After a bit of a debate about cultural appropriation a few months ago I asked my local warehouse community/road what they thought about it in particular in regard to work that I had done and work that was proposing to do..
The question was
‘HI GUYS!!!! Question about cultural appropriation… What do people think for example about me making a tipi for an installation?? … Im not looking at it to emulate the native american culture… but as a reference to a mystical space… Thoughts?? Being a white new zealand/british male my nz culture is based around sports, beaches and the outdoors I guess… having lived in london now 9 years i feel somewhat disconnected from the NZ way of life… and… well having live 24 years in NZ I never really felt that connected to being british apart from watching monty python and harry enfield with my british father So currently in a mystical no mans land and find affinities with other cultural philosophies and ways of life I’m starting to tetter along the line of cultural appropriation, using a Chinese mask for example to reference eastern philosophy and also a venetian plague doctor mask. I also play tibetan and tribal music in the background of vids and performances and use other languages in my work. I believe it would be the intention of the artist to be the guide between positive or negative connotations. My work is not to exploit other cultures. Rather find a type of connectedness and an appreciation to all walks of humanity.. I understand this will probably open up a massive can of worms… But I am interested in what the out come of the discussion will be… and to try and get a bit more understanding into this being a white new zealand/british male. p.s when i can get enough money together and do a little research im going to get a ancestral DNA test done… As… I was actually born with a mongolian spot, I also I know on my dads side I have romani gypsy and have a defect on my hand that is traced back to norse vikings a bit of a mix… and plenty to delve into… Also want to start looking into past lives… but thats a whole other story haha…. ‘

The result..100’s of replies creating a pdf with 20 PAGES!!!  . Pretty amazing how this exploded, loads of great input there, both positive and negative. check it out for yourself.

Here-

Fountayne Road Community Cultural Appropriation Debate

 

In attempt to sum up I posted this
‘Wow guys thanks a lot! so many opinions and and thoughtful ideas to ponder, research and take into consideration.

Its great!! Its what art should be doing!! Stirring up questions and searching for answers… and if a theoretical piece can do this, imagine what a real piece could do  (not saying that i am going to)

I wish the stirrings were more along the lines of my intention; the esoteric, consciousness and the metaphysical rather than about race/ cultural appropriation.. But its part of a greater whole I guess..

And its a super example of what I think the internet should also be for… Rather than just a tool for distraction it is also a conduit for social conversation and discord, of course looking into cultures and speaking those that are affected and relative makes sense. My community(page) which Ive seen grow from 0 to over 14000 people, which I believe to be a grand cross section of humanity was my first (but not last) port of call and i do intend to contact invested cultures directly in the future.

Also this was also a great example of why the direction of and the reason I am using streaming and social media a lot in my work these days.. the idea is that art and society now days is a conversation its not a finished product it is a democratic convention of sorts… agreed upon(or no).

So much better than going on our community page and seeing someone trying to sell a bed or rent a room….

I hope for many enlightened and thoughtful discussions in the future…

MUCH AWESOMENESS!
BZ’
———————–

I left it at that but as you can see it goes on a bit more, its a great example of the power of art and the internet to really spark debate and provoke thought and discussions.

Blair Zaye