Dark Veins 1r

1. And the darkness enters the dream we children have, of having children (because it is a good place), who are the same in all respects, images of ourselves, but smaller, icons, narcissistic fetish-objects, in a reductio from which the only possible relief might not be to finally recognise ourselves but to restore thought to the idols and to see that we are, and to wake up, afraid (because it is a bad place);

2. Dark Veins enters the critical darkness in search of the adults who insist we remain here children;

3. Dark Veins(tm) is designed to map this double dream and fear of arrival in the world through the images over which we have no control, those which choose us, kiwis, sheep, the cute, the kitsch and childish associations that for being cute, kitsch and childish are informed by a trauma of separation and isolation from Hawaiki, England, all the other Mother and Father countries, and left on the godforsaken islands of godzone with the birds and lizards;

4. Dark Veins plays out the fantasy, the paranoid delusion, that we are significant actors on the world stage, participating in the tragedy of historical (colonial) time, alongside the psychotic fear and desiring dream that we are not, that we are insignificant, uniquely so, with our own special and genetic (post-colonial) destiny: its images are diacritical;

5. The design of Dark Veins returns the economically suppressed social and political angst to the dominant images, to the surface of the national culture;

6. Dark Veins as an art-critical project is premised on the cultural dominance of the pictorial and graphic arts and the hold these have on the popular imagination. The design of Dark Veins(tm) merchandise, advertising and products represents cultural and sentimental icons within the conceptual framework of a critical darkness, the prevailing sentiment of which is fear: national identity in the (darkly) distorting mirror of an inability to analyse, theorise on or critique that identity;

7. Even when they are regarded as ‘lifestyle enhancing’ or as providing ‘social cohesion’ or as contributing to a sense of ‘national identity’, such social goods require outside legitimation and price-setting, as from a funding body, that puts a price on artistic work reflected in the size (and the presence or absence) of a grant. Funding bodies have a controlling and regulatory function over artistic worth. Dark Veins explicitly calls attention to the political and ideological (and sometimes plain fickle) function of this cultural arbitration, embodied particularly in the agency known as Creative New Zealand and falsely justified by it on economic grounds;

8. Dark Veins as a concept is premised on the economic under-achievement of artistic work. This holds true especially for theatre and performance, where the ‘product’ has a life-span limited to the time the performer is in front of an audience, regardless of whatever benefits – aesthetic, spiritual, social, political – may accrue to that audience thereafter. The cost-value may not be figured into the ticket-price of such after-the-event benefits simply because they are unquantifiable;

9. A business model: the greater part of any live-entertainment budget is spent on advertising, greater than that which goes into staging or wages for the artists, while the products of artistic labour are expected – with or without public funding – to generate cash-flow and pay for the budget. In a practical and critical sense, Dark Veins reverses the accepted business model;

10. An art-critical project: DV(tm) and DVSLWG (henceforth, simply Dark Veins) imagines the relationship between commerce and art otherwise, it is critical of subordination, either of art to commerce or of commerce to art;

11. A joint project: Dark Veins(tm) and The Dark Veins the Strawberry Leaves in the Water Garden are linked by concept and capital: the flow of capital is from the former to the latter, of concept and materials from the latter to the former;

12. A temporary brand-name: Dark Veins(tm) promotes and funds, through the sale of advertising merchandise, a theatre production;

13. A commercial design project: Dark Veins(tm), the mission of which is to make stuff people want to buy to take home and show their friends;

14. A charitable theatre production: full title, The Dark Veins the Strawberry Leaves in the Water Garden, the mission of which is to give people an experience and change lives.

(June, 2004)