P A N D E M I C.
Right kids, get your chops around this:
P A N D E M I C is a socially inclusive art event based on the Situationist International and it’s political ethos. Particularly “The Society of the Spectacle” by Guy Debord, and the ideas of reclaiming space, reappropriating images and the concept that in an advanced capitalist society we experience life through a representation of reality in the form of advertising, prescribed gender and social roles via media manipulation which leads to the population living in a substitute for reality instead of living reality itself.
‘Bullshit!’ Pete screams. ‘What the hell?’ says I.
‘At least they’re doing something’ says the bloke on the National Express Coach, at the end our extended and somewhat confused discussion.
My admittedly rather wet attempts at investigative journalism elicited the following response:
What do YOU think it is? all text – and links to other sources are on the Facebook page. It is not for us to define any longer!
And so, I present a sum up of whatever the devil I can make out about the P A N D E M I C phenomenon below.
What’s ‘so-progressive-that-it-makes-me-want-to-dig-up-Orwell-and-do-a-celebratory-dance-with-him-because-we’re-not-in-1984’ about it?
The premise is good.
This is an everybody-in event. All submissions are welcome. There’s no art snobbery here. The inherent worth of a piece of work seems to be in its individuality.
The Riverside, Bank Street Arts et al. could potentially turn into a graffiti ridden lav’ wall, and I love this as an idea. I clean toilets for a living and I can tell you, in the privacy of the cubicle, the truth outs. Free expression is splashed all over them, be it sad, lowly, angry, or inspired scrawls. It’s unrestricted by the terms of what we can usually say in public.
I resent having to scrub them out because I see things there that I don’t usually see.
P A N D E M I C will at best create a space for voices usually unheard, and in turn open up the public’s imagination about the other people around them – their wants, needs, prerogatives and deserts – which isn’t created by a media that has an agenda in keeping up the stereotypes.
Empathising with your fellow wo(man) is the first step in being able to collectively challenge a societal status-quo that frankly isn’t working for many of us. It’s a long shot, but it’s a damn good idea.
What’s ‘so-frustratingly-alienating-that-it makes-me-want-to-do-a-Virginia-Woolf’ about it?
Let’s get to the bare bones of the business – Typhoid Mary only spread typhoid to the people she cooked for. By which I mean, P A N D E M IC won’t hit every demographic. It just hasn’t been close up and personal enough with most of them for infection to take hold.
The facebook group is full of students; no bad thing. But I’d hazard a guess that the majority of people who haven’t been in higher education wouldn’t have a clue about half the political terms and academic theory that are being hurled around. Not that they couldn’t understand the concept, they just wouldn’t understand it when it’s being put that way.
If the spiel could be put in plain English, it’d be great for these activities to get going in schools, Sure Starts, community centres. The Old Junior School in Sharrow has refugees passing through constantly. They experience a side of Sheffield that as a citizen I feel I should know about. I teach an English class full of people who can’t vote. Shouldn’t they express themselves as part of this?
Some innovative stuff has come out of P A N D E M I C already. John Ledger is already tugging at the media blindfold with his work here: http://johnledger.blogspot.com/2011/11/if-i-dont-document-this-and-nobody.html
I can’t wait to see what happens with P A N D E M I C. I hope it’s as contagious as it’s name.
Finally, my suggested anthem for this eye-opener of a movement? The terrific Ian Brown’s F.E.A.R