Friday, September 10, 2004

squatting and the recovering catholic

Hey there!!!Do you have kids that you desperately want to turn into emotional cripplesbut you CANNOT bring yourself to committing child abuse????Well! why not get someone to do it for you????By signing up with the nearest organised religion and forking out megawadsfor one of their half rate educational institions you can have your childindoctrinated into astonishing levels of self loathing, social ignorance,authoritarianism and superstition, plus if you're lucky we'll throw in ahefty dose of physical if not sexual abuse from our celibate clergy at noextra cost.All guaranteed to turn your little sproglets into neurotic, painfullyunconfident, superstitious, paranoid emotional basket cases. They won'tblame you either, at worst, they'll reject their religion and feel fearfuland shameful about their lapse for ever and ever amen.I blame Jesus, mother mary, all the angels and saints and the most holyroman catholic apostolic church.Some how, Catholicism and SOCOG combined to imbue me with the firmest ofparanoid suspicions, that I was destined to eek my days in eternal squalorand misery, surrounded by those I loathe; vermin from all branches of theevolutionary tree, wheezing in dusty, mouldy, smoke filled, athsmatic hellholes, with cumbersome and dysfunctional whitegoods, rising damp, dry rot,termites, faulty plumbing, rapacious landlords, noise pollution, airpollution, mind pollution and indeed this has been my actual physicalreality for the past ten years.Every house I have lived in sydney has been a slumPart of me thought it was my punishment, for running away from the countryin the first place, and moving into a share house instead of a Universitycollege when i was 18.......Suffer little children who come unto me.Part of me feels deeply unworthy of everything that's good for me andcompletely incapable of ever receiving what I might actually want. GenerallyI have found it safer not to even imagine what that might be. As a sciencestudent I felt guilty and embarrassed to be walking the corridors of theBiomed building, not because I was surrounded by the halfwit crypto fascistimbecilic creationist sludge of BSSMania with the social skills ofDropsophila faeces, but because in my fascination with reading Globalhistory, Marxist Economics, contemporary French Feminism and learningspanish and being a pothead student hack i wasn't able to pepper my labbench repartee with stories of Ski Club BBQ's and 9am lecture summaries.I have very slowly shed my former insanely innaporpriate and incompetentroles as a practising Catholic and possible Scientist and I am seriouslyconsidering abandoning any possible attempt to work in an office either.Being on time, neat, well dressed and well behaved and organised are notwhat I am good at.Lord, I am not worthy to receive thee, but only say the word, and I shall behealed.Not so. I don't actually want any of these things. Including Jesus. I dofeel that I don't want these things, but I do feel more strongly that Idon't deserve them. I've ONLY JUST STOPPED TAKING COMMUNION.Catholicism is a useful way of articulating a passionate moral sense; not somuch into a coherent and constructive social movement to challenge injusticebut as an individualised messianic/martyrdom psychosis that disables anyreasoned attempt at social change or political organisation.I am the truth the light and the way.So while I find myself passionately outraged by injustices, inequalities,crimes against humanity and the future and equipped with a sophisticatedintellectual capacity to analyse and understand why such things happen, anyactions on my behalf to curtail anything, end up being frustrated by quickfix martyr crusades or more entrenched messiah reflexes.While I have avoided the pitfalls of chainsmoking macrobiotic veganazism, Ihave none the less sufferred spectaular episodes of deluded frustration. TheJanis Joplin Valerie Solanis combined reincarnation fantasy was a sociallyamusing but personally destructive episode and allowed the "being married toChe Guevara is more important than being a Lesbian" lifestyle disaster tofester longer than it should have. At least I got my BSC in the process?Maybe one day I'll have the courage to burn it.Recently I stopped believing i was Simone de Beauvoir. this was good. I wasno longer trying to explain or manage the actions of a Dementia ridden,liver failing Jean Paul Satre and his coterie of spawned lovers to a widercircle of aquaintances who I wasn't really interested in.What this meant wasthat in april I ended up cohabiting with people who were roughly my age withsimilar cultural and social interests, good communications skills, sounddomestic committments and pleasant demeanours.Living in a pleasant household was wonderful. Breakfast was no longer acoffee soaked avacado smeared growl against humanity, but a good excuse tochat and eat with other people.Unfortunately my bride of christ ghost still lurked. I hate Real EstateAgents, I hate renting, I hate SOCOG, I hate the housing commission. Iwanted to do something good and radical and wonderful and free.Squatting thebiscuit seemed like the answer. The Biscuit was SHAC, NOOF, the Deomondacult, and the antiSOCOG SATANIC alliance. We had wooden floorboards, Cedaruprights, heritage windows, holy statues, running water, a gas stove andsomeone installed a sink on the top level last week.but no showers.I got used to UTS. even though water used to flood everywhere and therewasn't enough room to swing a cat. UNSW showers were better. Art schooldoesn't have hot running water so things were rough there too.The biscuit was also enormous, dark, damp, cold, the phone was never chargedand we couldn't ring out. After four months it hadn't been raided, but therewas no fire escape and no adequate security. There were 47 creaky stairsbetween me and the toilet and I got sick of emptying my wee jar every 8hours. I got sick.When green stuff started coming out of my lungs it was time to go.Fortunately there was somewhere wonderful to go to. On the faith of aninterview and assurance one month ago, Anna and I borrowed Tims doona andpillow, caught a Bus to Alpha house and sat on the doorstep of number 5until someone came home. (OK actually we waited an hour, left a note, wentback to Tims, Got a phone call from Max and returned) there we collapsed ona spare mattress for a week, both coughing up green stuff, anna sweating andfeverish. It was OK. The magic yellow room was dry, warm, well lit and smokefree. We recovered.The first night I woke up in the middle of the night and snuck (into thenext room!) into the toilet. and there I saw it. Anna was dead to the world,but I woke her up and insisted she put in her contact lense (she's blind inone eye) and come in...........a bathtub.we had a warm bath at midnight, in the room next to the bedroom.It was simple sudsy lavender scented heaven with towels & bathmats & noclothing change & no holes in the floor or mould.This is paradise.Alpha house is wonderful and they wanted an artist. Thank god I'm not stillstudying science. I sadly moved my futon & greatly reduced mass of clothesfrom the squat on sunday.Gav wasn't there, rob had gone to the Desert, Stevewas staying in a house coz he thought the squat was too unhealthy for hisdog and Pablo had been on his own. Pablo is the squatter from heaven, he hasa trade and keen political intelligence and proven committment. Amidstchiding me for being a Petit Bourgeouise Dilletante he made a pully to lowermy futon and delivered it in his car to alpha house. I didn't have theenergy to organise anything else. My friend Sarah, took an afternoon off aconference and carloaded my clothes and books over.Moving out of Albert street had been a four day operation involving 2 x 2tonne truck loads, 80 kilos of boxes shipped to mums, plus three carloads,and this was AFTER the Garage Sale!!!!!! so for me, four carloads in anafternoon is pretty minimalist!!!!! Maybe I'll reach Suzi's phase ontravelling for 5 months with only a daypack but I doubt it. I've realisedtwo REALLY big things about myself. I am not a nomad and I am very afraid ofthe dark.I also hate the damp and the cold. I love having a phone and light and aroom of my own. I think I'm having a Virginia woolf Delusion. Havingrealised just how much I hate and love the above things I am now acutelyguilty.I feel really guilty and like a failed activist and like I don't deservewhat I actually want and need. Even though my rational mind keeps remindingme that having a fucked up back, influenza, terrible hayfever, Bronchitis,chronic exhaustion, and being unable to paint or socialise are all reallygood reasons NOT to not live in a highly phsyically and psychologicallystressful environment my catholic guilt assures me otherwise.I keep waiting to wake up and discover that I'm not living at Alpha house,or for Coco Max & richard to wake up and kick me out because they KNOW thatI'm not worthy. It's very hard to remind myself that I'm an artist, I wantto live in a commuinity. I don't smoke, I don't treat the loungeroom as apub, I clean up after myself, this is what they expect of me and we all getalong well. They don't offend me or bore me shitless and Richard gave me theFluffy flowers from Marriott Street!!!!!my phone number is 9516 3246!!!hugsmayhemps I HAVE weaned myself OFF coffee and avocado!!!!!! but the morning bath ishere to stay.


I'm frightfully sorry but this is going to be one ofthose fucking boring email travelogues......fuck I'msuffering linguistic deprivation already.I'm stillwriting snail mail postcards to those whose addressesi've got.....So picture me in one of those international lonelyplanet style backpacker meccas...could be anywhere:glebe , bondi, earl's court, Amsterdam, barcelona, therive gauche........I'm in an internet cafe, along astreet lined with cheap tour agencies, foreginexchange, cheap hotels, groovy disdplaced cafesreferring to rock songs, and long libed pale muscularyouths sporting back packs........Vive la Non lieu! do you really need the name of thecity.trips for successful travel - pick your brandf oftourist travela nd stick with it - watch the signs andsport the clobber so others identify just who youare.......Dickhead moi, fresh from a fattening french Xmas offoie gras, and with hair grown out and deep ingrainedprejudices from the St Joseph's College glen Innesguide to travelling overseas, unfortunatel allowedmyself to be led to the Potts point end of town. Bighotels, Big shops, No decent food, only americancoffee. Accented screams of "HEEELLLOOOOO" on everycorner. It sucked.Chambre nous was a strange cross between the bluedolphin at nambucca heads, with a touch of Hoc Tap andBasil Fawulty thrown in. The manager was a scary crossbetween Zhang Zhinh and Imelda Marcos - or some dodgydrag queen - or was that my old boss? Prizer bitch. Wewere paying fifty aussie bucks a ngiht and the aifcondiitoning didint' work and the room stunk ofcabbage. 3 nights prepaid on a pre tet panic. fuck.The breakfast was OK. Amazing fruit and pho with a 270degree views of the city and the river and the sunriseaccompanied by the casio Karaoke backing soundtrack.(think of Ave maria on an old nokia!!!!!)Last night I found a small hermetically sealed roomwith mega aircon and satellite TV. Watched news infrench and italian cooking shows in Italian.......Engross it was better.Highlight of yeasterday wasspoeaking french with an old couple in tha park whoweren't trying to sell us anything. lowlight wasrealising that the munich beer palace only serveddodgy thai salads with different names - but alltasting suspiciously like Newtwon Thai takeaway.Acute weird point yesterday was the "revoulutionarywomen\"; section in HCMC museum. HCMC musuem costs10000 d to visit or 13000 d to pose in wedding gear.Unforutaley we left ours in Paris. Bride everywhere inmountains of tuile imitating Proust and the virginmary (think of pale limipid saintly wilting) spereadout all over spectaular neoclassical balconies a lamode francaise. Next door we ar ein a room with a hugesocialist rEalist mural depicting sexy billboardstuyle chicks in ao dais extatically waving andleaping around a tank with a type of female cheguivara figure on the top, as nuns covwer beneath.Lnog Live the revolution eh what? other highlights ofthe fmeinist program of giai phong included displaysof cake tins used by comrade madam X, to make cakcesfor revolutionary cadres. And blouses and jumpers wornby the veritable Comrade Madam Y . this is all somescary American plot to turn me off revolition. all theway with capitalism eh?Crossing roads here is a challenge. Drivers much lesshomocidal than France, but constant barrage ofinterpolation sucks. Keep your eyes to yourself -don't llokd at anyone and shake your head. this reallysucks. I thought yesterday if anyone gesticulated atme with an air motorbioke I'd gesdticulate back with afucking air kalshnikov! hid in hotel.Drank beer, feltbetter.So : moral of the story...gues where the hell it isthat I am? I'm only speaking english, and doing a spotof shopping and it is hot. Everyone quotes to me in USdollars......More empty spaces.......I could list thesights, the sounds, provide a cutesy traveloguereminiscent of SMH travel section, but what's thepoint? Being here I realise that tourism should makeme a better consumer and a better capitalist. (onemust l;earn to barghain, one must learn to find thebest deals, the real product, the genuine food). Thisis the only cultural landscape I am inhabiting rightnow. Blinkers off. The food ain't that different towhat I seek out at home: coffee, rice, pho...........The crowds are just like lonodn tube at Xmas and theweather is similar to what i'm dreading in Sydney in afortnight anyway.......This is not unlike spain, or sydney, or BK, KL,,amsterdam etc. Same Community aid abreoad styleehtinic ware in shops in this particular cartier andpseudo upmarket shit down the road......More detailed travelogues of previous explorationswill be puclished in my forthcoming book: "Why Londonis a cheaper holdiay destination than Vietnam", andthe next chapter will hopefully include pictures ofrocks.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Presque...Mais Presque Pas

Presque Mais Presque Pas

Because my partner is French, lots of people ask me if I’ve read “Almost French” by Sarah Turnbull. I have, and so has the better half, and naturally we like it. It is the type of witty chatty heartwarming story with just the right smattering of anglophilic froggyphobia to make for knowing chuckles all round.

But part of me just wishes that the suave frog who swept her off her feet in Eastern Europe had been a woman, or if Sarah had been a male Turnbull instead of a female. Then the story would have been set in Bondi, Darlo or Tamarama and not the dreary Seizieme or the pulsing Sentier. It’s not that I’ve got anything against hetero love stories, hell no! It’s just that if I was a man, or if my partner was a man, then my story would be more like Sarah’s and the other straight friends with French lovers and less like my own.

The reason why I’m typing this in Sydney and not in France is because of homophobia. Whenever my beloved Belle Mere’s jokes about the sauvagerie of the Anglos gets a bit much I remind her of this fact. France does not recognise gay and lesbian relationships. There is “pacs”, but this counts for nothing. The immigration categories are quite simply married, divorced, widowed, or celibate. France is certainly behind its EU partners in this fact. If my better half obtained work in the UK, Germany, Netherlands or Belgium I could travel and stay as her partner, but her parents are in Paris. It would be nice if we could spend more time with them than the three months we usually spend every couple of years camping in their home, acting like overgrown adolescents. Australia, deeply reactionary in many, many things, still has a system for enabling gay and lesbian partners of Australians to settle here permanently. It is still about ten times more difficult and stressful than for heterosexual marriage, but it is possible. And after four years of joined at the hip scrutiny, my partner was granted Permanent Residency and we are now enjoying the adult freedoms of separate bank accounts and separate holidays that I thought feminists had established as a basic right before I was born.

My partner is returning to France for two months and while she is away I’m going to write and remember the past six years that have brought us to this point. This is to be the full unexpurgated version of the greatest love story in the world. The shorter version got submitted to Department for Immigration and read out at our wedding 3 years ago, but this is the whole meandering drippy bit. It’s sure to feature plenty of that quaint interculturality that everyone loves to laugh about, coz I exaggerate everything heaps. I’ll pay for it later I’m sure. I’ll write different bits as I remember and hopefully this will build into a reasonable memoir. John Howard is using homosexuals as his latest whipping boys for the next wedge politics based federal election so maybe the chances we’ve had won’t be around for much longer.

I met the love of my life in a smoky bar in the Marais six years ago. I was strolling back from a failed visit to the Pompidou and read a sign “club privee pour les femmes”. It was my first visit to France and I was still amazed that French was actually separate language to Spanish and how little I understood. Anyway I wandered in, sat down with a beer and looked around. I’m not used to going into dyke bars, and was much less comfortable when I was younger and had long dreadlocks. I saw a table of “jolly English lavender ladies” and feeling too self conscious to join in started writing in my notebook.

Lots of people keep travel diaries but I reckon mine must be the most boring ever. Writing for me is kind of like doodling for other people. When I’m nervous, I sit and write streams of consciousness into notebooks. I’m often nervous when I travel so I write lots. Kind of like “I am sitting here writing this with a blue pen that I bought for 2 francs at franprix on the corner of rue blah and rue blah blah. I also bought a baguette, and a banana and a lion bar. In all I spent a total of 12 francs. This beer that I am drinking cost 35 francs, and I had a coffee this morning for 10 francs and I bought a demi pain for 8 francs so today I spent 75 francs and I can spend 25 francs more and I’ll have to get a demi verre of beer if I buy another one and finish my baguette for dinner, because 100 francs is my daily total and that is $25.00 and I’m already spending 100 francs a night at the hotel. Right now in the pub people are playing pool around me and there are 4 women at a bar and three women at a table behind me and a small dog in front of me. The signs on the wall say blah blah….” You get the picture. It’s kind of like the internal monologue of rain man. Riveting stuff. This is why I’ve been so reluctant to keep a blog. My diaries are Painfully boring. I seem to need an audience (even imaginary) to generate a narrative.

Anyway I was scribbling away, and even mentioned the approach of the one who changed my life forever. She thought I was drawing her, and wanted to sneak a peek. I think I did do a couple of scribbly sketches of dykey bums bending over the pool table. One must have been hers, but I think I noticed her tits first. No-one ever told me at school that if you look at women’s bodies involuntarily and not men’s that you are probably a lesbian. I guess St. Josephite nuns have rules against passing on that sort of vital information, and actually I wasn’t looking at anyone with sexual interest while I was at school so if wouldn’t have helped me anyway. Adolescent sex was for me a bloody nightmare. It was for most people I knew except for one girl in my class. She had a steady boyfriend from year six, and did lots of flirting on the side. She left school after year ten and I think they got married soon after. When her kids hit highschool she broke out of her childbride confines and ran off with her brother in law. It was a town scandal, poor thing. By comparison I’ve got nothing to complain about. Needless to say I wasn’t gay, I wasn’t anything. Just really sexually frustrated. Come adolescence I fled to the city and broke out and had a fair amount of luck and quite a few mishaps with men. It didn’t take long for me to realise that I was attracted to women as well. It took a hell of a long time for me to actually sleep with one. This was due far more to my own social ineptitude than lack of courage. I did try, but I failed. No-one ever says that in coming out sessions or advice columns. They speak about courage, and integrity and conquering internalised homophobia and being true to yourself and your desires. No-one ever says that picking up chicks is REALLY REALLY hard. I reckon that’s why lesbian couples stay together for so long. I also reckon I’ve got no time for straight girlies whingeing about how hard it is to pick up men. Take a walk in my blundstones baby, guys are easy. When I finally dragged some winsome wench into the sack, my early fumbling efforts weren’t much to write home about, unless my family were some uber-rich freaky Christians prepared to fork out mega bucks if I could let myself be cured of my deviance. No-one ever says that either. Gay sex is meant to be the best ever. Well, often it’s not. Like travels with a sausage, life in salmon land can have its ups and downs as well as its ins and outs. Anyway by my mid twenties, I’d done straight, I’d done dyke, I’d done mardis gras. I was pretty much into the polymorphous perversity mantra of the late 90’s. Hell I wasn’t turning anything down. Let me think about it. Nope. Nothing!

So I guess the above explains the nervousness. I knew that real lesbians would know I wasn’t one of them and would steer clear. So I concentrated on my imperative of cultural tourism and scrawled away. When I found myself being chatted to by a small shaved headed thickly French accented baby dyke I was bemused. When she offered to buy me a beer I was grateful. When she said she was doing her PhD in Lesbian literature, I raved about Jeanette Winterson, and when she said she couldn’t play “err, ziss sing err, we err, call le Boillards” I took it to mean she couldn’t play pool, and I knew right then that something absolutely unique was happening to me. A dyke in a dyke bar was admitting that she could not pay pool. Suddenly I knew why I was in Paris. This would never happen in Sydney. Paris! The intellectual haven, where even baby dykes talk about Virginia Woolf and admit they can’t play pool. About then I remember some trashy Madonna song “holiday” coming over the sound system and then she sidled up to me and we started kissing. Oh sigh! Oh soft mouth and musky scent! Oh! small rounded limbs and fierce fondlings! Oh! Snogging on that Harley Davidson outside! Oh Sapphic bliss!!!

Even though my 100 franc a night hotel was around the corner, my directions got muddled and we wandered off into a balmy summer evening with Anna giving me a guided tour of Marais and Les Halles, and Le Pont Neuf (I think). Then it was 2am and I realised that I was locked out of my hotel. So we ended up catching a cab, with some guy who called her Monsieur as we snogged in the back, and I got my first glimpse of the Arch de Triomphe. We alighted somewhere near the Champs Elysee (which means elysian fields and looks nothing like a Poussin painting) and got in her car and she drove me to a suburb which I tried to compare with Sydney but I couldn’t. It was full of weird 50’s high concrete bungalows, a bit like a film version of Ionesco’s “rhinoceros” that I saw on TV once. And there we spent the night, on a foldout bed in the loungeroom. Anna said her Dad was home upstairs and she didn’t want to disturb him, and we had to leave first thing in the morning before he got up. I had visions of that scene in “trainspotting” and somehow convinced myself that maybe she was seventeen.

After we shared a coffee and parted I was kind of nonplussed. I was glad, but not overwhelmed and I was more concerned that lack of sleep and a mild hangover was going to ruin my appreciation of museums. It did, and I vowed not to call her that night, but then at dinner, decided to call her and schedule another meeting the following night, once I’d had some sleep. When we met again something magical happened and suddenly I didn’t give a shit about the museums. I remember her dropping me off at the Louvre, where I allowed myself three hours to wander in one of those shagged narcotic hazes through endless marble halls of American tourists and ancient sculptures. I ran into one of my friends from art school and blabbed crazy euphoric squeals as his face turned green and puckered with jealousy in front of me. Luckily some valley girls and a gay boy turned up and joined in the conversation and echoed my coos and sighs. Yeah. The Louvre.

So this magical affair went for four days, and I had connecting flights from London and art school back in Sydney. So I couldn’t delay my return. We parted over really crap coffee after Gare du Nord, which I was convinced was just like the Monet painting (Of Gare St. Lazare). We’d found a whole crate of madeleines the night before which we were giving to gypsies and with which I intended to survive my last 48 hours in Europe.
It gave the whole farewell a kind of gritty postmodern Proustian air. I cried at leaving her. She tried to make me laugh. We both promised to write to each other and I actually wrote something less than excruciatingly banal in my travel diary.

What I found out years later was that while I was convinced I had met the love of my life (how do you know? You just know!) and was torturing myself with the thought that we’d never see each other again, she was feeling chuffed at scoring a summer fling and looking forward to the next lay! She didn’t believe that I would write to her, I couldn’t bear not to. Every word, every thought, every sensation I was living with her, imagining telling her, wondering what she would thing or say or do. A wiser cynic would dismiss it all as silly infatuation, but I really believe that there are certain experiences where we are challenged to follow our hearts and find ourselves. Falling in love with Anna gave me this chance. Sexuality was no longer a matter of an intellectual construct or a social ploy or quick libido fix, something profoundly deep within me was involved this time. I remember the first time I had sex with a man when I returned to Sydney, and I burst into tears. The sex wasn’t particularly crap or distressing, just a paler shade of beige after living in dayglo. I cried at the thought of never touching her again, never smelling her, never feeling this way about anyone ever again and being able to share it. After the initial disappointment casual sex resumed its normalcy as a fun social activity, a bit of a transgressive release and whatnot but I knew that with Anna I had found something absolutely precious. So I wrote, and she wrote back, and we kept writing each week and the letters got longer and longer and crazier and crazier and then she announced that she was buying a ticket and coming to visit me! A dream come true!

To be continued next time.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

get a real job

Lately I've been reading stuff about "national standards" for artists fees, and I even got an email (from my boss! hah!) about "an artists protest" - some sort of sit in at the MCA to demand worthy payment for our creative efforts on non commerical exhibitions and projects. what do they mean by artists protest? Every frigging day is a bloody protest if you are an artist!

Anyway the fees for artists is a great idea and obviously necessary and worthy etc. but I suspect it shares a problem fundamental to all arts funding ..... which is big.

During my time in the garret I became increasingly fed up with the refractory nature of "managed" arts funding structures. Community arts in particular really started to get up my nose.

Essentially community based and community managed arts projects are usually funded through an organization, which ostensibly acts to assemble and promote artists. Actually what they are doing is replicating the gallery representative structure, whereby a professional (or non professional) acts to select and filter (and sometimes appropriate) new undiscovered artists. So really most "new arts" projects are usually just new curatorial projects; alternative spaces designed to select, exhibitor promote artists but not actually help produce the work itself.

Ultimately this means that most arts funding is directed towards umbrella organisations, or curatorial projects and the nature of applying for funding itself is administratively heavy and favours creative efforts that replicate and reinforce the administrative and managerial cultures rather than actually assist or promote artists or the making of new art work.

given this administrative bias of arts funding, I am fearful that any "fee for artists" protocol would inevitably ensconce itself in labyrinthic merit based criteria, which would once again favour those artists with extensive administrative skills, or those supported by galleries or organisations with those skills and networks. (a bit like Oz Council fellowship grants) this would rally make the scheme redundant, because it would really only assist those practitioners and exhibitors who are already established or partly established or at least reasonably successful in negotiating some sort of institutional support.

Essentially if funding practitioners is tied in with a type of merit base selection, then it will inevitably be problematic. the exciting thing about art, and new art is its unregulated nature, and its link to a type of productive and reactive use of leisure time. What differs hobbyists form serious practitioners is really only a fairly shallow margin of self perception and luck (plus a fair amount of gender politics) , and I don't think that maintaining that distinction necessarily leads to either interesting art or better conditions for emerging practitioners.

What I would suggest is that we should look at the contracting levels of leisure time and increasing surveillance for welfare recipients. Producing art would be a hell of a lot easier if more people had access to affordable housing and studio rental, decent public transport, reasonable commercial rental (for exhibition spaces and performance venues) decent conditions for casual and part time employment and a guarantee of minimum revenue assistance (i.e. a dole) without being coerced or being forced to dissimulate insertion into full time work in other industries.

Even then I have a problem with aligning issues of artists with welfare issues, because my experience is that community arts projects are largely structured according to welfare 'management' models. Within such models, Artists are treated as "clients" that need to be managed and regulated and indulged, instead of the skilled and dedicated un(der)paid cultural workers that we are. Has anyone read "the good friend" by Oscar Wilde? I idenitified with the flower picking field mouse, and I'll let you guess who the other characters were. As a result I am intensely suspcious of ANYONE who says they want to "help" artists. How many people are in really well paid jobs as mangers, lobbyists curators etc, compred to the amount of artists, slumming it in part time work, or centrelink?