What debts do you owe? How does this affect how you feel about yourself?
What does the world owe you? What do you owe the world?
The world is awash in debt, both on a national and personal basis. Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy are in danger of defaulting on their national debt. The US has a record deficit, part of which was borrowed to finance recovery measures. Many of my friends and family members are facing financial strain, unemployment, foreclosure. I am feeling the pinch, myself.
There is so much shame associated with financial crisis. People would rather talk about their emotional or intimate relationships than their liquidity. Everyone is trying to keep up appearances. I think we suffer from an ec0nomy that is fueled by over-consumption, so we are caught in the bind of wanting to cut back on our spending, despite enormous social pressure and aggressive advertising which encourages us to spend more than we can afford.
As an artist, I am interested in the personal and cultural affect of all this debt and shame. I have faith that creativity and a positive attitude will help us dig out of the hole we’re in. I think we need to take an honest look at the behaviors that landed us in debt, at the level of the individual as well as the financial and corporate structures that drive us towards insolvency and waste. Just as we need to replace the gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine as our means of transportation, we need to replace the wasteful over-consumption of goods as the driving force of our economy. We need to think green.
Tonight, at the Chicago Fringe Artists Networking Night, I will launch my Owing Project. I will ask people to enter my “Confession Booth” and inscribe answers to the questions at the top of this post. I will paint a live mural of their faces and include their words, as I ask them questions about owing. I understand that, at an arty party, these questions are sort of a buzzkill, and may provoke a hostile response or an unwillingness to engage. That is the risk I take.
I will collect the responses to my questions at CFANN, and they will become part of an installation exhibition at ARC Gallery this summer, opening reception July 23.
I invite you to weigh in with answers to my questions here.