Host: Susuana Amoah, ONCA Gallery Supervisor
Guests: Matice Moore, Laurèl Hadleigh and Tsai Tung Li
Susuana: Hi, I’m Susuana, I’m from ONCA, and today I’m on the barge talking to our new artist in residence. They’re just gonna go round and tell us a bit about themselves.
Matice: Hi my name is Matice Moore and I identify as a Black Queer artist who focuses primarily in painting and printmaking.
Laurèl: Hi, I’m Laurèl Hadleigh, I’m an artist, activist and also work in creative education. I work mainly with video and natural materials sometimes too.
Tsai Tung Li: Hi I’m Tsai Tung Li, I’m an illustrator from Taiwan and now just living in Brighton.
Susuana: So what made you guys apply for the residency?
Laurèl: For me personally, it was just talking about, like when I saw it, it was like biodiversity, racial justice, loss, climate change and I was like these are all the things that I think about and talk about and make work about all the time and it would be kind of silly if I didn’t at least go into that open evening and meet the people that were involved. So I think for me it was really about that chance for connection and that term for focus is what drew me to apply.
Matice: Yeah I think similarly, when I saw the call for proposals, I was really interested in what I saw as an intersection between racial justice, ecological justice and biodiversity, and so I was really curious about working at that intersection and interested in the setting of working on a barge looking at a community base sort of art space and the types of like thinking and collaborating that happens in the space.
Tsai: For me, I think it’s like, because I did some research before I went to the workshop for the art residency project and I was quite inspired by some … on the website and I’m thinking maybe this is the chance that I could do something like more than personal works about art. It could be something related to our environment and make people feel awareness of what really happened or something important.
Matice: I was also really interested in the fact that this was a call for PoC artists, I feel like it’s rare that I see residencies that are specifically looking to create space, a People of Colour only space, to explore these ideas and concepts and so I was also interested in that aspect of the environment we’ll be working in.
Laurèl: Yeah it was really interesting that that kind of perspective was like set immediately and the importance of that was highlighted because obviously that is so often missing from media, when you talk about climate justice or when you see people talking about climate justice it’s often framed in a certain way and it has like its trends… that to come from a kind of creative perspective and a perspective of People of Colour is not something that often is given a platform. So it seemed like a really unique opportunity for that and I think the open evening was really interesting because I think there were maybe 15 of us in a room or thereabout and it was people from different disciplines and people from different places in the world, we had someone, we had an academic there also which I assume there’s many academics but someone specifically had been studying climate change and it was really great to have all those, I guess, ideas and minds in a room and it was really interesting we were given tasks, like kind of group tasks, to be like “okay well if you’re looking at this, what kind of exhibition would you want to make if this was your theme”. It was like a really quick way to meet other creatives and talk about our areas of interest and our methods and also introduce us to new stories and new, I can’t think of the word! To introduce us to new stories but also new elements of ...
Tsai: It’s like, we’re working with people in different practices, you have like different ideas and different sources, so you can come up with the new things, you never thought about.
Susuana: Okay so you’re all from different backgrounds: Taiwan, London, the States. I was wondering how narratives around climate change and the environment is portrayed there, what are your thoughts around inclusion of people from different races, indigenous people, is that reflected in the media that you see?
Matice: I know that in the United States, one of the things we’re really struggling with is the denial of climate change and so I think especially right now in this political moment the struggle is like really illuminating how real climate change is and how we need to take dramatic steps at like the highest levels of government (on down?) to both address the impacts of climate change and prevent further impact, further loss, further destruction of the environment. And so you know, I think depending on where in the United States you are and probably your positionality, awareness or whatnot, I mean there’s, you know, like people are staging small scale and large scale direct action to try to raise awareness, you know from like, you know camping huts, like where I live in Arizona right, like one of the issues we have is that Arizona is (or where I’m from I dunno if I say where I live or where I’m from) but there’s a lot of like desert and mountains, you know and like land that’s being excessively mined for mineral resources and a lot of that land that’s being excessively mined is sacred indigenous land. And so how we support folks who are indigenous to the land and to the space, so like mobilise resources, mobilise people to actively resist the degradation that’s happening and how we send that message to our political officials and whoever that are signing the contracts and selling off the land without people knowing or people involvement in those contracts and those processes. So yeah I think that’s an ongoing battle in terms of the awareness of the issue on multiple levels that impacts people.
Laurèl: I’m here in London, in the UK, and I think at the moment there’s a lot of focus on kind of individual responsibility, so stuff that you see about plastic bags when you go shopping, like plastic straws and all that sort of stuff, which obviously is important, that can also relate in to what you were saying, we need to look at responsibility, corporate responsibility and government level responsibility and it feels like a lot of the media, although some will talk about that, a lot of the media tries to angle it to be like “oh no it’s down to you” it’s what kind of packaging this comes in or what kind of washing up liquid you use and so on. It seems to try and be deflecting, obviously there’s a lot of intention behind it and it is important but there seems to be a big deflection of these huge companies, these mine companies and these companies like Nestlé or whatever trying to privatise water, it’s just ridiculous, awful, violent impossible kind of reality that has been created. It seems like all that is kind of told that’s the way the world works, that’s what you have to accept. I was at a talk recently, where someone said something really interesting like “it’s easier for people to imagine the end of the world than it is for them to imagine the end of capitalism” and it’s almost kind of, these huge things are going on in, for some people, what feels like the background of their lives, and it’s redound to these small moments and small choices but I’m hoping as things are being uncovered and as information is being shared, we’re all starting to realise we’re not as disconnected from those larger powers as we think.
Tsai: I’m from Taiwan and I think these issues happen all over the world right but I think some policies are over similar, like the plastic bag issues. This is also policy from my government, they’re trying to cut down the use of plastic bags and another big problem in my country I think it’s about the climate because I think the climate change, and my country is very humid and hot places, in summer we normally go to 35/36 degrees so we definitely have to use the air conditioner in my country and now people are starting to struggle, should we start to cut down the air conditioner or shall we just keep using it because this is too hot. Yeah and it’s really struggling because, the Garma, they tried to be the first people to make this policy so in a lot of government offices, they have a rule where you can’t turn on the air conditioner below 30 degrees or something and I always wish that people could follow this and I think the thing we could do for climate change or any issues that we could anything for the little, the people could do little things. If all the people do the little things it can be a big change for the world.
Susuana: So today’s been day 1 on the barge all together, how do you feel about this particular residency? I know it’s not the usual residency, one it being People of Colour and two: it being on a boat that’s constantly rocking but so far how has your experience been, what are you looking forward to exploring?
Matice: So far it’s been a really unique experience, I like that we started with identifying the connections between our work and so I think that in art making spaces and residency spaces I think that there’s a heavy emphasis on the individual (at least in the spaces I’ve been in) you know your individual work, your individual ideas, having space and time to yourself and in this space it really feels like we are curious about and interested in your individual perspectives and backgrounds, at the same time the connections that can be made between your work and between your ideas and between the space so I like that balance between the individual and the collective and I’m excited to be the first residence on the barge-
Susuana: Artists residence, yeah. We had one, but they’re dancing people.
Matice: Yeah, right, right. So it will be the first, I dunno “official” residence, making something on the barge over a period of time. I’m excited about that and to be a part of this stage in the development and vision of the space.
Laurèl: Yeah, it’s been really great, I’ve had some sessions, I came for some days and there was no one else here, so I was just kind of like “cool” *laughs* but it’s a different energy now there’s more people here and it was really exciting to hear about both of your practices and to kind of get a sense of, I guess, the direction that we want to head in and how that will cross over. The rocking is really interesting, I think the on the boat thing, kind of makes it feel more… it’s like a weird safe space, you’re not going to .. it’s not like … because I’m used to the city, like London, it’s so quiet – I can’t remember the last time I had a space this kind of quiet to work in. It seems really able to sit with things and to reflect, I don’t feel as rushed as I normally do, which is a really nice feeling. And also, being with ONCA is particularly interesting because I’ve never worked with a gallery whose made things like we are here for social justice and for environmentalism so that’s a really interesting place to be.
Tsai: Yeah I think for me it’s my first time to do a residency and I’m very looking forward to it and it’s oh so very special for these places on a barge. Yeah, we have our own spaces but we can also see some people or different things happening upstairs.
Laurèl: Yeah that’s actually really nice as well to walk in in the day and there to be an activity or workshop going on and be around that creative energy. Also even down here the light sometimes that comes through the window, how it reflects, how the water reflects the light on the ceiling and different things like that that you don’t get anywhere else.
Susuana: So final question, what do you think the artist’s role is in climate change, activism and activism around the environment. What role would you think artists can play in educating people but also fighting for change.
Laurèl: I think one of the roles of the artist to perhaps amplify what’s already out there, what’s already going on and to kind of offer a creative perspective like something that hopefully can be a place to come for rest or something hopeful for something that can contribute to inspire creative or alternative solutions. I like to think… I know a lot of people like art to observe but I quite like art that instigates.
Tsai: For me I think it’s… I like to make a image that can tell a story so maybe it’s like I can raise awareness between people so they could see what’s happening or see what might happen in the future so it’s kind of like educating maybe.
Matice: I think it’s, I’m gonna say this and this is being recorded and then I’m going to look it up later and not be upset with myself for misquoting, but I think it’s Tony Cade Bambara who said the role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible and I really like that idea, especially when we talk about climate change and the ways in which we can move through our everyday lives and not be aware of the impacts of climate change, so how artists both make the impact or the movement to address the impacts of climate change visible, tangible and more real for people – how we give it form, how we give it shape, how we put language to it, how we essentially act as connectors I think between the idea and the lived experience of it is an exciting opportunity to me, it’s an important role for me to step into and it’s necessary right, if we’re going to resist, if we’re going to create different ways of living in alignment with the earth and with all the living things on the earth then I think artists are key to helping people make those connections.
Laurèl: I was just gonna say and hopefully completely in line with what you’re saying, it’s something that, it’s another way of making these issues accessible, not everyone goes to the same places for their news on climate change or what’s going on in the world. You said something about languages – art obviously is another language, another way of communicating and for some people maybe that’s a primary language.
Susuana: Great, well thank you for your interview today, I will be back next week to see what you’ve been up to, hopefully, you’ve made something interesting or had some more interesting conversations but you are now off to your tour of the marina.