Monday, 8 June 2015

Not a tight community, but a community

wildflowers, blurry

A few days ago I was lucky enough to be on a panel with the wonderful artist Rosemary Lee, who has inspired me for many years. She said something that struck me. She said,

What I’m looking for is a community. Not a tight community, but a wider community.

There was something important about this for me. The idea of community so often gets presented as a tight-knit and overstated set of similarities, based on place or race or gender or age. It inevitably has outsiders and insiders. It sometimes has artists ‘coming in’ to ‘do projects’. These communities do exist, of course, and there is value in feeling like one is inside a tight-knit community sometimes. But in relation to arts practices, and in relation to my life and needs, I find that this notion of community as something solid and contained is always deeply problematic, and will primarily generate a feeling of outsiderness for me – something that will feel difficult to enter into.

A loose-knit community feels so much more like something I might aspire to both create and be within. It feels like something that has space to breathe, that might change, over time and space, that might welcome newness without drawing too much attention to it. And that one day might fall apart in a way that wasn’t alarming or threatening, just the course of things.

I’m interested in how we might allow those kind of spaces, and how we might hold those kinds of spaces. I’m interested in how to hold something just enough, not to constrain, and not to let go completely, but just to hold and commit for as long as it is there.