This kind of started while I was at The Mill in Birkirkara earlier today, enjoying the last hour of Maxine C Attard‘s excellent In Between Obliterations. Talk turned to feelings of helplessness in actually making some kind of change within the situations we find unacceptable around us. For me this means things like the current full-speed-ahead economic growth at the expense of reasonable consideration to actual longterm survival, let alone wellbeing. It means people being completely resigned to the idea that money opens up all avenues. It means the prevailing culture of ‘keep your head down, act humble and don’t you dare criticise in public’.
After a fair few rounds of getting rants off our chests we kind of agreed that the simple acts of doing your own thing (nurturing what you find it meaningful to create) and being vocal about your thoughts, ways of doing things, ideas, at the very least have the effects of highlighting a divergence from the status quo.
Which really reminds me of Toko-Pa Turner’s Black Sheep Gospel, an extract from her most excellent book Belonging and an ongoing source of encouragement for me.
1. Give up your vows of silence which only serve to protect the old and the stale.
2. Unwind your vigilance, soften your belly, open your jaw and speak the truth you long to hear.
3. Be the champion of your right to be here.
4. Know that it is you who must first accept your rejected qualities, adopting them with the totality of your love and commitment. Aspire to let them never feel outside of love again.
5. Venerate your too-muchness with an ever-renewing vow to become increasingly weird and eccentric.
6. Send out your signals of originality with frequency and constancy, honouring whatever small trickle of response you may get until it becomes a momentum.
7. Notice your helpers and not your unbelievers.
8. Remember that your offering needs no explanation. It is its own explanation.
9. Go it alone until you are alone with others. Support each other without hesitation.
10. Become a crack in the network that undermines the great towers of Establishment.
11. Make your life a wayfinding, proof that we can live outside the usual grooves.
12. Brag about your escape.
13. Send your missives into the network to be reproduced. Let your symbols be adopted and adapted and transmitted broadly into the new culture we’re building together.
About Maxine Attard’s exhibition In Between Obliterations that closed today:
(from the exhibition event page on Facebook)
‘In Between Obliterations’ is an exhibition of six works each of which contains debris collected from a different building site where in the majority of cases, an old building was demolished and a new one raised in its place. Each work is titled after the site from where the debris has been collected. The debris is then organised in a grid and enclosed within a glass and wood frame.
– They were there for a long time, even before I was here, but now they are almost all gone. The buildings. The new ones have replaced the old. They were all within walking distance from my house and they were there for decades.
– Now, what is left are dust, fragments and my memory of them, which will get distorted and fade away with time… I am already starting to forget the details.
– This is not about nostalgia.
– The old buildings were touched by people who passed through them and by them. I have occasionally encountered these people in the past, but the buildings have witnessed a lot more than I have. They have seen, heard and smelt the entire lives of the people who lived in them. And I have not experienced these entire lives. I only have witnessed bits and pieces. And I want to know more. These people have brought me into being and I grew because of them. These lives have formed my identity and collectively, that of a community, a society. The buildings were all that was left of these lives.
– My seeing and touching these buildings were my only connection to the ones that have seen and touched them before me.
– The debris that is there now and which is getting crushed by the new, may contain some ‘touched’ particles and fragments although some bits and pieces seem to have been brought in by the new building already. The new building disregards the old. The purpose of the new seems different because it looks agitated and frantic.