return to home page

[ BACK to Centre Cannot Hold menu ]

the "BUY THIS" installation:



The Centre Cannot Hold, Part 1 - "BUY THIS"
Aesthetics of the installation
The Centre Cannot Hold is an artistic project with an integral social development process and activism.  It intends to develop new approaches to critical realism for the emerging conditions of the 21st century, involving narrative and dialogical experimentation, interactivity, and participatory immediacy.  Its thematic focus is on the intersection between three related areas: climate/environment, race-migration/global inequality, and justice/human rights. 

The "BUY THIS" installation was the central focus of the work.  Additional activity that took place included connections and developmental links with local community-based agencies, artists, activists and individuals, plus scheduled events within the installation space involving live performance and discussion.  These activities are integral to the project, not only in terms of social and political development but also in terms of developing a participatory aesthetic which is influenced by our involvement as artists with the dialogues of local activity. The artwork does not stand independent of such dialogue, and therefore cannot become an independent art-work in the mainstream sense in which art is dislocated from this context for the purpose of consumption in galleries.  This is true even if audiences are habitually unable to locate this dimension when viewing the installation.  Nevertheless, the following text focuses purely on the installation itself, and should be read after watching our YouTube film and reading The Description in which there is an implicit interpretation of the installation.
According to Gramsci, “The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without becoming disillusioned.”  The media-saturated culture which we in the western world inhabit is a facet of a wider approach to (over-) consumption which has become the norm, and which is fundamental to ideas of maximising economic growth with the resultant process of murdering the planet’s resources and bringing about climate devastation.  More than this, we believe the arts, media and cultural sectors to be largely complicit in nurturing false illusions and political amnesia around experiences, histories and realities which are excluded from or distorted by the dominant narratives.  In doing so, this ‘soft’ consumption of particular cultural and aesthetic meanings actually forms our ways of thinking about our world in immeasurably powerful ways.  It seals our disconnections, perhaps most effectively when there is some flirtation with the ‘other’ realities.  We can rub our hands in glee with some critical banter during a party, but hey – this just adds some ‘edge’, it doesn’t need to spoil the party, does it?  If we claim to be truly critical artists, we must not forget this. 
Much is written about our evolving perspectives on the socio-political issues around race and the environment already and how climate change is an extension of a neo-colonial process.  The strength of our interest in the ‘content’ which drives our work may obscure the complex and profound thinking around the aesthetics of the “Buy This” installation-based work.
As artists we wanted to engage perceptions, imagery and sounds in a way which encouraged critical thought and dialogue, to avoid ways which encourage the consciousness to dwell on the form, or which simplify and relegate critical narratives into aesthetic forms for artistic consumption and ‘armchair’ review, thereby breaking the dialectic between subjectivity and objectivity (as discussed by Paolo Freire).  We explored how certain cultural and aesthetic forms have enhanced the beauty of narratives and ideas by drawing people into the words themselves, such as with various uses of calligraphy and the philosophical and discursive traditions of China and the Middle east.  Other word-based dialectical and dialogical creativities include Forum Theatre and particular traditions of songwriting. 
The challenge is not to simply present powerful narratives or juxtapositions.  Above all, the challenge is firstly to see if people will use a cultural space to think, and to think for themselves rather than simply consume culture because they are told it is good or ethical or its what specialist producers agree is worth consuming.  Secondly it is to see if the artistry can not only be appreciated for its form and how its form enriches and gives a distinctive slant on how the content is read, but also how it can encourage, stimulate, enrich, inform and playfully focus that thinking. To engage such Freirian dialectic within our work we developed a series of artistic and aesthetic strategies: 

The overriding intention is to develop a critical art practice that contributes to and is a part of a shift in cultural norms of activity, towards a thirst for argument and questioning, thinking and playing with alternative possibilities, rejecting passive consumption and armchair critiques.  This is a pre-requisite for sustainable progressive change to take place, towards a world in which far more people at every level can be informed and challenge, can be engaged in debates that can make a difference, can provoke through both culture and collective action, and can actively participate in both individual and social transformation.


vmlog1lt.gif (5662 bytes)

digital media artists and productions responding to themes of race, migration and globalisation

contact: info[a]