< a : t > The Art of Organising - Project Idea by Bjørn Bjarre

The Artists with Children Club (TACC)




There are several myths that maintain the uncompatibility of artists and children: The myth that the work of art as such, or the act of creativity in itself, are the artist´s "children", the myth that the artist is an outsider and nothing but an irresponsible and playful child - and finally, the myth that family and children are an obstacle for a successful career.

These myths are entwined and they are caused by the supposition that artists are considered to be antisocial and compulsive persons who have committed their lives to ART - so that they have neither the time nor the inclination to deal with the everyday activities of life.

The generation of the nineties has rebelled against this part of "the artist myth". Even so, the traditional social and political structures are not suitable for artists with children. It is often difficult to establish and maintain a social network in a globalised and individualistic society, where local networks and the family unit - with more single parents and children from divided homes than earlier - are becoming weaker. This is even more so the case for artists - who are often left out of the traditional networks, like the social situation of the regular working place. A general feeling among artists that they don´t share the traditional values of most regular workers also add to this situation.

Most artists have limited social arenas for interaction. If they are not sharing a studio with other artists, then it is only the art gallery opening which offers a social meeting arena. The opening often becomes a sort of circus show, a form of cat-walk or a social-capitalistic jungle where only the strong survive. The opening represents - as it were - the western world´s focus on the mentality of competition and elitism. For artists with children it may also be difficult to slip away at night to attend exhibition openings - and if one brings the children they often react with expressions like «art is boring», «I want an ice cream» or «I want to go home».

Anyway, complaining is useful only if it leads to action! I therefore wish to make the following proposal to The Art of Organising: The establishment of a club for artists with children, with the following purpose: Fun and games, social interaction and building of networks in order to augment the quality of life for artists and their children.

It goes without saying that the results of such a club is difficult to foresee. Maybe it will come to nothing, but it may - in the long run - also lead to artistic cooperations, friendships and even life-long relationships. However, a more immediate purpose will be to create a meeting point for previously unacquainted people with similar interests.

What then about the criteria for membership in such a club? It is not at all certain that artists with children do in fact have common interests - besides a general interest in their craft and their progeny. I therefore feel that the club must be open for «artists» in an expanded sense of the word. That is to say, persons with - how can I put it - an open attitude to life; experimenting, curious, untraditional persons with bikes, funny hats and dirt under their fingernails!

But - the many prejudices and myths about artists make it difficult to identify the target group - because the relevant persons are inherently heterogeneous. This problem visualises the process - and art - of organising as such and the club may therefore become the very place where this problem may find its solution. It is not the works and doings of the members which should be considered as art, but rather the organising itself, and the documentation in the form of photographs, film clips and diary entries which will be published on the internet. It also goes without saying that the internet, and the old fashioned phone lines that support it, should be used by the members as a means of communication.

The documentation will be the club´s outward representation and it may function as an inspiration for the establishment of similar clubs elsewhere - since each club should be locally situated, because of the physicality of real life gatherings. The creative work with the documentation will also give the members an opportunity to learn more about modern information technology - and for the children it may be a fun and motivating way of getting to know the ´net. Finally, internet may be used to begin with - in order to attract members by the mass mailing of an e-mail invitation.

So - what is exciting about this project is to find out if it is at all possible to establish some kind of organisation on the basis described above, if the individual member will feel that he or she may gain something interesting from the gatherings and if the social situations will function as intended - that is, to create a new social arena for the exchange of experiences and ideas - joy and life! In other words - a "room" that may hopefully counteract the tendency towards isolation, loneliness and dissolution of networks and the general feeling of hopelessness and lack of action which permeate the political world. It is not an effort to maintain traditional social institutions - but on the other hand, an effort to create new alternatives. It may be considered as a social experiment without much risk if it leads to nothing. It will be up to the participants to fill it with meaning - not unlike a work of art.

Bjørn Bjarre - Oslo, June 2001