Everything about this short speaks to me about participation. From the outsourced nature of its production to its clear message. Made by the same team who created “Connected”, its a humanist look at our present situation. We have been declaring our “independence” for so long, perhaps it is time to begin declaring our “interdependence” and truly look at how closely we are linked and in need of one another. Click here to declare your interdependence on their map.
Ubuntu is a concept stemming from Africa that encompasses a mentality of togetherness, our allegiance and relations to one another. In terms of the participatory space, I find it a fundamental concept. I learned of the conecpt through a program I took called “mindfulness without borders.” MWB is a council building educational program that works with schools and communities building participatory models for open dialogue. Here you can find a list of podcasts relating to the various steps of council building. It was a highly educational experience for me, learning how to be a mediator, and taught a great deal about how to ignite someone’s self knowledge rather than feed information.
A translation of Ubuntu is “I am what I am because of who we all are.” Archbishop Desmond tutuo offered a definition in a 1999 book:
A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.
A further explanation by Tutu:
One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about hte fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.
The first floor of 765 Broad Street, Newark NJ used to be an office. Where cubicles once divided an open floor, the art work of thousands of Newark’s youth now flourishes. An in-kind donation from the owner of Cogswell Realty, in the five years we have been there the Creation Nation Parade came and has grown. In preparation for the upcoming Parade we have opened our doors twice a week as a free makers space, where any individual is welcome to come and paint, build or fabricate from our various array of supplies and scraps. We make collective banners, individual pro-create signs (rather than protest) while some artists simply use the space as a studio and work on an ongoing project to display in the parade. The sessions are loosely guided by artist supporters, and we break each session for a fifteen minute open discussion addressing the concept of a “Creation Nation”. These discussions have been amazingly enlightening, as a dialogue grows between many different members of society. These photos are of some of the sessions and think boards the group has come up with. Anyone is welcome to join us, a schedule can be found by clicking here.
The TAZ is real, and in this manifesto Hakim Bey conjures it. My copy was just returned to me after a mysterious disappearance when a friend visited from Iceland this weekend. This book is a gust of clairvoyance after a mortal fall to earth.
The Temporary Autonomous Zone is a makers space, a pirate utopia of creation, free of hierarchy for the pure giving of gifts. Divided into communiques, communique #6 I, entitled Salon Apocolypse: Secret Theater, is a beautiful compliment to Boal and Schuman’s work. The book can be found in its entirety online here , but I suggest buying a copy. Carrying a copy of the TAZ is wearing an amulet.
I. Salon Apocalypse: “Secret Theater”
AS LONG AS NO Stalin breathes down our necks, why not make some art in the service of…an insurrection? Never mind if it’s “impossible.” What else can we hope to attain but the “impossible”? Should we wait for someone else to reveal our true desires?
If art has died, or the audience has withered away, then we find ourselves free of two dead weights. Potentially, everyone is now some kind of artist–& potentially every audience has regained its innocence, its ability to become the art that it experiences.
Provided we can escape from the museums we carry around inside us, provided we can stop selling ourselves tickets to the galleries in our own skulls, we can begin to contemplate an art which re-creates the goal of the sorcerer: changing the structure of reality by the manipulation of living symbols (in this case, the images we’ve been “given” by the organizers of this salon–murder, war, famine, & greed).
We might now contemplate aesthetic actions which possess some of the resonance of terrorism (or “cruelty,” as Artaud put it) aimed at the destruction of abstractions rather than people, at liberation rather than power, pleasure rather than profit, joy rather than fear. “Poetic Terrorism.” Our chosen images have the potency of darkness–but all images are masks, & behind these masks lie energies we can turn toward light & pleasure.
For example, the man who invented aikido was a samurai who became a pacifist & refused to fight for Japanese imperialism. He became a hermit, lived on a mountain sitting under a tree..
One day a former fellow-officer came to visit him & accused him of betrayal, cowardice, etc. The hermit said nothing, but kept on sitting–& the officer fell into a rage, drew his sword, & struck. Spontaneously the unarmed master disarmed the officer & returned his sword. Again & again the officer tried to kill, using every subtle kata in his repertoire–but out of his empty mind the hermit each time invented a new way to disarm him.
The officer of course became his first disciple. Later, they learned how to dodge bullets. We might contemplate some form of metadrama meant to capture a taste of this performance, which gave rise to a wholly new art, a totally non-violent way of fighting–war without murder, “the sword of life” rather than death.
A conspiracy of artists, anonymous as any mad bombers, but aimed toward an act of gratuitous generosity rather than violence–at the millennium rather than the apocalypse–or rather, aimed at a present moment of aesthetic shock in the service of realization & liberation.
Art tells gorgeous lies that come true.
Is it possible to create a SECRET THEATER in which both artist & audience have completely disappeared–only to re-appear on another plane, where life & art have become the same thing, the pure giving of gifts?
(Note: The “Salon Apocalypse” was organized by Sharon Gannon in July, 1986.)
I was born in a storm. Nothing went according to plan. It was supposed to be a home hippy pleasant birth to a bubbly baby boy to be named Josh. None of that. At the end of 36 hours of labor and 6 feet of snow, I arrived, a girl, nameless and fighting. After a week in the hospital, on the ride home, my mother realized, as they turned onto Llewellyn Avenue where they lived, this is Athena! And so that’s my name: Athena Llewellyn. Sort of a global local mythological girl next door.
I grew with a Siddha Yoga Ashram under the spiritual guidance of Gurumayi, traveled the tofu trade show circuit as a child with my family’s entrepreneurial vision, Legume, the first company to go public with tofu in the country, then when Legume sold we spent our summers caravaning groups of young adults to the South of France for a month of communal living, festival hopping and art making. Last year I was living in Iceland immersing myself in the education of healing instruments. This summer I had artistic residencies in the Netherlands and Belgium with my nomadic bath house the Spa Ship, where I wash people’s hands in a crystal singing bowl.
Now I spend the majority of my time rallying the Creation Nation. Manifesting as “public art by the public”, the Creation Nation is a program of my family’s art and education foundation, the Barat Youth Initiative. We just completed the largest collaborative art piece in the history of Newark, including over 500 students in a 4 story Peace Mural to honor the Dalai Lama’s visit with the Newark Peace Summit in May. On October 23, we will celebrate the 4th annual art parade, officially dubbed the Creation Nation Art and Peace Parade. Here, we will gather thousands of students to march alongside artwork we have made with them over the years accompanied by the drums and horns of 4 full sized marching bands, we will march across the city reclaiming the public space as a shared space for the community and creative voice.
The creator lives in all. It’s just a question of waking up. That’s what I love about DIY, its an awakening of creative voice and personal agency. A rose by any other name would still be a rose. It is time to access our heart intelligence and create the world within which we want to live.
click here for the Creation Nation Website