Questions arose regarding the future of the arts and its place in society, Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the New Gallery as roughly 25 attended the discussion and critique.
The two-hour discussion, called There is No Future, Yet: A Conversation between Hye-Seung Jung and Eric Moschopedis, was the third and final series of talks hosted by award winning interdisciplinary artist Eric Moschopedis and visual artist Hye-Seung Jung.
“I’m a pervert for these kind of things,” Moschopedis said during the beginning of the discussion as he says that such talks and critiques rarely ever happen in Calgary.
“Artists have to be responsible, because artists are the producers of the scene,” said Jung.
In that regard, she said that having such forums are important, although it isn’t easy, but having a forum creates discussion.
“Thinking in your closet doesn’t really [create the transition] of being a complainer to [an enactor].”
Among the back and forth between the two, one question asked was their respective ideas of a utopia or an ideal society.
“I would hope that the arts act more critically,” he said.
Moschopedis finds artists are often too willing to participate without any sort of questioning of why or how they’re doing their work. For him, he finds that at this time he isn’t sure whether the arts are making a better world.
“Within the creative economy, the arts are—instead of strengthening the social fabric, they are actually deteriorating it,” he said.
“Instead of artists using art to critically reflect the world, they’re borrowing the mechanisms of the world, or the dominant ideology—capitalism—for their own function. They take the processes, that, for me, I think we should be critical of and instead they use it for their own advantage.
“This causes real problems that I’m not sure how we’ll resolve those in the future.”
Such a sentiment isn’t shared by Moschopedis alone. Belgian festival director Frie Leysen, during her closing keynote address at the 2015 Australian Theatre Forum, said artists “created a culture of ‘pleasing’ that is now hijacking us … Art should not please.
“On the contrary. Art has to show where it hurts in our societies, in our world. We urgently need the courage back to pick up this role of disturbers again.” “How do we deal with [these issues] as artists?” Moschopedis asked.
“I don’t think that 99 per cent of artists do deal with it.”
He said artists have to recognize that with the contemporary art world being conservative, it’s also “white and largely male and privileged” because most who do practice it come from an educated background.
Another issue pointed out by Moschopedis is the gentrification of less affluent areas of the city as well as the ensuing cultural, social, and spiritual displacement that follows.
“I was talking to someone recently and he said ‘well it’s kind of a natural order that artists move into an area that’s lower-ranked, that tends to be populated by largely people of colour and immigrants.
“And that’s just the way it is—and eventually they make the area cool and then the middle-class and rich white people move in.’
“I can look at this room and say none of us have to move into a poor neighbourhood,” he said. “None of us have to.”
He said many artists have the money and the means to not do so, however, many choose to because “it’s cool or that they don’t want to live in [more expensive housing].”
And, while creating art is the main focus for many, Moschopedis said people still have the time to “get a day job if they have to” rather than moving into a neighbourhood where “you’re going to [negatively impact]” those that live there, which results in many being displaced.
Jung said an example lies in Vancouver, where the socioeconomic status among people in Hastings is changing due to the migration of the arts, particularly with the relocation of Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts in 2010; however, she found that there was still a balance between the socioeconomic classes living there.
And yet for Calgarians, finding such a balance is still a pertinent issue, especially for places such as Forest Lawn, Dover, Lynwood and so on. Moschopedis asked “how do we bring amenities to these communities without displacing the people there?”
“A city councillor talked to the Dover Kids Club about how they actually need wealthy people in Dover to [balance the community] because well-rounded communities should have both affluent and poor people.” “I’m not opposed to that but you have to find a way to keep the poor people in that neighbourhood.
“And that’s not part of the discourse.”