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Joy is a choice

Webzine #1 JOYFUL
Article #1

I’m really worried about the environment. It keeps me up at night. I think about what I can do, but sometimes I think it’s already too late.

But I’m here now, so I might as well do something, right? I work as a socially engaged artist. This means I collaborate with people and together we explore complex social issues.  I work with a range of partners (artistic, charities, academics), and participants with lived experience, using art to give voice from the margins (men on probation, care workers, young people excluded from mainstream education) to effect social change.

To be frankly honest, it’s not a fun environment. It tends to be under-resourced, struggling from years of structural inequality, precarity and not very glamorous. Fun is a secondary consideration.

I stay working in the margins because I feel better  - when I connect with other humans - that connection reminds me that life has meaning and value and pleasure. This pleasurable feeling of connection extends to animals & plants as well as humans. It’s sort of addictive, this feeling, and I work really hard to experience, maintain and grow this connection.

We live in a society that favours men, power, money, exploitation, extraction, consumption and I fear we are heading towards extinction. This is not the world I want to live in - and it’s too big a problem to address individually.

So I’m looking for people to partner with me and build a better place. In trying to do this, I find it’s easier to bring people over to your side if they come willingly. Warmth, fun, joy, play, games - these are all open creative and imaginative spaces to dream big.

I tactically employ games and play to create friendly entrances when exploring serious subject matters, enveloping the participants in a ‘magic circle’ to temporarily suspend and imagine alternative realities. My interest in lowering the barrier to engagement has led me to deploy ‘found formats’ as frameworks to bring audiences into art experiences without relying on their awareness or comfort with the rules of engagement of museums, galleries, theatres.

Above all, I want to take the grounded position I’ve gained during the pandemic to reorient my values to kindness, care and above all else - time and space to breathe. I’m trying to fully accept the complexities and messiness of human nature and to put into practice the hard earned knowledge that slowing down means things get done faster in the long run.

If the end of the world is coming, I’d like to go out laughing. That sounds like more fun.

​즐거운 곤란

Joyful Trouble

생명다양성을 위한 게임 페스티벌

즐거운 곤란(Joyful Trouble)은 2023년 한국문화예술위원회 공공예술사업 선정 프로젝트로 우리가 마주한 기후위기의 곤란함 안에서 즐겁게 함께하는 방법을 찾는 공공예술 프로젝트입니다. 도시의 생명다양성을 큰 주제를 다양한 분야의 사람들과 함께 묻고, 움직이고, 상상하며 ‘보드게임’과 ‘놀이’라는 즐거움으로 풀어냅니다. 놀이와 게임은 접근성이 높은 문화적 산물로 기후위기의 곤란함을 해결하며 더 많은 사람들과 함께 할 수 있는 고리가 됩니다.

Joyful Trouble is a Arts Council Korea funded public art project exploring how to stay with the troubles of the climate crisis through collective joy. Examining the biodiversity in the city we live in, we collaborated with people from many fields to ask, move, dream how to thrive together by playing games. Play and games are highly accessible cultural activity that creates a magic circle to interrogate collective solutions to the climate emergency with a broad range of people.

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