A large part of my life is activism, art and the intersecting points between these subjects through actions. I propose a 12-week summer intensive where I will work towards an increased understanding of my relationships to art and activism by engaging heavily between both to better understand myself. During the summer, spanning mid-May to late August 2021, I will conduct two independent studies each exploring areas of my own arts creation practices and arts advocacy actions. This development of a proposal for two interlocking independent projects is a comprehensive response to my interest and needs as I move towards larger scopes of exploration in the future. The two projects are titled “possibilities of human intervention” for my practice-based arts creation which I will be working with Peter Morin on, and “artists, rights and activism: a basic income for all” for my advocacy-based actions which I will be working with Michelle Wyndham-West on to evaluate the work and support developments. Both mentors are aware of the projects and are in communication with each other, understanding their proximity to my work and how they each plan to grade their respective streams separately.

Fig 1, Work plan for interlocking relationships between projects.

My reasons for conducting these two electives in tandem is that they both feed into larger discussions of my holistic advocacy practices in the arts which will be the focus of a future major work project beginning this fall. An aspirational goal for this work is to take the project as far as it can go considering the major work project to be the foundation of possible PHD studies in the future. I hope to expand this project’s research scope beyond the specific aspects of basic income advocacy work and my own creation processes into larger structural recommendations for the arts sector and expect the major work project to develop a better understanding of individual artists, actions, and rights and relationships to major policy recommendations and governmental structures that impact the arts sector of Canada.

01 – possibilities of human intervention

practice-based arts creation

As an artist, I am exploring relationships between machine and body. This work is a continuation of my ongoing exploration of societal efficiency and redundancy, specifically in questioning the use of technology and our obsession with data. I am hyper-aware of the volume of practices that engage this subject, yet feel compelled to honestly explore it as it continuously impacts on my social well-being, stress levels and overall life in a “modern” world. I have spent the majority of my life working daily with machines, specifically computer interfaces for design and administration. My relationship to technology and the previous projects I have conducted have compiled dramatically over time, leading to this moment in which a reckoning must take place in my life. Do I continue on this pathway of technological assimilation or do I fight against societal norms and go off the grid? This is a huge question that I am struggling with in my work and social life as the love-hate relationship I have with the digital world is all encompassing.

early statement: My relationship with machines remains complicated as my arts practice spans both digital and analog technologies over the past 20 years. Many devices are invented to make life easier and replace human effort, yet these devices bring additional actions, requirements and life constraints with their implied convenience. As we continuously increase technological reliance, we add more emphasis on technological action-based behaviours adapting them into the social constructs of everyday life. This, combined with ever increasing corporate data hoarding, file obsession, and mass consumption forces me to question societal intentions as well as my own proximity and relevance to the world we live within.

For this summer project, I am proposing a process that is both research-based and practice-based; my research actions are compartmentalized into individual explorations, each viewable as individual works, yet my process also often engages in many factors viewed collectively to achieve overarching project impact. As an open-ended investigation into my relationship, I propose a series of time-based one-off performance happenings over a span of several months. These happenings can be a few hours or take multiple days in length with each responding to an identified idea, technology, or situation. My self-guided arts process will be as follows:

Fig 2. Process for artistic development of ideas and creation.

This directional pattern of behaviour mirrors my response to digital platforms where I broadcast to the world but have completely stopped engaging in exchanges online. The discussion stage is between living people and may be in person only, depending on the idea being explored. A key factor is that I am not creating new ways of being for others; I am seeking new ways of being for myself alone and then considering the impacts of this towards others.

02 – artists, rights and activism: a basic income for all

advocacy-based actions

I will spend the summer continuing my ongoing exploration of rights, activism, and the arts, specifically looking at the state of relations within basic income discussions. Although basic income has become more of a publicly explored subject lately with many articles and news coverage, it has been a large part of my life for a long time. As explained in my web article “the movement is part of my life”, basic income activism working with Zainub Verjee and Craig Berggold has become embedded as part of my ongoing social behaviour and my overall work life. I recently agreed to be a witness for a senate hearing regarding a related issue and have started discussions about a major campaign in the arts as well as several conference presentations over the summer both within Canada and internationally. All of this is currently speculative, but my goal is to spend considerable time working towards shared goals regarding basic income and how the arts sector overall would adapt if this life-changing initiative comes to fruition.

I need to conduct better research on the issue of basic income as I have an extensive understanding of current actions, but only a basic understanding of its roots. Craig and Zainub collectively have vast amounts of information about things that have taken place over generations in the arts and I hope to engage in extensive research that opens the subject up to me in a more comprehensive manner. This will allow my opinion to be grounded in a history of the subject with opinions that come from many sources.

Discussions of basic income, especially in relation to the arts sector, consider the precarious nature of the sector and how artists have never had job security in Canada. Even arts workers within many not-for-profits have no guarantees about their jobs, applying for and relying on government funding on a year-to-year basis or with multi-year funding as a best case scenario. As stated in my 2017 article Wake Up Ontario!”, the costs of inflation are not even a consideration in the budgets set forth by governments. The arts have been a compartmentalized aspect of society left to struggle within the allotments they are given. This also makes the arts sector an ongoing bargaining chip tokenized during elections. What are the gaps in discourses and how can actions draw the attention of policy makers? Considering the impacts of basic income to the sector and how the sector can make offerings that support basic income is a focus for me as I attempt to imagine pathways towards solutions.

I am proposing a process that is both research-based and practice-based; my research actions are compartmentalized into explorations that are shared within a group environment, each action is treated as an individual work. Each compartmentalized action is monitored with updates given within groups ongoing. This process is relatively similar to that of my art creation yet I am working collectively engaging peers actively. My process will be as follows:

Fig 3. Process for exploration of advocacy ideas using consensus-based co-design.

As actions are defined and set in motion they impact the overall project and its outcomes. Documentation of actions will be conducted in the form of journaling and sharing design, written and documented efforts in a variety of forms supporting the basic income movement and pushing for increased standards of living.

considerations entering into the summer

research, responses and pathways forward

Entering the summer, I will be exploring my own arts creation as a performance-based multi-artist and activating my advocacy skills by working within national and international circles that explore basic income, both informing my understanding of the complexity of relationships and their proximity to each other. Moving forward with preliminary research and arts actions I will ask myself a series of questions:

    • What are the social determinants impacting my health that can be monitored to establish relationality between actions?
    • How is an individual arts practice impacted through collaborative co-design processes and how does my own process impact others?
    • How can I consider various world-view perspectives of human needs beyond my own as an artist and working arts professional?
    • How can explorations go further than my individualism to address family health, public health, and especially a broader economic health in the arts and in this country?
    • Can my arts offerings become a vehicle for delivering messages that impact larger groups of people relevant as advocacy tools?

Reflecting on these larger questions while defining and redefining the scope of my work in both streams will be critical for identifying factors to carry into the fall as well as an overall process of interaction that informs future project scopes. The interlocking of artistic practice and arts advocacy is a crucial component to remaining relevant. For me, my arts practice is consistently informed by social justice and advocacy efforts both within Canada and globally while my activism must remain relevant to artists as my peers and core stakeholders. Exploring these connectivities will allow me to understand various determinants impacting the sector overall and give me ideas about future co-design processes and how they can support a healthier arts sector. Many aspects of this project will begin this summer and flow into the fall and future years, but much of the momentum begins now.

I am excited at what lies ahead for all of us. :)