Our final Breakfast Club for this series was themed The Politicians Have Lost Us: Art, Apathy and Hope. We always look to this platform as a way of understanding how contemporary art relates to the real world. As such it was encouraging to spend a morning with people so positive and hopeful about the role that art can play in challenging, leading and exposing the things we feel strange about; who see art as a space for cataclysmic change. Listen into the Podcast for more (and this edition comes with a strong language warning):
Live Scribe Summary: Nathan Harrison
The nation watched on in awe last week as factional powerbrokers and faceless men ousted Finding solace: does the imagination lie somewhere beyond logic and reason? as the topic for this week’s Next Wave Breakfast Club, replacing it with The Politicians Have Lost Us: Art, Apathy and Hope. If politics has become hyper-theatrical, ridiculous, and trivial, what is our response to that? Can there be merit in apathy? If not, where can we find hope? These were some of the questions floating around the room.
Kickstart artist Georgie Mattingley brought up Paul Yore’s recently censored exhibition as a work that aggressively puts forward an apathetic refusal to engage. If despondency is commonplace then perhaps art can show it as something shared.
Also Kickstart artist Brienna Macnish put forward that if politics were grand spectacles full of artifice and entertainment, then she wanted to create art that allowed empathy, and real connections between people. My table responded quickly to these ideas, discussing organisations that use art to give disempowered people voices in their community.
Ben Eltham discussed hope as a cultural commons that is shared by communities as a whole, and one that drives social and political change.
It’s easy to get bogged down in negativity when discussing politics, and the temptation to not talk about it whatsoever is all too strong. It’s one of those conversations where many people know what they think, and simply aren’t interested in changing that. But the alternative is not talking about it, and I think that’s way more damaging in the long run. This morning was an excellent opportunity to see people talking to strangers and sharing ideas about things that matter.
Live Scribe Summary: Merrilee McCoy
It could have been easy for today’s discussion to become a complaints-fest about Australian politics. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the speakers each offered provocations that in fact lead us to some quite different places.
Amongst the table discussions a few of the questions pondered included:
• What can we learn from the ‘theatre of politics’? We’re competing for attention in an already dramatic media environment.
• How is technology affecting political discourse? Are we thinking differently now?
• Is all art political? Where else do we have the space to rigorously discuss big ideas?
Human connection was another strong, and for me unexpected, theme. Ben spoke of hope, which lead to discussions about how satisfying true, face-to-face conversation is. Whilst we acknowledged the definite positives to our very social online lives (such as greater exposure to different voices) I think people generally agreed that get-togethers like the Breakfast Clubs are important kickstarters to valuable human connection and discussion.
Considering our responsibility to each other as artists, and as humans, helps us to have hope and to keep moving beyond apathy.
That’s the last for our Winter Breakfast Club series! These Podcasts were directed by Nicole Smith, and produced by Daniel Santangeli. Big thanks to Small Batch coffee and Yoghurt Culture for fueling our minds and tummies over the last four weeks.
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