December marks the exhibition of my next public art work as part of a themed exhibition at the local gallery titled ‘Turning Point’. Turning Point is deliciously open to interpretation. Maybe your imagination begins considering a change of direction, then a change of season, a rite of passage, a traumatic event, a particular moment in time. Let your mind wander for a few moments and consider the possibilities.
I will be creating a work drawing upon my journey towards achieving this quest to improve child survival. My first submission to the curator was challenged with some great questions, and I have refined where and what the Turning Point means for me.
The work will be titled ‘The Next Step’, and points to 100 moments in my journey to date, any of which could be ‘the turning point’. The point of the work is that none of those moments, or neither the complete whole story told through this narrative of the 100 photos, is of itself the Turning Point. The Turning Point remains an elusive moment represented by the realisation of the collaborative effort necessary for this task of addressing how we might use our networks to deliver on the promise to improve child survival to be addressed. The Turning Point won’t be the completion of the journey. Far from it. The Turning Point will be the beginning of a new chapter in this journey, and only made possible by my efforts that were often inadequate at best in the past.
The work points to the hope that comes about from action, an action that is arrived at by being unreasonable in an ambition for change, and change that can only occur with radical collaboration with others. To achieve this Turning Point, it is necessary for us to take The Next Step, together.
Let me just explain how these 100 photos will be presented, because it is important to understanding a nuance in this work. They will form a 10 x 10 matrix in which the photos are close together, but not joined. Each moment is separate from the others, but at the same time part of a bigger journey. If a picture tells a thousand words, then this will speak volumes.
As I create the idea of work in my mind, I am becoming aware that somehow this gridded matrix of 100 photos will be bookended either side by two discrete grids, both also containing 100 tiles across the same 10 x 10 matrix. Every tile or photo will be the same dimension: 10 cm x 10 cm, and the two bookended grids will be empty containing no photos at the beginning of this work.
Throughout the duration of the exhibition, these two adjacent grids will slowly take form. Photos will be added to each of the 100 tiles in each, ending up with three grids each containing 100 photos. 300 photos in all.
One of these adjacent grids will take the form of the 100 Champions of Change that I am seeking from the broader global community. People can nominate themselves, or even share the invitation to their networks. This is not just assembling a list of monitors to help with a project, but is an exercise that is rich with possibility. Who would we, from our small corner in Auburn of this expansive global community, like to see represented in this collective of Champions of Change? Is the request even too ambitious itself?
Seeking this participation of 100 Champions of Change to be assembled during the life of this art work draws upon another favourite quote from the Brazilian philosopher Roberto Unger who I referred to in my post yesterday titled “Hope Is The Consequence Of Action” . “To establish a transformative imagination at the centre of our understanding of society” is the task which Unger speaks boldly about. This art work is not just about my efforts and perspective during this project, but it demands the participation of others to be complete. That is risky. That is reality.
The other grid of 100 tiles will also begin absent of photos, and during the life of the exhibition will come to represent the 100 photos of human bridges that will comprise the photo essay to be featured in the book Life Bridge that is central to the completion of the 10 City Bridge Run. This will also be a co-created process, inviting people to contribute, and encouraging people to help assemble a wondrous deck of photos to tell this story of a human bridge drawn from people across the globe. Will we settle for less, or will we seek to attract an awesome collection of 100 photos of human bridges that will defy what the imagination at present even believes is possible?
It is the beginning of a conversation. It is both a statement and an invitation to collaborate.
A good mate today reminded me of the book ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell. Our friendship goes back literally decades. It was with two of our classmates from school that the kernel of this epic quest began. The journey has taken a completely different direction from the discussion of that evening, but it does go to further illustrate where we identify a Turning Point. Phil’s point is a good one, and I think that the Turning Point and the Tipping Point for this epic quest will be reached at the same time.
My friend Fay spoke at a recent breakfast about a friend attempting the impossible: climbing to the Everest Base Camp, with the added challenge of blindness.
Here is what she wrote as an update- a good news story!
For those who might recall my response to what impossible thing we were going to tackle today (at a recent breakfast) when I nominated a colleague’s efforts to reach Everest Base Camp, I’m pleased to report that he reached it – good work for any 47 year-old father of two, but simply amazing for a man who lost his sight in an accident at age seven. Anyone who has trekked in the Himalayas knows the effort involved – unimaginable to do it blind. But he imagined it, and did it.
While I was trekking the Routeburn, in New Zealand, I met an 82 year-old woman who had trekked thousands of kilometres, and she didn’t start until she retired at 60. When I asked her secret, she said ‘You just put one foot in front of the other’. Indeed.
In this fast-forward, instant-gratification society we can lose sight of the power of putting one foot in front of the other and the imagination to challenge yourself to do things which seem impossible because they will require huge amounts of effort and trust and assistance.
We all need to get over ourselves and our fears of failure and just attempt more – sometimes we succeed. And if we don’t, so what, in the scheme of things we are not important and most people are too focussed on their own inadequacies to take much notice of their neighbour’s.
So what are you going to tackle today that is impossible?