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Mustafa Maluka, contributor

Mustafa Maluka isdiscussing his practice and experience with n.e.w.s. so far.

Bio: born & raised in South Africa. First international experience: got a residency in Amsterdam.

He does not teach, does not write. Has a background in Cultural Analysis. Didn't finish my Phd on Urban African youth. This interest in writing about urban African youth arises from his own background,

A co-founder of African HIp Hop dot com -- 11 years ago.

Important to emphasise, the approach has been not to ask for funding, but to self-fund.

 

African Hip Hop Radio

contributors from several countries doing shows.

we've done what politicians haven't been able to do -- to give young people from all over Africa, a voice, and a sense of what each other is doing.

this is but one part of who I am, and where I come from.

 

reformed new media artist

Mustafa talks about his own arts practice, as distinct from his collaborative work.

developing a series of characters, painting them. they are intercultural, trans-racial characters -- people you find in cities like Amsterdam, New York, Cape Town, Singapore.

Say, an American moves to Europe, it's funny how depending which part you move to, people will react to the accent, either positively, neutrally, negatively, etc.

Mustafa's played with this idea of accents, and their reception.

 

working with the Gate Foundation

M was one of the artists working with the Gate Foundation.

The Netherlands is a very multi-ethnic society, but after Sept 11, there were changes.

Last experience with the Gate Foundation, was a project that didn't get realised, but there was concern that his work might "offend" the Queen.

 

role in n.e.w.s.

sees his role of an artist who is critical of critics.

his approach in responding to critics is not to be emotional, but to engage fundamentals and facts.

 

interesting conceptual practice

I feel a great deal of affinity for any art practice based on the criticism of art critics.
But doesn't it tend to give artists the hero's role? That's a problem inasmuch artists are by and large responsible for the failure of art (along with their henchmen the critics, of course).

 

self funding

Important to emphasise, the approach has been not to ask for funding, but to self-fund.
I'm not there right now, so I don't have access to the full complexity of what this note refers to - but it is making me think about the current debate in the UK on artistic autonomy in reaction to state and charitable funding, well summarised in the discussion held by Munira Mirza around the time of her editorship/curation of the Irish curated publication Printed Project. Her issue was called "Artistic Freedom – Anxiety and Aspiration".

The discussion she held aired the idea that often, we're better off self-funding. I tend to agree with anything that problematises the increasingly instrumentalised and corporatised aims of the Arts Council of England, or the 'development' strategies of international funders. But, specifically in the UK context with its sixty-year history of public funding traditionally held at 'arms-length' from policy, it is worrying that this sort of discussion now passing as truism. BY doing this instead of resisting its aims, are we talking ourselves into a nice, precarious, neoliberal corner? Isn't this a very convenient reaction for public funding discussion to elicit? While I don't see private funding as the philanthropic horror that I used to, in the UK we seem to be discussing artistic autonomy as though there is some viable option other than participating in the art market. There is in fact only one fully independent, self-supporting, not-for-profit art initiative in the UK (that I know of), which is the Cube Cinema in Bristol. And it got there by adhering to something far more closely resembling anarchist, rather than neoliberal, principles.

Meanwhile, Mirza has happily confirmed her rightwing credentials by taking up the post as Director of Policy, Arts, Culture and the Creative Industries to London's hard right mayor of 'picaninnies' fame, Boris Johnson. The lesson: if it looks like a shift to the Right, it probably is a shift to the Right. (The question of whether you're against that, and what that means, in the arts is another, highly situated, matter altogether).

 

scale

I tend to agree with your point about the pitfalls of giving up on pubic funding, but isn't it also largely a question of scale? I mean doing art can be quite inexpensive whereas applying for funding can be incredibly mind-numbingly time consuming. So sometimes it's just better to self fund, as it were. I have seen great projects, which would have been easy to fund, never get off the ground because the funding didn't materialise, which leads me to believe that funding is not just about cash but about symbolic capital: conferring a certain stamp of legitimacy on the project. Participating in performing it.

 

legitimacy

Applying for funds is in a way conferring certain stamp of legitimacy to an art project, but very often it is question what kind of legitimacy it is. Here I predominantly think of experience with-already-discussed-in-many-occasions Soros support to Eastern European radical and progressive art scene. Soros, or rather his donations (through many Centers for Contemporary Arts), was often the only guarantee for the independence of not only “non-neoliberal” art institutions, but also of the autonomy of the critical public almost extinguished by chaotic breakdown and nationalistic authoritarianism, and of an anti-nationalistic, pacifist, even leftist political activism, how Buden points out. So, it is really a question what kind of legitimacy some art projects get...

 

symbolic capital

I take you to be saying that the funding source is actually part of the art project, rather in the way pigment is part of painting. It's a sad day when art must owe its non-neoliberal (or other) credentials to the funders. And by funders I mean those who lend symbolic capital to the project (a text by Buden in the catalogue is also useful in this regard). In the artworld, one can produce the identical discourse but depending on the framing alone (including funding as frame) it can be interpreted as wickedly reactionary or wonderfully radical.

 

ad hominem

I'm a big believer in ad hominem attacks. :D

 

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