I was in a park in London earlier today and spotted several ring-necked parakeets, part of a larger 'invasion' of our shores from Africa, South America and South-East Asia.
It is estimated that there are 30,000 ring-necked parakeets now in the U.K. - see pictures here. It is all very serious, so serious that the BBC reports that The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is considering a cull and
The Government is currently developing a framework for dealing with non-native species - such as the parakeets, Chinese mitten crabs and grey squirrels - and assessing the impact of native species to these shores.
I started to pay attention to the issue of parakeets after I read Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan's guide to Non-Native Species of the Britisher Isles - Volume 1.
In their book, the artists identify new alien species, outline efforts given to their control and create an hilarious, understated, pseudo-scientific satire on what can only be called 'migrant neuroses'.
It's an illness that's catching on in the U.K. just now.
The media carry and then recycle news stories
about white people becoming a minority in the
cities of Leicester and Birmingham: after research carried out at the University of Manchester.
Then there's me earlier this year preparing a major TV
investigation in to official statistics on immigration. The film didn't enter production but the story did break, causing the Government lots of angst.
How to deal with rising numbers not of migrants but of increasingly hysterical journalists who cover immigration?
Maybe Cartwright and Jordan have an idea for parakeets that could be adapted:
Captured birds could be sent to the Phillipines to compensate a decline in their native parakeet population, caused mainly by the birds being used for military target practice.
Johnson's latex and polyester sculptures were a high point in an event curated by Bob and Roberta Smith and the culmination of a design project on food systems in the town.
Here's artist Bob and Roberta taking it easy during the event - and yes he's one person...
...and here's a dish served up at the event that was created from fresh produce cultivated by a thousand new 'urban farmers' in containers across the town.
Over 6000 people attended the Super Market event; and the food project - Dott07 Urban Farming - was a great success.
On one level, it fostered new enthusiasm for growing produce in the town. The town's new 'urban farmers' plan to run the process again in 2008. Local government is planning to release vacant lots across the town for new urban food production. And plans are moving forward to create a new restaurant in the town that will be organized as a co-operative social enterprise and supplied by the town's new farmers in the future.
But the initiative wasn't just a success because it offered people an opportunity to grow stuff. It worked because it created a new opportunity for people to communicate - and it now seems no accident that the culminating event was framed by an artist.
He sees in their art a reintroduction of the idea of plurality ...inventing ways of being together, forms of interaction that go beyond the inevitability of families, ghettos of technological user-friendliness, and collective institutions on offer.
In Bourriard's mind, this is an urge towards creating new models of sociability. In our post-industrial societies, the most pressing thing is no longer the emancipation of individuals, but the freeing-up of inter-human communications, the dimensional emancipation of existence.
More often than not, urban renewal and public involvement projects keep their creative and intellectual thrust hush-hush.
The sociability of public art also often plays second fiddle to imaging and market.
And be reminded that these projects are not just confirmation of how great it is to be alive, kicking and sociable. They are also microscopic opportunities to transform society step-by-step, spud-by-spud.
I've spent so much time in the run-in to the holidays attending carol services and listening to super-serious religious music, there can only be one message for the holidays: keep your head in the clouds.
And if you can't afford the plane ticket, buy a red wig, preferably an afro.
The Sunday Times reports that arts bodies in the U.K. await a funding bloodbath.
The Arts Council - a government body dedicated to the promotion of the arts in the U.K. - is to
scrap funding for nearly one in five of the
theatres, orchestras and arts organisations that it supports...Nearly 200 arts bodies are being told that their Arts Council funding will end
from next April. For most it will mean closure or, at best, a struggle to
To state the bloody obvious, privatization has hit the arts big time.
As Bill Clinton's first secretary of labour Robert Reich puts it in his new book,
the institutions that used to aggregate citizen values have declined.
We have been spending the last decade or more trying to get the state off our backs and out of our lives so an axe has been taken to the common good.
What's more, as an article in a recent edition of Mute makes clear, as the market for contemporary art becomes a sector for increasing private investment
arts funding is increasingly drained in anticipation that it will be supported by such private interests.
Simultaneously, government policy seeks to attract international capital and its institutions and staff by promoting the global city through large scale signature events with a global span such as the Olympics that cannot be financially leveraged by private capital alone.
So what to do?
One route is to follow the advice of a recent review of Reich's book:
We should be paying more attention to the things that the state can do.
But this may just rationalise cuts.
Another is to start to try to understand where expression ends and consumption begins.
the critical-political claims of contemporary art, such as they are, are given the lie by their service to securitising the massive liquidity that now dominates political economy - and which shapes politics.
In other words, do something that I'd find impossible and stop adulating the likes of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin for in their name the privatization of culture just deepens.
What's the best way to recover memories of when you were young?
One way is not to bother - until something ugly turns up.
Another is to pick up filaments of your story as you age - but this'll probably never quite allow you to put everything together.
Another - and maybe a good one for DIY enthusiasts - is to take a leaf from the book of artist Keith Edmier.
Edmier's latest art project is called Bremen Towne and involves piecing together — from photos, plans and memory - the
interior of his childhood home in Illinois.
The artist has focussed on the communal spaces — the living room, dining room, kitchen, family
room and foyer — blocking imaginary access to the bathrooms and
bedrooms behind closed doors. I had some angst but the tone quickly shifted. It’s more
about celebrating my parents, sticking to the rooms where they would
have interacted with me.
Follow in Edmier's foosteps and you may be wasting a monumental amount of time, considering that memories are seldom architectural.
But you've got to admit that as far as narcissism goes, the physical reconstruction of his past and your own past would take some beating.
It may not reveal where the bodies are buried but it would certainly give you a steer as to whether the drapes of the marching soldiers or the poster of Olivia Newton-John had anything to do with it.