New work by Antonio Filipo, Leilani Kake, Sean Kerrigan, Mele Penitani, Genevieve Pini and Siliga David Setoga at Fresh Gallery Otara | November 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Submarines: Part 2

I will digress yet again, before I get to the core of the matter and discuss the idea of myself as a white man in Otara, and therefore in the minority within the micro sense, within a minority in the macro sense. I have grown up in Mangere and Otara, and I still am growing up, and watched as others who shared no differences except skin colour and some cultural differences make headway in the Art world simply because they had those differences. To me, from my vantage, our similarities, given we came from the same socio- economic background, went to the same schools and worked at the same jobs, far outweighed the supposed differences referenced from outside to address disparity of potentials.
And I can except that people come straight from a different cultural zone should be awarded the time and effort to acclimatise but as the generations become acclimatised the differences become a mere adjunct to socialisation. A person born in New Zealand whos parents have been in New Zealand for more than 20 years is by all intents a New Zealander and cultural lineage is of choice rather than circumstance.
But don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that culture isn't important, it may very well be the most important thing we have as humans, but for it to survive and flourish then, I think, we have to regard it as as self evident truth that needs no support except that which we give it simply by doing what we would do by choice. I can round that out somewhat by offering that it is the way that we percieve our culture and enact its life by our choices that keep a culture alive. Culture is not something defined after the fact but something created by the enactment of the fact.

I think there is an absolute danger in supporting something after the fact because it, the culture, then becomes liable to too much interference in the act of definition. By defining something we somehow strip it of mystery and the potential for growth and by definition we create a small death. This act of labelling the thing opens it up to opinion and, in no small way, its ability to be profited from in a wider context. This, in turn, makes the subject one of liabilities and so its security becomes more important than its role. All the little deaths start to add up and what was once a free growing exciting and mysterious thing that nourished those who came into contact with it now is an industry subject to market forces like any other commodity. This is the big death and though it may look like a culture it is merely the wrapping.

But what exactly is culture? I would surmise that culture is us, as humans, living and breathing and growing, within the context of our enviroment. It may be the gestalt between inviroment and enviroment. The dialectic between our inner selves as we live our lives as our outer selves and all of this in a specific time and place.

All of the above, though, is only a small fraction of what I think defines the idea of culture simply because the reasoning involved only follows the accepted christian - judaic worldview. This gives us physical and intellectual viewpoints, and rather limited ones at that, and we haven't even brought in the myriad of spiritual levels.

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