Bowie is dead.
He meant, and means, different things to different people. He was an inspirational artist to me, who changed, created and explored. Rather than remain sad, I will continue to be inspired by him and dare to do, to create and to challenge myself not to become creatively comfortable or stagnant.
Recently the very talented Sarah Blasko did a great version of 'Life on mars' on Triple J's like a version:
I loved 'The next day', Bowie's, album released in 2013. Based on the few samples/snippets I had heard of his most recent album 'Blackstar', I was prepared to dislike it, but instead loved it.
If you haven't seen the clip to Bowie's track 'Lazarus' of his last lp 'Blackstar', here it is:
“It is not you, but the others...” is a phrase I seem to
hear more and more. Whenever I ask these people to define these 'others' and
what percentage of the population (or of a 'group' of people),they are referring to, they don't seem to be
able to do so.
I ask - do they make up fifty percent or more? 'No' is the
response. When asked if the number is more like five percent, they reply
'MORE!'. When I push for a figure or even to give me examples....they can't.
Sometimes they act sheepish, sometimes they mumble 'Someone told me about some
people they knew', or “I read something in the paper” (or saw it on TV). The
reality is that no actual examples can be given when pressed, or if you are
very lucky, perhaps an example can
be found. Yet the 'zero', or the 'one' example, seem to make up more than five
percent, but less than fifty percent of a whole group of people...which often
leaves me baffled.
Which groups are these sweeping generalisations being made
about? You name a marginalised group of people and you will hear some variation
of the diatribe being delivered. The unemployed are deemed 'dole bludgers',
Muslims are deemed terrorists and the poor are generally thought of as lazy or
lacking the motivation to succeed. For those sprouting the diatribe, they are
never referring to those people they personally know who are part of the
'group', but are talking about the 'others'.
Where do these false and misguided beliefs come from and
why do they exist? Who benefits from them? When did we stop being critical
thinkers? Let us look at one group- the unemployed. The thought that seems to
pervade society, that unemployed people are as a group, all lazy and
'bludgers', is unproven. In any group of people, there are likely to be
'outliers' and in the case of the unemployed, this may mean (in a very
simplified way), a person who has the capacity and ability to work, but doesn't
want to. In my experience working with the unemployed, I hadn't come across
anyone who was like this. I did however, come across people who couldn't work
or find work, for a variety of reasons.
I worked with people who applied for job after job after
job, but were not successful in obtaining an interview.Sometimes it was as simple as their age, lack
of experience, and believe it or not, their over-experience in a role. I worked
with people who were successful in getting a job but wouldn't last long due to
complex issues, such as an inability to contain their emotions, which lead to
physical or verbal fighting at work (for some of these clients, who's
backgrounds I knew of, attachment theory made perfect sense). There are those
whose prior substance or alcohol use, damaged their ability to learn new
things/retain new information. There were those who had very low self esteem
and didn't present well to employers. There were those who had low level
anxiety and/or depression and had not sought clinical diagnosis or help. Add to
these examples the unemployment rate and the chances of gaining employment
naturally reduce in a competitive market.
Yet, despite the complexity of why people are unemployed
(aside from the obvious reason that there are no jobs for them), we as a
society, largely seem to cling to the view that the unemployed are 'dole
bludgers' or lazy, of course not you, you are different, it's the others...
How healthy is holding this view and what impact does it
have on the unemployed? Does it steer the conversation on unemployment away
from the real reasons/issues and how they can be addressed? Maybe there isn't a
solution to unemployment. Will we ever have more jobs than we have people? If
the answer is no, then it stands to reason that we will have those in the
community who need to receive unemployment benefits to cover the costs of
essentials such as food and shelter. Someone once said that the sign of a civilised society is that it looks
after it's less fortunate. I would boldly add that a civilised society also
critically considers information it is presented, such as those sweeping
generalisations about maginalised groups.
Going back to the dole bludging unemployed, my experience
has shown me that there are individuals in this group who need long term,
respectful, intensive support to help them get to the point where they would
not only be employable, but importantly, would be likely to sustain their
employment. But we don't seem to be having conversations on sustainable
employment. We seem to be more interested in 'numbers' and quick fixes, rather
than lasting solutions. A case in point- The 'work for the dole' program, which
some people in the community see as a great way to move 'dole bludgers' off
unemployment and into the workforce. This program forces the financially
vulnerable (ie the unemployed) to work for free (or else have their
unemployment money cut off). Despite research showing the program doesn't
achieve what it claims it will do, which is to provide employment outcomes, the
program continues and no one is talking about it, or asking who benefits from
turning members of a maginalised group into slave labour. Is this the kind of
society we are proud to be part of and why aren't we talking about this?..not
you, you are a critical thinker, it is the others...the less than fifty
percent, but more than five.
Copyright matthew schiavello 2015. Written as part of my forced work for the dole activity.
"It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on "
Joni Mitchell wrote and sang this ( 'River' off the lp 'Blue') and I kind feel it... I wish I could skate away from all of this madness, the giving, gifting and everyone playing happy families... when none of us really are.
In brighter news, I am working on scanned work for my March exhibition. I'll share some of what I am working on below and some of the recent photos I have been taking. I'll also finish on this festive note: Wherever you are, be safe and happy, may the new year bring all you need.
Scanned mixed media experiments for the series 'Seminal Works':
‘Untitled #58′ (a.k.a S.O.B.)
‘The urban view #9’
‘Urban landscape #16’
all images copyright matthew schiavello 2014. Lyrics to 'River' copyright Joni Mitchell.
It has been a while since I posted new music. I haven't been listening to too much new stuff of late, but have re-acquainted myself with some older music. Here is a small selection of tunes, one or two I may have shared on here a long while back, but they are worth a listen or second listen!
Joanna Newsom has a new LP out- Divers. Her voice can really divide people (it does sounds a little different on this Lp (possibly due to age or she may be singing differently due to nodule issues a few years back?)), but I personally really love her work. She also plays the harp and piano. It has been 5 years since her last Lp (the triple Lp) 'Have one on me'.
Joanna Newsom- 'Divers'
Nadia Reid. This New Zealand songstress was brought to my attention by my mate Jody Galvin (who is often playing abut town, so keep an eye on her facebook page for info).
Anyway I quickly purchased Nadia's Lp 'Listen To Formation, Look For The Signs' and am enjoying it. This is a single from it.
Nadia Reid- 'Call the day':
Unless you are living under a rock, you would know that Adele has released a new track off her forthcoming LP '25'. I watched the clip, around 14-15 hours after it was released and it had already gained over 7 million views on you tube! Over 500,000 people gave the track a 'thumbs up' and just over 5,000 didn't like it. I wonder if it meant the other 6.5 million were all apathetic listeners? I think I need to give it a couple more listens to decide were I sit. I checked this a day later and the the track had over 50 Million views. I checked it again around a fortnight later and it had just under 226 Million views! (yes, 226 million!). Now, around a month after release, the track has had almost 485 Million Views! Yep, wow! As for the song, I think I am still undecided on how I feel.
As part of cassette day (yep, you read right), I finally bought Courtney Barnett's Lp "Sometimes I sit and think and sometimes i just sit' I bought it on cassette, I think 300 copies were made. Here is as song from it called 'Depreston'. This has really grown on me and I really like it. This video is live from the great "A take-away show' series.
Courtney Barnett - 'Depreston' (live):
Jessica Pratt. I stumbled across this next song and can't stop listening to it! Her voice is so intriguing and the lyrics have some great moments. The clip is a fan made one.
Jessica Pratt- 'Back, baby':
Other songs I seem to be connecting with emotionally at the moment:
I have been re-listening to Laura Marling's gorgeous Lp 'Once I was an eagle'. This track is so captivating.
Laura Marling- 'Love be brave'
I have always loved this next song and never realised till recently that the great Jimmy Webb wrote it!
Nina Simone is amazing full stop!
Nina Simone - 'Do what you gotta do'
There are some Modest Mouse songs that I really really like and then there are the rest which I want to like... This track is one I really like and is off the Lp with one of the best titles ever (and has great cover artwork)- 'Good news for people who love bad news'.
Modest Mouse- 'Ocean breathes salty'
It is no secret that I love Neko Case. This next track is just so damn good. I play it on repeat. It is from the LP 'The worse things get, the harder I fight, the harder I fight, the more I love you'
Neko Case- 'Calling cards'
Many years ago, I stumbled across Laura Veirs and really loved her voice. I kind of forgot about her after a time and recently found her again This track is off the 2005 lp 'Year of Meteors'
Here are two articles I have written as part of my 'work for the dole' (slave labour) activity.
"Are our rights as a person, different to our obligations?"
At the end of the Second World War, as a reaction to the atrocities
which occurred, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were created to
ensure such things never happened again. But how successful have we been as a
species, or as individuals, in abiding by these articles? How many of us have
read the declaration or are aware of it's existence?
Article 1. states that "All
human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed
with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of
brotherhood". There are 30 articles, amongst these it is stated that we
have a right to live without discrimination and to live safely, we have the
right to a standard of living, a right to education, a right to freedom of thought,
a right to practice our beliefs, and that we have a right to seek asylum in
other countries from persecution (e.g. to escape from those not abiding by
these Articles). But, these are not just our rights to receive, they are also
our obligations in treating others.
As a species, we seem to have habit of scapegoating or underplaying our
actions and behaviours when we need to justify behaving poorly. In my time
working in the family violence field, I came across some perpetrators of family
violence who tried to justify hurting the ones they loved, by making comments
such as 'I wouldn't have done it, if they didn't keep pushing my buttons','They are always provoking me' or 'I'm having
a hard time at work, I come home and I want respect. This is the only way they
understand'. These people who crossed over moral lines (as well as crossing
lines of legal/criminal behaviour), could have been your neighbour, relative,
boss, work colleague, friend or … you get my point.While you or I may not have committed violence
against a loved one, chances are that we have acted poorly in some way at some
point in our lives. Our behaviour could have been direct- talking poorly to or
about others, perhaps we acted in a way which intentionally stopped another
from obtaining something they wanted or needed, or even physically hurt them?
Or we could have acted indirectly by intentionally ignoring a situation.
Perhaps our apathy or lack of action was taken as silent approval of others
poor behaviour, which may have then also encouraged that behaviour to continue?
However we have behaved, chances are that we have tried to justify this, even
though we knew it was wrong (we may even have been ashamed of it), and it is
likely to have been behaviour that we would not wish done to us. The question
is, why do we do it?
Why do we at times, feel that we can act outside of our obligations to
treat others with dignity and which is not in the spirit of brotherhood?
Instead, we act in ways which are essentially immoral. In ways in which we would
not want to be treated, nor have our loved ones treated.And then there is this- we prefer to see
those we act poorly towards, as being seen as 'less than human', as being
“deserving” of our poor behaviour? Sometimes we demonise others or see them as
During the Second World War, the Nazis probably found it easier to
treat their fellow humans inhumanly by seeing them as something other than
human and as being “deserving” of what was done. "This is not the same' I
hear you yell out in anger. It isn't, but it is. It boils down to something
fundamental about the way we view others and treat them, which is contrary to
the way in which we would wish to be treated. It is also about our attempts to
justify this behaviour.
The atrocities of the Second World War, affected us as a species so
strongly that we vowed never to allow such things to happen again, not to us or
our loved ones. But sadly, when it comes to those we think poorly of, or have
prejudices against, we appear to find it easy to justify skirting around or
stepping over the lines of right and wrong. Perhaps the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights needs to include some articles on self reflection and
exploration of where our feelings of anger, prejudice and hatred stem from (and
then some additional articles on our responsibility to safely work through the
these issues, to minimise their impact on others). It doesn't make sense that
we would treat someone/s we didn't know or hadn't had any contact with, in a
manner which suggested that had personally done the most heinous of things to
us. It doesn't make sense to me that we would treat a stranger in a manner
different to how we would want to be treated. But maybe that is just me?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be found at:
When someone is born
different, there can be many different reactions from other people, reactions
such as acceptance, outrage, anger, love, joy, happiness, pity, shame,
loathing, condemnation, to name but a few. Why? Often those that claim to be
the most devout can have the strongest reactions. When these reactions are
positive and lift people up, when they create an atmosphere of acceptance and
love for who people are, this can be a wonderful thing that can enrich a
community and can assist people in becoming the best person that they can be.
But, when people are hated and hurt (physically, emotionally
and/psychologically) just because of who and how they are, questions arise such
as: why is this occurring? How does it effect the community, is this ok and how
benefits from this negative behaviour?
Some differences can
be easily seen and others not so easily. People may have been born without a
limb/s, with poor or no vision, people may have been born thinking or feeling
differently. There are lots of ways that people can be different. Mind you, this
statement is itself preposterous, as no one is born the same or identical, we
are all different, even identical twins have different fingerprints. Some
people see certain differences as being acceptable or unacceptable. The
question is - who is to say which differences are acceptable or unacceptable?
When people say
others are born wrong, or are an abomination, who are these people to judge?
Who has a right to treat others poorly as a result of perceiving their
'difference' as being 'wrong'? For those that are religious or devout, If a
divine creator created us, and made us just as we are, who has a right to judge
what the creator has created, who dares label the creator's creation as
The question that
comes from all of this is- What kind of a community would we want our children
and loved ones to live in? One filled with love and acceptance, where people
are shown how to love others for who they are, or a community in which your
children and loved ones are judged, where they may try and hide their
'difference' (for fear of being judged), where they may worry and dread the
consequences of being seen as 'different'?
All copyright matthew schiavello 2015 (doesn't really need to be said does it? as copyright is implied the moment I put my creative work out into the world).