September 2018

you know when you can’t find that quote you’re looking for so you have to make up your own: on NOTHING

In some cultures–not ours, not yet–nothing and space are so closely related, rather than as a negative instance, rather than as void or absence, nothing comes as welcome relief (from the relentless compulsion to something), where it is like a window on the inside, or a door, opening onto nothing, welcoming you in, to rest there, or bidding you to go on, for nothing.

— see also here

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are there any answers?

Dear Visitor,

Let us engage with the questions:

  1. anthropogenic climate change–is the question of the present, not the future.
  2. ownership of elements: air earth water warmth–China has awoken to Capital, whatever the corporate brandname on it: another question of the present.
  3. health: obesity is a mental illness; mental health is a cultural illness. A question of the present.
  4. the future will be? A question of human cultural regeneration–perhaps the only question of the future?

In our small way we are addressing ourselves to these questions with a view to an answer that is local and directed towards the future.

The means to cultural regeneration are within reach of a modernity that believes in itself–has not lost that belief. This we have found in Benesse Foundation’s Public Capitalist undertakings in Naoshima and Teshima, the ‘art islands’ of the Seto Inland Sea in Japan.

We would like you, dear visitor, to share with Benesse this vision for an answer that is local and directed towards the future:

 

I am writing to you from Waiheke Island.

Waiheke has a similar status in the Hauraki Gulf to Naoshima in the Seto Inland Sea. It is a popular tourist destination: however it attracts visitors more for reasons of its natural beauty than for cultural tourism.

Waiheke is 35 minutes by ferry from the centre of New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland. It currently boasts a resident population of @9,000.

A large proportion of this population is artistically active–this is owing to heritage settlement: it was originally a cheap place to buy and rent, with advantages of a healthy natural lifestyle.

In terms of built infrastructure it is poorly served, with one exception: the Stony Batter site, https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/auckland/places/waiheke-island/stony-batter-historic-reserve/

Built to defend New Zealand in the event of the war in the Pacific extending into the Hauraki Gulf, Stony Batter is largely built underground, with approximately 7km of tunnels.

It has recently been proposed that Stony Batter be developed as a Heritage Site. Submissions are being solicited by Auckland City Council to this end. However, it is our opinion that Stony Batter, on Waiheke Island would be a missed opportunity of giant proportions if it is only developed with a view to low level heritage tourism–which tends to be internal and nationally based.

Stony Batter, Waiheke, commends itself as a site for Global Cultural Tourism.

The as-built aspects of it, the island location, underground and above, the natural surrounding context, are ripe for such development.

Ando, we think, would be impressed with this structure: although built for utilitarian purposes, its aesthetic qualities are evident.

The underground would suit gallery development, with installations taking advantage of the light and sound qualities of the tunnels. The textural and architectural uniqueness of the site would attract and inspire international and local artists to exhibit and install here.

The exterior would suit installations to make the most of the dramatic scenic beauty of Hauraki Gulf and islands.

We humbly bring this to Benesse’s attention on the basis of our recent visits to Naoshima and the sites of cultural tourism–and cultural pilgrimage–located there. Stony Batter Waiheke Island could be such a place with the vision and thinking and good-being/good-doing that is characteristic of Benesse’s Public Capitalist approach. It could be a Southern counterpart to Naoshima and Teshima.

We would add that Benesse’s sensitivity, shown in the development of globally recognised sites for cultural tourism in Naoshima and Teshima, is to the forefront of our considerations in making this recommendation. Waiheke has a long colonial and precolonial history, as well as the heritage to which Stony Batter is a material attestation: the respect we know to inform Benesse’s approach is essential to this project.

We suggest that Benesse follow up with a submission to highlight the advantages of Stony Batter as a site for global cultural tourism (with a smaller heritage element incorporated into the plan). Submissions are currently open until 27 September 2018. Please make your submission here: https://www.doc.govt.nz/get-involved/have-your-say/all-consultations/2018/applications/fort-stony-batter-heritage-park-limited/

Please be aware that we present this proposition in good faith and feel free to cite our support for this submission.

 

Yours Sincerely,

Dr Simon Taylor

 

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