Art & Culture Asides

How Not To Make A Difference

Rosa Parks - someone who made a real difference.

I recently attended a course at “The School of Life“, in London, UK. This course was called “How To Make A Difference”. It cost £30 and featured wine, sandwiches, and cake along with a couple of hours of lecturing and group activity. It unfortunately taught me nothing new, and in fact made me feel ashamed to be there: what kind of privileged middle-class jerk was I, attending a class on how to make a difference, when I know full well what to do? When I know full well what those who are not in my elevated position have to do just to carve out a tiny bit of space for themselves?

It didn’t help that the examples of the “changemakers” in this “class” (oh yeah, I am using quotes very recklessly and lazily!) presented were 98% white males, negating long and powerful histories of activism around the world by, uh, everyone else.

I pointed out this terrible omission to the teacher, and so my duty to “The School of Life” is done.

Instead of writing angry screeds to Alain de Botton (heavily involved in the establishment of said “school”), or overly angry screeds here (I could go into much further detail), I decided I’ll write something cursory here about my experience, as a kind of word to the wise to my friends and associates, and hold my own event here in Amsterdam, on How To Make A Real Difference. (Hat tip to Alex for putting this idea in my head).

Stay tuned for details on this event.

10/06/2010 update: Alain de Botton himself has been in touch to discuss my concerns in depth. Kudos to Alain and the School for being very attentive to my feedback.

Art & Culture

Schematic: Eric Raymond

It’s going to be a genuine pleasure (and build yet another interesting connection between my old home and my new home) to be at Canada House in London, UK this Thursday taking part in the opening of a solo exhibition of work by Eric Raymond, a Montreal-based new media artist. I co-curated this exhibition, that is the first part of Schematic: New Media Art from Canada, a group exhibition opening in London later this year. Here are the details on the show:

Schematic: Eric Raymond
Canada House
Trafalgar Square, Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5BJ
April 25 – June 6, 2008

A solo show presenting the work of the Montreal-based media artist, featuring his most striking robotic and electronic installations. Curated by Heather Corcoran, Michelle Kasprzak and Gillian McIver. Co-presented by Kinetica Museum. Eric Raymond has been active in the field of electronic arts for over a decade, having exhibited widely in Canada and internationally, including the Absolut LA International Biennial Art Invitational (US) and Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria). Schematic: Eric Raymond is part of Québec 400 celebrations in London, and is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Stay tuned for photos of the exhibition and further details on the second part of this exhibition series.

If in London…

If you will be in London tomorrow (July 1) consider stopping by Interdependence Day.

ID aims to refresh jaded debates about sustainable development, globalization and environmental change through an integrated body of activities comprising debates, films, art, and more.” View the flyer here.

I’ll be in London to take part in a dialogue focused on cultures of listening led by Proboscis, and then will be spending the rest of the day at Interdependence Day. If you think you might drop by ID, contact me.