CHRISTMAS

in collaboration with PATRICK TAGOE TURKSON (Ghana), MICHAEL VANDELEUR (Australia), SORA TAKAYAMA (Japan) and SINA MOSER (Austria): performances took place in Australia, Austria, Ghana and India – September to December 2009 – final work was developed in Fremantle,Western Australia

HDvideo 06’24 min                                                                                             VIDEO STILL EMOTIONAL SEASONS –  CHRISMAS

Blu-ray DISC distributed and available through Contemporary Arts Media Melbourne/London – leading consultant for Arts Education

artists’ STATEMENTS:

Patrick Tagoe-Turkson (Mixed Media Artist, Ghana): Coming from a family of 14 children, 4 step mothers and a father living together in a traditional compound house of four bedrooms without a hall and a kitchen, new things, like clothes, shoes, eating rice and chicken and maybe having a toy is something I don’t usually bother my mind to think of, except when Christmas is approaching. Because items such as shoes from my father to us the children rotates, starting from the eldest child. So you can imagine how long it takes to get to my turn – “baby last”. However as part of the family’s decision, it was mandatory that our father buys each child a Christmas present during each Christmas season. This is what made Christmas very dear to me as a child. During my youthful days, I and my age mates in our local community will construct Christmas tents with palm fronds and decorate the interior with ribbons, balloons and whatever beautiful we lay hands on. We will then hang a wooden money box at the entrance so that people who visit our tents drop in some monies. We also made local fire crackers/bazookas from bamboo stems and carbide which we fire in the evening during story time in our Christmas tent. Imported fire crackers are now banned in Ghana during Christmas because of its abuse by the youth. This seems to have killed some of the energy in which most youth in Ghana carry into the Christmas season in time past. I however also observe during Christmas, some children (mostly those from poor families) put on face masks and dress fancifully as in masquerades fashion. They move in groups amidst drumming and dancing from one home to the other to solicit for support (gifts). This practice was also done by some local churches but without putting on masks. During Christmas some groups and individuals give used clothes and other items to the poor and needy. Children from rich homes get more sweets and gifts from their parents and friends. In not so long recent past, some rich children in Ghana were seen with coloured plastic sun glasses which made them see the world according to the dictates of the colours of the shades of the glasses when worn. There is exchange of Christmas cards. Christmas carols are played on the radios and everywhere. Some people, for the first time, repaint their homes and decorate them with Christmas trees, others go to church to draw resolutions and make new decisions for the coming year. That was some few years ago. Today nevertheless, the meaning of Christmas which came to me naturally whiles growing up seems totally different. It has become more of fun, recreation, discos and beach parties with little concern for the rest of the world. It has become the abuse of alcohol, which means more violence and accidents on our roads. The increase in garbage which engulfs our towns and cities during Christmas today is unimaginable. Immorality, teenage pregnancies, illegitimate children and diseases such as obesity and HIV Aids is destroying the future of many countries today. All these happenings may have some strings attached to the winds of overexcitement which carries our Christmas celebrations. It is thus about time that people become conscious about their emotions and the reasons with which they celebrate the season of Christmas.

Michael Vandeleur (Painter, Western Australia): Hi Bello: Guess you have heard of a poem that has been put to music and is often sung when we celebrate special occasions in Aussie history, like ANZAC day, Australia Day and my birthday! Anyway the name of this poem written by Dorethy McKeller is called My_Country and is also known as A Sunburnt Country. It`s all about our unspoilt outback country (the Bush) and not the cities because half of our population lived and worked in the bush then and didn`t live in city doll queues. Like you, I didn`t really know what I was going to do for your Moon Launch special project and only decided this afternoon that I would like to tell Patrick and the others involved what it is like living in this place of freedom (in the bush) that I have been born and grown up in and how I feel about it. Now days most of Australia`s population lives in the cities with much of their leisure time spent on or near water, be it oceans, lakes or rivers. However the wealth of our nation is produced far from the madding crowd. Currently mining is Australia`s major producer of revenue with rich deposits of our many resources exported unprocessed to overseas countries. Unfortunately, Australia in her wisdom does not deem it necessary to create more employment for our steadily increasing migrant workforce by developing value added industries. Christmas For me: Christmas day is that one day of the year when families gather together to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Many christians do this by attending special christmas services such as midnight mass, followed by the sharing of gifts and an extended family meal. One of the positives of Christmas is the organizing of gifts and essentials for the underprivileged in communities carried out by many and varied organizations. “The annual Christmas festival celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25” is how the dictionary defines what one of the most important days on the christian calendar. Tragically the true meaning of Christmas has been hijacked and corrupted by the commercialism, materialism and greed of the western world to such an extent that the majority now regard it as holiday in which to indulge their “wants”. Consequently the true meaning and origins of Christmas are being suffocated beneath a blanket of commercial propaganda by which we are all being seduced. Recently I was venting my negative feelings about Christmas and how our culture is being corrupted when a friend quickly interjected by asking “How many corrupt people do you actually know?” I must admit I did not know one really bad person. Then she asked if I could name any people or organizations who were doing good works. I was surprised that it didn’t take me any time to name about twenty! and this made me reflect on two facets of the media. The first being that papers must sell to survive, and as Shakespeare said “The evil man does lives on after him, the good is oft’ interred with their bones.” That is, bad news sells, good news is just very nice thank you! So when now reading my local paper I give the banner headlines a miss and check out the minor captions which contain much of the good news! Yes I must confess that I am greatly relieved to admit that my assessment of the media was right, but my assessment of the people was wrong. Looking back on my formative years life values were simple to translate as we only had black and white to translate our life values, not the distorted spectrum the “enlightened media” would have us contend with.

Sora Takayama (Poet, Japan, travelling through India at that time): The poem I read in Japanese: かつて一元論者は質素で慎ましいクリスマスを愛しただろう 今日一元論者は豪華できらびやかなクリスマスを愛するだろう 盲目と安心を添えて

Once, the monist must have loved a simple, modest Christmas
Now, the monist surely loves a Christmas that is lavish and splendid
Providing a comforting blindness

Once upon a time, monists enjoyed a small and simple Christmas. Today, monists would love a gorgeous and luxurious Christmas. But with blindness. It means that once monists believed in a monotheistic God. Today, monists believe in money. The monotheistic God and money gave us a relief and blindness, I think. This time, these monists (other than in Spinoza’s Philosophy) just believe in one aspect now.

Sina Moser (Video & Experimental Art, Austria)

EMOTIONAL SEASONS – project series 2010 in HD – experimentations with performance and new media art

  • Material for Christmas derives from performances in Australia, Austria, Ghana and India – December 2009
  • Video/sound material for The Cloned City was collected through onsite explorations in New Dubai – March 2010
  • Not quite kosher in Vienna results in an EndPresentation, an ArtFestival Live Performance and Interview – March to May 2010
  • At Artspace in Sydney develops Fool’s Gold during a studio residency – July to August 2010
  • In collaboration with SlowForward develops OffSeason for the Montmartre Art in the Park Festival Vienna – September 2010
  • Internal Room sets again performances by international artists in relation to each other – August to October 2010