We find ourselves in quite a fix. By the end of 2006, the earth has gone to hell, imperialism lives on, the distribution of wealth and goods would be absurd if it weren’t so unfunny, Western consumer culture has actually taken over the world, Americans don’t respect their elders, the population will be X by X, and so on, and so on, and so on. I’ve been trying to make art at the same time as all the rhetoric and real problems, and I’m finding that “the political” is increasingly demanding a place in my “practice.” Fix is an attempt to figure out what these terms mean and how they might apply to my real life.
Disgusted and alarmed by the proximity of unlimited shopping and unlimited garbage in Manhattan, as well as the disposable mentality I live and work in – “just throw it out and get a new one” – I’ve decided to make a little experiment in non-consumption. Let’s be clear: I’m not trying to jump off the grid and build my own self-sustaining compound. While admirable, I’m not sure it’s possible in New York City or particularly relevant to my life at this point. Now, I already live a pretty marginal existence as far as materiality is concerned: my economic reality – independent artist, subsistence day-job -- ensures that I buy very little. I’d like to see what happens if I make the commitment to reducing my participation in the buying cycle to zero this year.
Of course I’ll fail. I want to see by how much, and in what terms, while challenging my own notions of “need” and demanding more creativity of myself. Marx says that modern capitalist production makes invisible the connections that bind us to one another; I’d like to render visible some of these ties in my own world. I want to learn how to fix clothes, proper meals, broken things – and learn from some master practitioners like my grandparents, other artists, and complete strangers. I’ll be documenting my efforts on this website, and I hope you’ll contribute your ideas, suggestions, and skills to the effort.
This is an experiment designed to start conversations and illustrate how one choice impacts one life. There’s a whole group of people who call themselves “The Compact” and made the commitment to not buying anything in 2006 (and 2007), and I owe particular inspiration to Judith Levine’s book Not Buying It and Alex Martin’s Little Brown Dress project. Please spend some time in the reading list and links sections.