of each other so any distance between is not a separation but merely a process of variation. The local and global are connected because they are integral parts of the other. They exist simultaneously thus closing any perceived separation of distance.

The underbelly of post modernism reveals an insidious attempt to create an empty distance through a lack of compassion which is perpetuated by PM's devotion to simulacra and narcisistic tendencies. Post modernism has been able to manipulate its empty distance to separate the extremes and thus heightening the potential for oppositional and paradoxical tendancies.

Compassion is a quality which is shared, respectful and with all parties in the compassionate space feeling equal. Whereas sympathy is given [and can be taken away] and received and can be manipulated for self satisfaction and perpetuating power and powerlessness. I am not saying sympathy is not helpful. It is, especially in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. But how do we escape from it being used to emotionally colonise the underprivaleged? Sympathy can also be simulated whereas compassion, to me at least, is far more difficult to simulate because it is not constructed on giver and receiver, but a much more complex indentification of humanity within. I suspect the language of sympathy and compassion are different...would be an interesting study.

Compassion is a more confident quality, but it does take some bravery to share. However, this is where collapsing difference to reveal fundamental human similarities can help create the safe place for sharing to occur.

Art's agency is its potential to assist in creating safe places for people to share. Agendaless but not directionless conversation I believe is the key. Art [albeit not all art!] has the ability to stimulate conversations which take people places where humanity's fundamental coding, which is shared by all, recognises itself.

So, I am optimistic about the future. Like any point of change there is more often than not a period of dilemma and chaos, but seeing it as sign of change rather than the death of the 'safe' known is a more purposeful approach. The implosion of the financial and banking world, particularly in the US, is a sign that simulacra [ie: poor loans made with no gurantees, derivatives made up of nothings etc] and narcisism [ie: need I explain!] are in their death throws. Post modernism's play with simulation and shifting/slippery guidelines is no longer seductive. Deregulation was part of the 'game' and now there is an opportunity to create new ways of regulation which care for the collective and the individual both existing in a global world and living locally at the same time. It will not be an easy task to create new foundations, but hopefully they will be forged on more than nothing.

The image above was taken at the inaugural "LAUNCH: Clayton Utz Travelling Scholarship Award" exhibition. I was one of the 25 shortlisted artists.

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