Okay. The Trash Culture Revue. What? Yes, our mutantspace.com DIY festival. It’s our 3rd festival and it’s happening from Thursday 5th – Sunday 8th May in Cork. The festival is made up of whatever mutantspace.com members decide to do: everything and anything. To date we’ve had; feasts, talks, storytelling, spoken word, film shorts, poetry, theatre, music, circus, Bloomsday celebrations, BBQs, installations and new collaborations across artforms. Some of it worked. Some of it didn’t. But that’s not the point. The point is that we, as a co – operative, created a space and hosted events, gigs and more on the basis of a gift exchange. No money was spent, no funding was sought. We were free, we are free. Members hosted, performed, managed, designed, promoted and volunteered. All for nothing. All for the need, the desire, to make things happen in their place, to change things, to open new ways of producing creative projects and events, to making their mark on the cultural landscape. To get together and celebrate, party.
The fact of the matter is that many of the medium to large size festivals in this country have been co-opted by commercial forces intent on selling product while State intervention is continually pushing cultural activity into a generic industry that produces something that can be sold to people under the moniker of ‘cultural tourism’. The idea, the art, the visual, the sound, the life, the soul, the people and above all the place are no longer important. It is how much we can all make out of the carefully marketed product. It is an industry.
I don’t blame or condemn festivals for the difficult position they are in but I do question their lack of lateral thinking. At present festivals are trapped in a system that demands certain management structures and economic targets that are designed to create a clean, shiny product for market. With this pressure festivals will always take the safe option thus negating what festivals should truly be about; a celebration of mark making, of culture in a temporary space, a place. Festivals need to belong, grow out of their own place. It seems to me that most festivals in this country could be picked up and put down anywhere at all without any change of colour or form. They do not belong. Rather they wander from sponsor to sponsor. There is no philosophy, no sense of where they are, who they are or what they’re doing it for – their culture is generic. Homogenous. It can happen anywhere.
Thankfully more and more individuals, groups, collectives and co – operatives are turning away from this blueprint for ‘success’ and developing their own festivals, events, systems, agendas. It is an exciting time. For while the larger festivals gentrify and morph into a meaningless product there are many smaller ones growing out of their own culture, politics and place.
The Trash Culture Revue is one such project and I’m delighted that we can continue to provide a temporary space – for anything to happen – free of the pressures of state and commercial intervention. The revue doesn’t always work but it is always worth doing. It always has a sense of festivity, a celebration of its own self, politics and place. And that is what festivals should all be about.
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