I took part in York this weekend just gone. P A N D E M I C, inspired by the Situationist movement (notably the philosopher Guy Debord, who wrote Society of the Spectacle), invites anybody to come along, to perform, discuss, or whatever they feel they want to do. But it is also an environment of questioning, where preconceived views are challenged – but by everybody, in a none pedagogical environment. It is “a balance between the intellectual and the intuitive: organic evolutionary change via experimentation, deviation and panic is [the aim of P A N D E M I C]”. I was part of the first P A N D E M I C event in Sheffield 2011, and it had a very positive affect on my own, not just artistic, but philosophical/political ideas.
adjective – (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.
noun – an outbreak of a pandemic disease.
Origin: -mid 17th century: from Greek pandēmos (from pan ‘all’ + dēmos ‘people’) + -ic
P A N D E M I C, like the great plagues that inspired it, will spread like a disease that does not discriminate. It can and will affect anyone, no matter what superficially constructed group they may identify with, no matter what class, gender, race, sexuality and income level. It is an ever changing vehicle for discussion, ideas and dissent.
During a series of happenings in Sheffield, UK during November 2011, P A N D E M I C incorporated a continuous programme of visual art – along with events every evening for 2 weeks consisting of a combination of experimental music, film, lectures, talks, workshops, readings and performance. We have used several spaces already including gallery spaces, lecture rooms, pubs, car parks and other less conventional spaces.
—some of these inspired by the Situationist International, some just by life itself. We wish to promote the ideas of reclaiming space, and reappropriating images with a D.I.Y ethos in response to the advanced capitalist dystopia we now find ourselves in. We now experience life through an abstraction – in the form of advertising, prescribed gender and social roles and media manipulation which leads to the us living in a substitute for reality instead of living reality itself. Via television documentaries we have armchair tourism, via royal spectacles we have emotional tourism (like the public reaction to the death of Princess Diana), via soap operas we have drama and intrigue, via reality T.V we are given “reality”. We advocate that we: create not consume; question not accept and act not just dream.
The purpose of P A N D E M I C is to inspire as many people as possible, to involve people who are not just the usual already “converted” art types. We want the project to spread to other towns and cities as a continued and evolving social and creative platform. So far we have infected York and London too. P A N D E M I C has evolved in direct opposition to the prescribed and elitist, market driven nature of the artworld, and the government funded stuff which is often only commissioned because it ticks the right agenda boxes. P A N D E M I C exists with no money spent or earned at all.
We are tired of going to the “right” place, at the “right” time and behaving in the “right” way in white-washed, sterile spaces to look at “art” that has been chosen as “significant” by the wealthy and the egotistical. Art is life and it should reflect life’s beauty and it’s misery in all its complexity. Only our everyday lives have meaning, and through them we relate to others, not only this but if art is life, then art should relate to all facets of life and thus should be experienced in all of the places and spaces we inhabit.
P A N D E M I C is in direct opposition to the artworld and art market, for this world is boring and elitist, it consists of a series of cliquey institutionalised in-jokes, and is fundamentally controlled by rich buyers and investors. As well as this we see how the media constantly dumbs down conceptual or experimental art – or mocks it with dismissive comments like “my 5 year old could do that.” And so art is kept this way to a) make said elite feel culturally superior and b) disenfranchise us from sentient culture. The ability to engage with art entails our ability to deconstruct images, this skill can then be used to deconstruct the images in the media that attempt to control us. Most importantly we must learn deconstruct our lives and the problems we face as a species.
We already have many visual artists, writers, activists, lecturers, dancers/performers and musicians involved – and there is always room for more. We remain open to anybody. From you we are looking for support, promotional help, for you and your friends to get involved too – and any other groups that you know of being made aware. Particularly we are looking for spaces to utilise as well as people to take part in whatever form. Our ethos is that anyone can be creative and anyone can relate to and enjoy art if art reflects their own lives – as opposed to art merely reflecting art itself, or the elitist institution and the social status attached to it.