I was honoured by the invite to give a talk about my current interests, influences, and inspirations – by my friend and mentor, Keith Cole, to his Intro to Visual Culture class at Seneca College in North York – near my old stomping grounds, where I grew up.
If memory serves, I recall that I first wrote down these words almost four years ago. It was only more recently, though, that I found myself spelling them out in staples – so, I guess they have resonated somehow. It has been fun to see this work appear, this past February, in a special issue of KAPSULA magazine on the theme of “Making Love” and to see it go to a good home for a good cause, just a few days ago, as a print for Xpace’s 10th Anniversary Fundraiser.
This past Victoria Day long weekend, a group of artists [disclaimer: myself included] took to the streets to change the cityscape in straightforward, impactful ways. Depending on your generosity – oft or totally – neglected city tree planter boxes found themselves the subject of interventions all around town as a part of project entitled Outside the Planter Boxes. Organized by Sean Martindale in putting his FEAST grant to work, the scheme puts the simple back in the sublime. With no guidelines other than the starting point of the planter, a great range exists in artists’ media, mixing artificial and natural elements, as the planter boxes themselves do, not ironically.
I volunteered as a set of hands and my intervention at its most basic was cleaning garbage out of planters all along Bloor West from Lansdowne to Dufferin. Number one contribution from Torontonians – chewing gum. Followed in rapid and close succession by cigarette butts, coffee cups, chocolate bar wrappers, and in a strange and grizzly discovery in the planter outside the House of Lancaster some kind of jumbo animal bone [human or pig, maybe, remains TBD, but by someone else – I couldn’t bring myself to touch it further despite thick rubber gloves and had to leave it for the bouncers to identify].
When I came across the following planter, the abandoned crate alongside it naturally suggested the final design. The grass clippings were imported from a freshly mown lawn in North York.
BEFORE & AFTER
Not just nights
But under direct sun too
Old grey matter
Meets new paint splatter
Ready to start again – you?
[These are ideas I’ve been toying with for a few years – and some of my notes are dated relative to this interweb post. At this time, I still don’t buy that the underlying economy is experiencing the same recovery we’ve seen in world equity markets since bottoming out a year ago – we can all mark the date – check the chart of TSX and SP500 from late last February up until yesterday’s close. With a spate of stocks setting new 52 week highs recently – it still looks like the major indices are facing new resistance. With this thought, I generally end up humming The Guess Who’s She’s Come Undone.]
June 2009: With reference to my own ‘restructuring’ out of stock trading earlier this year – I return often to the notion that I have become an exhibit of my own thesis of the markets and of the world economy as a whole. Not only are we experiencing a global cyclical downturn but a coincident and magnifying one that is structural in nature. My own case aside herein, there remain many sources of evidence to this effect, which will in no doubt protract all aspects of the “cirque du credit” blanketing all with its big top these days.
This critical juncture demands reflection and grinding through provides opportunity to do just that, offering a chance to examine the big picture in contrast to the normal, myopic focus on the day to day gyrations of one index or another. When the psychological pendulum of the market swings back from fear to hope, what will this hope be focused upon? More importantly, for the sake of a fragile environment, what should this hope be focused upon?
More than 200 years ago, psychology guided actors party to the first contracted exchange of stock certificates under a buttonwood tree in New York. Now, as then, this inextricable influence is of utmost importance. What does the market think and what do we want it to think? What is the structural mindshift required to catalyze an accompanying resource shift in favour of our collective future?