CASTLEMAINE GATHERING #2:

Activation #2 CIVIC IMAGINATION AND ARTISTS

“The reach of artistic aesthetic imagination shapes the capacity of art to play a role in the ongoing dynamic conversation that shapes civic possibility or imagination.”
Civic Imagination and Artists meet in the following questions:
• Why do we make art here, and how does that sit with or within events that make sense here?
Does what we make and how we make it here:
embrace the public aspect of aesthetics, raise awareness, transcend established social and political boundaries, bridge gaps between fractured and fragmented narratives, disrupt social customs, break cultural taboos, puncture complacency, transgress the conventions of art, or allow for disconnection, fragmentation, friction and lack of interest to have an impact on the outcome.?

Pivotal Role
The idea of artists as catalysts or provocateurs in society is not new, nor is the notion that artists play important roles in the civic realm: shaping history; moulding cities, towns, and nations.
The powerful role of music during the Civil Rights Movement and the critical awareness inspired by visual and performing artists at the height of the AIDS epidemic exemplify the profound civic impact the arts have had for example in the United States over many decades. The history of connections between the arts and the civic realm is long and rich, and it continues today:
• What is the place of art in public in the regional context in which you are creating?
• Does it hide or obscure differing perspectives through a pleasing state of false consciousness? Version Happy Clappy
• Is it for example creating a perception of the benefits of being in civil society as distinct from a state of nature? Version Bread and fishes
• Might it perhaps remind citizens of their role in the body politic whilst at the same time hiding from them the nature of the contract that has been made with ‘the state’ in order to enjoy the benefits of a civil society. Version In the National Interest
• Or does it bring us closer to a perceived gulf between the art world and the ‘real world’ and bring us closer to the ‘absolute reality’ of our “unmediated and uncontaminated animality”? Version The Emperor Wears No Clothes
• Is it about what it might take to live ‘in common’? Version Citizens with rights and Citizens of the World
• Or something else?

Salon #1 ‘Castlemaine – the movie’ - Civic Imagination and Live Art
Overview of salon discussion questions:
• How does a regional town like Castlemaine imagine itself?
• How does it imagine its adversaries?
• How does it shape its presence, time, world, future?
• What does this mean as material for Live Art artists?
• What from Castlemaine can be applied elsewhere?

What is Castlemaine?
It is a history of dissent, its gold mining past, a vibrant and growing arts community, its family industries, its bogan to billionaire social mix, the hippies of the 70s, its rural hinterland, the vintage culture, no fast food franchise culture, a sustainable living culture, a food and wine culture tourist destination, its cluster of small towns with separate identities and geographies.
What informs the civic imagination of a rural town like Castlemaine?
What informs the many facets of Castlemaine’s identity?
How do people see it in 20 years?

Castlemaine guests present discussing how Castlemaine imagines itself:
David Bannear (Dept. Sustainability and Environment and historian),
Doug Ralph (5th generation resident and environmentalist),
Martin Paten (AD Castlemaine State Festival),

If Castlemaine was a movie what would it be?
BEN “Prison Town”
Grappling with:
• Self-identity
• Change
• Obsession of self-image
Wave of commuters

FRANCA “Greylands”
Isolate different parts of community – Rednecks etc.
Extremities of community cultures and relationship to landscape
Stereotypes of community cultures and relationship to landscape
Dissecting and interacting of disparate social groups
Stoushes make up the town – keep the town alive
Democracy (gold is a democratic mineral)

PAUL “Zelig”
Metamorphosis
Taking on others persona – how many characters could you be in a day?
Could one come out of nowhere to run for government?
Egalitarian
White
Is 25 years a local? Who defines this?

STEVE “Pyrite”
Australian gothic tale of two warring families – the hipsters & the rednecks – since the goldrush.

TAM “Mamas & the Papas”
Homebase
People living to be someone else
Lifestyle choice

JESS “Dinner in the Bronx”
doco going into Castlemaine Bronx and get their perspective of Castlemaine
Opening helicopter shot

KAT “Not the Castlemaine I used to know”
Ghost town
Pushy Rednecks

Salon #2 Castlemaine: the MOVERS – Civic Engagement in Castlemaine
Overview of salon discussion questions:
• Which events and issues from the past and present inform how Mt Alexander Shire citizens engage in civic action?
• How might civic engagement inform Mt Alexander Shire’s identity?
• Who and what drives civic engagement in Mt Alexander Shire?
• What forms of civic engagement in Mt Alexander Shire shape its present and create the future?
• What from Mt Alexander Shire can be applied elsewhere?
• What does this mean as material for Live Art artists?
• What informs the way people engage with the town?

Castlemaine guests present discussing what and who moves Castlemaine when:
Erin Sales (EPIC, Enough Pokies In Castlemaine)
Chan Nyok (South Sudanese Community)
Jacqueline Brodie Hans (Volunteer)
Janet Cropley, (Mayor, Mount Alexander Shire)
Jacinta Walsh (Community House)

Discussion Notes on Movers & Civic Engagement
• Cultural leaders look to artists
• Artists have ability to shine spotlight on non-art to reframe as art
• Labelling & Stereotyping of people (blow-ins, latte swillers, hippies, rednecks)
o When is it okay to label?
o How many labels can one have
• Highlighting the division not the commonality of individualism
• How do you make a simple statement that is not a judgement and is resonant?
• Castlemaine is fluid
• How do regional communities bounce back when
• Change is inherent – connection between being
• Creative/change/resilience
• Going to an uncomfortable place
• How do we as artists help people shift from being uncomfortable to comfortable within risks?
• Play, leadership
• How do you prepare for change?
• How do you grapple with Solistalgia (Buddhist philosophy of disengagement/un attachment/ non-resistance)?
• A roadtrip – it’s what happens between the beginning and destination
• Solistalgia – distress / homesickness you have when you haven’t left home
• Catastrophe – it’s role – fire, flood etc.
• Culture & artistic leadership as a way for people to digest change / adapt / respond to change
• Be unafraid to step into complexity / ambiguity
• Ambiguity – no singular sense
• Simplicity doesn’t equal simplistic
• ‘Scarcity of Resources ‘ ⇒ ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’

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