I hope you all had a good festive season wherever you are based. 2020 was a year of massive uncertainty for most of us and no doubt it was a very different Christmas and New Year for many.
I just wanted to share a few updates about what I was up to over the last couple of weeks since my last post. As I mentioned my wife and I started www.altruismo.club as a way of doing timed print releases to raise money for grass roots organisations supporting people in need. Our intention was to dedicate our first four releases to supporting Hijas Del Campo who do incredible work looking after the needs of migrant and seasonal farmworkers here in California. An already vulnerable community, they found themselves under added stress with both the pandemic and the wildfires. Our first release was with Victor Reyes and it was a roaring success. We sold out the edition in a couple of hours and were able to donate $4300 in profits.
For our second release we worked with Los Angeles based artist Malie Huffman but found ourselves in an interesting predicament. I noticed fairly early that engagement wasn’t just slow but non-existent and sales were incredibly slow. The following morning we awoke to find that Facebook had completely prohibited our URL from both of it’s platforms. All posts had been removed without warning from Facebook and on Instagram they came with a warning that the link was malicious. Later on one of our mutual friends with Malie mentioned that her entire Instagram page had become invisible to friends after she had included our URL in her bio text. The following day we all finally received our violation warnings from Facebook and did our best to dispute them but the whole process is very opaque.
Assuming that this was just the byproduct of the algorithm - which I believe it is, it’s interesting to see the wide net cast by these platforms to combat hate speech, disinformation and general grifting can also impact those trying to do charitable grass roots work. Sadly, there are still untold examples of fascist grifters raising money and utilising these platforms (I won’t share links for obvious reasons).
A good friend of mine suggested calling on some friends with a well established platform for help. I did and the good news is we are regrouping this week and looking at a different approach for raising funds for this cause. I’ll keep you all posted in the following days!
In other news, my wife and I are currently in the process of getting organised to head back to Aotearoa for a while. Getting through the logistical minefield which is traveling internationally during a global pandemic has been interesting. Managed isolation back home started booking up incredibly quickly. There are somewhere between 600,000 to one million of us that live abroad - many of us with partners and families. With the woeful and arguably intentionally neglectful government responses in places like the US and UK plenty are relocating home. We were fortunate enough to secure our spot and find corresponding flights. We are currently waiting on my wifes visa confirmation and hoping that we applied with enough time to receive it ahead of our departure date. Visa struggles have been our reality for the last few years so while it’s nothing new you can understand our anxiety.
We are heading back in time to set up our big TMD show with The Dowse Museum in Lower Hutt. I think I’ve mentioned it a couple of times already - it’s been around two years in the planning. We have the opening at the museum and a related mural festival happening and will be officially releasing dates for those soon.
I’m excited to get home and to see everyone again, It’s been a long 6 months! I’m also excited at the prospect of working outdoors again too! Being in the US during this moment has been important for me for growth and reflection. I’ve read more in the last 6 months than maybe the last 6 years. I’ve thought much more about what society is and how it works, my own values, about the art I want to make and the purpose of art as a whole. I’ve also started visualising what type of future my wife and I need to work towards and what steps it will require. The pandemic really revealed what I was already feeling that my days of being a transient artist have come to an end. It’s time to situate in one place and really build some sturdier foundations. Over the new year I’ve been reading David Graeber’s books Debt: The First 5000 Years and it’s brilliant. I should’ve read this a long time ago! I’m taking my time with this one because it has framed so many things differently to how I’ve been taught to see them. I’ve had to step away and really process a lot within the pages of this book. It’s weird because a book like this really makes you interrogate even your own use of specific language and brings insight to so many unquestioned formalities. Over all it makes me appreciate the depth of my oldest friendships and how un-transactional they are. I never appreciated how much mutualism exists within TMD or had the language to explain it but this book has been so helpful.
Lastly I just wanted to share one last thing I’ve returned to and still enjoy on a second or third viewing. This series Timothy Snyder Speaks on YouTube is still as relevant as ever even two years later. This episode on Cyberfascism is fantastic and is a way more realistic framing of the current ‘the internet is bad’ conversation taking place.
Wishing everyone out there the best and will keep you all updated with new developments soon!