On October 12, the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley and the Curatorial Practice at the California College of the Arts are partnering to host a live-streaming of the Creative Time Summit, an annual conference in New York that brings together cultural producers–including artists, critics, writers, and curators–to discuss how their work engages pressing issues affecting our world. To jump-start the conversation in advance of the event, attendees have been asked to submit a paragraph on a keyword associated with one of the summit themes: Inequities, Occupations, Making, or Tactics. This posting is by Jimmy Li, student in American Cybercultures at UC Berkeley.
Inequity is a growing problem both here in the United States and abroad at the global level. This trend of a widening gap between the rich and the poor is extremely concerning to me because it belies growing instability in world political systems. We have observed these symptoms in the past and in the present: in the decline of old empires, in troubled countries such as Greece, even in our own United States. It is even more worrisome to me than the fear-mongering media says it is because I am concerned about the long-term stability of the United States, which, in the past, has been noted for its remarkably stable political system. That stable political system is one of the reasons business flourished in our country; businessmen could operate here without fear of sudden and radical government changes. And now, in the post-9/11 world, I find myself reading online comments in which people genuinely believe and warn of the United States being an empire in sharp and severe decline! To say the very least… it is indeed concerning. In retrospect, I imagine it must also be concerning to a great deal of others as well, considering the (disappointing gentle) wake of phenomena such as the occupation movement. People are aware of these problems, which is excellent, but, unfortunately, no one is quite sure how to fix them. We waver when it comes to the points because there is no solid ground to stand upon. I think that there is general consensus, though, that inequity is slowly but surely ripping the country apart. In order to combat inequity, we must be able to recognize it as a major contributor to this nation’s socioeconomic problems. Alright. Done. But where are the solutions? It seems, most unfortunately, that problems of this magnitude and scope don’t have easy and fast solutions. I wish that more people were thinking about these challenges because they require more than legislative change and new political leaders–they require a fundamental change in the way in which we think and act in our daily personal and corporate lives. The Creative Time Summit is of great interest to me because I would very much like to see how pioneering artists intend to change things in such a fundamental way through art. While knowledgeable in many things, I am rather ignorant when it comes to art, so it will be exciting to see how forward-thinking artists of the day approach big concerns such as global inequity. My hope is that it will consist of useful and practical solutions to common problems. It seems more common these days to see unfocused and vague anger towards the wealthy, which is, in a way, good, but better if people can channel their dissatisfaction with the status quo towards useful and productive means. That’s really the core of what this very general movement against inequity needs: a focused way for individuals and not conglomerates to contribute towards building a better society. Where better to find that than in a gathering of passionate artists, I suppose?