Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Who do we want to be?


Over the past several years, EbM has spent a lot of time discussing this issue, how our project could be be harmful to the sites' communities. We hope this is never the case, but every install carries the risk of  gentrification in it.
We have looked at Detroit properties since the start of EbM.
We have opted against purchasing a property in Detroit in large part because we are not a mature enough organization to address the complex issues and responsibilities of building there. It is a site where, I suspect, we would need to live, to engage day to day, in order to feel certain that our installation wasn't more harmful than beneficial to the community.
Speaking of which, last week we were offered three properties in Chicago. The properties consist of six city lots total. They are not fully contiguous. I am going down to look at them this coming weekend. I will post photos here for everybody.
The issue these lots raise is similar to the issue lots in Detroit would raise, they are in community where a sited artwork will need far more support and engagement than any previous installations. For any project by EbM to succeed on these lots, we will have to change as an organization.
I think this is probably not a bad thing. We have talked a lot over the years about incorporating and trying to become a more traditional arts/culture business. We have not done so, I think, because our simple, amateurish approach is fairly fulfilling while remaining free of too many obligations and responsibilities. It has been fairly risk-free. If we move forward with these properties, that will have to change completely.
RIME is already pushing us in the direction of this change. If we accept these Chicago properties, we will experience a much greater, much higher pressure change.
We are truly blessed to have such difficult choices to make! :-)


  1. A social media user asked: What is to be gained, what is to be lost?
    Here are my first thoughts:
    Gains: an opportunity to truly impact a community; a chance to work very closely with local organizations long term; a chance to put a public work in a major city; a chance to nurture a work and a site; a higher profile and the contacts/resources that can come with that; a chance to eventually have a space to serve as EbMuseum, community arts center, terraforming brainstorming station, gallery, RIMusEum...
    Additionally, one of the original goals of EbM was to grow into a non-profit that does tackle big, complex projects around the world; that tackles the difficult moral and philosophical issues inherent in public art, and more so, our claim to be altering the planet permanently, to be terraforming. This pushes that...
    Losses: Mishandled, liability issues could easily bankrupt/destroy the project; we could do irreparable damage to our (slight, admittedly) reputation; we could misallocate resources, time and money, at an early stage of the project when they should be spent on the upcoming installs in 02015, 02016, and 02017, as well as RIME; related to this, an arguably greater resource, our focus, could be further splintered at a time when we are struggling to launch a new program, RIME, while maintaining a regular installation schedule, and embarking on our first installs outside the US, in 02016.
    I would add that we could do damage to the community where the sites are located, but the truth is I think that would be grotesque hubris. I don't think we could.

  2. LSP continues: this could be grotesque naivety on my part, alternately
    SuperSecret Social Median: Yes to the possible gains -- and yes to the inherent risks of growing, which are not really the same as losses, as you describe -- what you describe are risks, as I see it. Losses might be more along the lines of losing creative direction (with a corporate partner, for example) or losing focus on community relationships in favor of tourism type projects. YES to tackling the "moral and philosophical issues inherent in public art." As I see it, just by considering these questions, you are already moving in the right direction. YES.
    LSP replies: Well, our 500,000 year plan, which is a part of our business plan, though come to think of it I have never shared it with any of the other EbMoonites, so it is not an integral part of our business plan so much as a super secret part...
    our 500,000 year plan does call for us to become more corporatized in the near future (relatively speaking), and for me to be "retired" shortly thereafter from my post as Director due to "eccentricities" which could have a negative impact on the business' mission.
    So, the losses you point to are an expected, and even necessary part of our long term strategy as an art collaborative.
    We are not, however at the point scheduled for these losses.
    The SSSM observes: Things just got more interesting. You had my attention at "eccentricities which could have a negative impact on business." I do not know what it means, but my imagination is making things up as I type...
    Simultaneously I continue to ramble: (To allay any fears you might have, I am working on a plan that takes into account Roger Penrose's theory of conformal cyclic cosmology, allowing for an ∞ year plan.)
    Then I see her comment as mine posts: in light of our passing in the electric nether comments, not fears about the eccentricity, but about lack of foresight and grandiose thinking
    I am working on ways to ensure EbM passes through the singularity at the end of this universe and the beginning of the next
    the obvious solution is to declare that singularity an Earthbound Readymade and be done with it. That is lazy thinking, however. I am certain there is a better, more tangible way of inhabiting the singularity as artwork