Tuesday night walking home from the Papakura train station, I encountered two boys between the ages of 10 and 12 about to have a fight. One was yelling abusive things. I can’t remember exactly what, but the words fuck you, motherfucker, and cunt were all used in some shape or form. The other young boy threw stones in retaliation. Perhaps he was the instigator? I wasn’t sure. I stepped in and told them both to “stop it” and “go home” in my cut this shit out I’m tired aunty voice and with some coaxing they did.
I’m bringing up this story because as an education intern I think about how the institution can be more than what it is and how my programmes can engage the community in a meaningful way. I mean, it might already be engaging the community but how can it be better? It’s all well and good ticking the diversity box for funders. You can bring in different groups, talk about the conceptual framework of the exhibition and run workshops – but that module isn’t successful with all audiences, especially youth at risk.
You can argue that just by bringing a new audience into a space they’re actively engaging with the work, even though they might not know it. But when I think of those two young Maori/Polynesian boys, that is just simply not enough. Sure they deserve every opportunity to be in the space but why should they even care about Billy Apple and his work? (Sorry Billy, but you’re the first person that popped into my head). Even if I did create a fun workshop that some how managed to connect to Billy Apple’s practice what would those youth at risk get out of it?
The art gallery is just so disconnected from them and how they live their lives.
I have no answers just many questions, concerns and some initial scheming with peers as I create programmes. As an educator I’m not trying to think of ways to showcase how amazing the show or the artist is, I’m not even trying to connect audiences such as youth to Artspace and the brand. Instead what I care about is how Artspace and its community can connect with youth and how we can create programmes that showcase how amazing they are, supporting their needs using contemporary art as a springboard.