EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST SOUGHT
FROM: ARTISTS AND OTHER PARTNERS
FOR: THE TRANSITIONAL ECONOMIC ZONE OF AOTEAROA (TEZA)
as part of ISEA, the 18th International Symposium of Electronic Art
Santa Fe, New Mexico September 19-October 20, 2012
With the US empire on its knees, now is the time for the rat to chew at the guy ropes of North American hegemony.
We are inviting artists, scientists and commercial partners to contribute to the Transitional Economic Zone of Aotearoa (TEZA). Please send initial concepts for the TEZA or any questions by November 10 to email@example.com
Sophie Jerram and Mark Amery
Letting Space, Wellington New Zealand October 2011
Since the 1980s, throughout Africa, India, South East and Central Asia, economic activity has been generated by governments through the establishment of Free Trade Zones, Export Processing Zones, and Temporary Zones (all broadly called Special Economic Zones). Usually these zones are managed by the host country to expedite entry by companies from resource hungry and cash rich countries (eg China, Taiwan, Israel). Conducting business in a SEZ usually means that a company will receive tax incentives and the opportunity to pay lower tariffs. Sometimes these zones are also exempt from local environmental and human rights obligations.
For ISEA 2012, The Transitional Economic Zone of Aotearoa, bounded by questionable territorial lines, is around 8000 square metres (three acres) of an area of the desert near Santa Fe. New Zealanders are highly experienced at making camp and, much like a tent city found in war zones or refugee camps, the TEZA is quick to assemble and has a makeshift, transitory feel to it. We may employ the assistance of the NZ army or an army of temporary workers from New Zealand companies in the region to construct the site. The kiwi ‘can do’ attitude and recent opening of sea beds to oil prospecting shows that a small nation in the South Pacific might also become a fast moving, exploitative and hungry predator. Marketing of the TEZA via digital and mainstream media channels however will indicate that this Special Economic Zone is very different from the SEZs of Zambia or Myanmar.
The TEZA is, at first approach and by most appearances, another SEZ managed for economic gain through the resources that are assumed to be trapped under the soil. The apparent narrative may be that with New Zealand’s interest in photo voltaics (leading to solar power) but lack of silicon, silica is the resource presumed to feed the TEZA ‘power base’ (what appears to be a private/public syndicate of iwi, corporate and government interests).
However, upon exploration, visitors to TEZA discover a far more generous world: one interested in the sustainable exchange of ideas and resources for the betterment of the planet, rather than one which is hungry and exploitative. From a distance TEZA may call to mind all the negative connotations of contemporary refugee detention centres or zones of resource extraction run by major corporates. Yet on encounter it will prove equally to be reminiscent of the village feel of major festivals. However, rather than the principal goal of these festival businesses to provide entertainment, TEZA will push their community models to the fore in inviting artists and scientists to work for the benefit of all participants and the local community, within which it is a temporary resident.
On approach the TEZA visually resembles a POW camp, bordered by flags, signs and temporary structures. Whilst welcoming most applicants, like any territory there are border controls and bureacractic procedures all immigrants to The TEZA need to undergo. The entry point will involve other forms of welcome.
Our hosts: friendly strong young men and women dressed in highlighter jackets and hard hats, greeting visitors with a big ‘kia ora’ – and welcomed with dignity.
Inside the fence visitors are able to explore a range of areas of ‘the Zone’ e.g. a learning zone, an entertainment stage, activity areas, a meditative space, and working groups looking at purifying water or sorting sand. This is a happy village.
Part of the exciting tension about developing the project is the enquiry into land rights, occupation, and indigenous peoples and the way cultural protocol will operate.
The principles of TEZA:
- We intend to leave New Mexico having contributed more than we have taken - whether through exchange between Aotearoa peoples and first nations people in the area, through the gift of New Zealand flora, the gift of intellectual property, or other social relationships. Positive impact on communities in New Mexico is integral to the project.
- The TEZA is a society driven by matriarchal values, teaching respect for the land and responding to what we have learnt from it.
- Whilst utopian at one level, the TEZA genuinely seeks to join the local knowledge from the Santa Fe region with knowledge from Aotearoa. The experience in Aotearoa of establishing relationships of reciprocity, and the lessons learnt from the repression/denial of people’s sovereignity, will be brought to the zone and the land, alongside a spirit of generosity and fun.
Artistic, scientific, cultural and traditional knowledge solutions are sought in the following physical areas for the TEZA
A supplier of extensive solar Photo Voltaics is being sought for powering the motors of the site. Work that explores sustainability R&D is also sought.
Expressions of interest from artists and scientists (or artists and scientists in collaboration) to present artwork, experiments or technology that further the aims of the TEZA are now being sought.
Visas - working and visitor visas will be required
Security machines for ‘roving’ the perimeter fence and airspace.
Procedures and ceremony for first approaches, and then social encounters will be needed.
Expressions of interest in contributions to the boundary and physical set-up of TEZA are welcomed.
Music, games and activities will play an important part in establishing relationships.
Digital and physical games and activities which reward and enhance co-operative principles are sought.
Musical and other performing arts are also sought.
A meditation and interfaith zone will be erected inside one of the tents.
Plans for digital Maori po whenua are already in place in eight key points around the boundary
Maori cosmological talks relating to astronomical viewing will also be provided.
Other expressions are now welcomed.
A canteen environment is required - a group of people to run this and projects around food and ritual and hospitality are welcome.
Buses from Santa Fe or elsewhere will come and visit at prescribed limited times when TEZA can be fully operational.
Ideas involving methods of induction into the site during transport are welcomed.
Documentation and public relations:
We welcome digital electronic contributions possible from NZ and elsewhere to the TEZAs web presence which, depending on contributions, could be a very significant aspect of this project.
Knowledge and partnership:
Partnership with NZ government departments, and private providers happy to acknowledge TEZA principles are sought in conjunction with this project.
At present all artists and scientists will need to find funding and accommodation for participation in TEZA. Residencies may be available for some of our workers at Santa Fe and Alburqueque institutions.
Sophie Jerram, on behalf of Letting Space
(Sophie Jerram and Mark Amery), in conjunction with Te Urutahi Waikerepuru from Taranaki and James Charlton at AUT
Please send initial concepts for the TEZA or any questions by November 10 to firstname.lastname@example.org
Further background comment from Mark Amery and Sophie Jerram
Globalisation has seen the way Aotearoa New Zealand operates internationally change radically in recent years – culturally, politically, economically. From Fonterra in China to giant rugby balls in Paris to refugee detention centres in the Pacific to pianos in Venice, the way we operate territorially in terms of interaction, marketing, and distribution with other partners and likeminded communities has been transformed and is full of tensions. Likewise the way government and iwi operate territorially in public/private partnerships has seen shifts in the way we exercise our values and utilise ours and others resources.
Welcome to an art project that takes New Zealand creativity and an ability to collaborate in developing cultural and scientific exchange to a new conceptual level. Testing out charged issues of sovereignty and intellectual property internationally, the TEZA stakes out our own territory and branded zone in the rich New Mexican desert.
From Sophie Jerram:
I have long been interested in our attempts at creating difference and managing boundaries. I see this work as a curatorial extension of my practice in this area, which first began with Tawharanui Open Sanctuary in 2010. For this summer residency I made a short animated film and installation called the Mud People of Tawharanui which dealt with the attempts to define cultural and physical zones and maintain them.
The following from the Santa Fe residency application for ISEA 2011 is also highly relevant:
“When an object or system stops performing its assigned function in contemporary society, we tend to replace it rather than repair it. However, artists redefine useless as useful by creating a new life for objects, and that renewed life alters the role of these objects entirely. Artists work similar magic with degraded landscapes, blighted neighborhoods and other systems, infusing them with new purpose and expanding the potential for positive change.”