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Archive - 09 2014

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30 September 2014

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Burn; Immerse; Demolish. Or simply walk away.

To celebrate the launch of our Kickstarter campaign for new project, 'Temple', our Development Intern Hannah gives us an insight into other ephemeral creations from around the world...

Temporary temples. Transient creations intended to inspire, fascinate and challenge; but not to endure. One of the most intriguing aspects of David Best’s temples is their impermanence. Temple is a project constructed with the community and transformed by the offerings of those who visit. Its final gift is a public spectacle, a shared moment of wonder and reflection as the temple burns to nothing; and this cathartic moment is reflected across the world in the collective creation, and destruction, of places of meaning.

The Hindu festival Durga Puja is an annual celebration of the victory of the goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura as the epitome of Good defeating Evil. The construction of temporary places of worship is a tradition integral to the festival, and in the state of West Bengal everyday life is put on hold while in any available space – playgrounds, parks and street corners – pandals are created; temporary temples made of bamboo and cloth, created to house highly decorated life-sized idols of the goddess. These elaborate makeshift constructions, often created by communities, are free to visitors and attract both the ‘pandal hopping’ young, who gather to talk and eat, and crowds offering morning flower worship. In Kolkata, art and architecture students design themed pujas: immensely popular constructions with themes from Ancient Egypt to Harry Potter that compete to outdo each other in complexity and imagination. After six days of mantras, ritual drumming and dancing the idols are taken in procession to the river and immersed, symbolising the departure of the deity to her home in the Himalayas.

A world away, a wholly different creation: Paris Tour 13:

In a hugely popular public art project in October 2013, one hundred street artists took over a nine-storey social housing tower in Paris - thirty days before its demolition - and transformed it into a temporary temple of urban art. This massive collective exhibition, inspired by gallery director Mehdi Ben Cheikh and supported by the local council, brought 30,000 visitors to a derelict bright-orange residential block containing thirty-six apartments temporarily dedicated to the art of the streets. With aerosol, markers and sculptural elements working with the decay of the building, artists of sixteen nationalities created a non-commercial, one-time-only installation; encouraging a reconsideration of public space and the urban landscape. A month later, the building was reduced to rubble and pictures of the art appeared online for 10 days only: an ephemeral project showcasing a genre transitory by nature:

Even more transitory, perhaps, is the work of bodypainter Trina Merry (pictured above). In April 2014, using nothing but paint and ingenuity, Merry created a living temple from seventeen naked circus performers and dancers in Human Temple, a live installation at WORKS San Jose Gallery. The work’s central golden woman represents ‘the healed and loved women in Nepal’, raising awareness for ‘Beyond the Four Walls’; a social business venture seeking to empower Nepalese women. Merry was inspired by ancient uses of body paint to aid cultural healing and its implications for contemporary art, reveling in the transformative properties of a medium which changes and develops from the moment of application. It is the power of the temporary that informs these temples, their inevitable destruction. In Ireland, Temple will burn; in India, festivities end with symbolic immersion; in Paris, art is demolished by the bulldozer. And the finale of Human Temple? Its participants simply walk away.

Find out more and donate to our Kickstarter campaign for 'Temple'.

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16 September 2014

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You get what you give

Our Development Co-ordinator Soraia (pictured) recently completed her MA in Culture Policy and Management with a particular focus on crowdfunding.  Ahead of Artichoke launching their own Kickstarter campaign, here's what she learnt...

Digital technologies have radically changed the way we produce, consume and fund art.

I’ve spent the last year thinking about this subject when researching and writing my dissertation to complete a Masters in Culture Policy & Management. Working in Fundraising, I decided to investigate one of the latest trends in financing models for cultural projects: crowdfunding.

Although there are several crowdfunding platforms available to finance creative projects, cultural institutions in the UK are still taking their first steps in using this tool. Because it is still relatively new, the majority of articles related to crowdfunding try to explore what the triggers of successful campaigns are: is it the rewards?  The strong presence on social media? The popularity of the organisation?

As interesting as these questions may be, I decided to focus my research on what I believe matters the most in crowdfunding: the people.

Crowdfunding is not all about the money. It’s about the people that converge around an idea, a product, and a project. It’s about the connections that are established between investors and the organisation that creates the project. It’s about inspiring people in taking part in an idea bigger than themselves. 

With this in mind, I decided to investigate the connections that take place between arts organisations that engage in Kickstarter campaigns and their donors. I wanted to know their follow-up conversations, if organisations embrace these new donors on their future journey.

The results of my research were quite diverse, but one thing became clear: in a crowdfunding campaign, like in life in general, you get what you give. If you ask only for financial donations, that is what people will think is their deepest level of involvement. But if you ask for more – sharing the campaign on social media, advocating for the cause, volunteering – the person’s sense of impact will grow exponentially. And, by placing people as the core asset of crowdfunding, you may actually increase your chances of obtaining further gifts in the future.

I’d like to end this post with a quote that inspired me when I was exploring this topic:

‘I wonder whether at times we’re in danger of trying to make giving so easy that we get a gift but not a relationship. How many people made a text donation just because it was the easiest way to end the conversation? Would they, like me, end up feeling slightly resentful of being treated like a cash machine and never engaged any further with the charity?  Rather than talking about technology and giving, perhaps we should instead be asking how we can use technology for relationship building that leads people to become donors? What if instead of street fundraisers we had street relationship makers? Technology can certainly make things simple. But perhaps being too simple isn’t always a good thing.’

Report: More than shaking an online tin, Spring Giving, London

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