It was writer/curator Kevin Murray’s idea to stage a hypothetical at the Powerhouse Museum. I’d never hosted one before but I had facilitated Dfactory there every month for three years so the powers that be knew that I could handle a panel. I’m used to dealing with around four or so people at one time but having seven onboard was always going to be a challenge.
Luckily the panelists were up for it too and together we roamed from Sydney to Delhi and beyond during the course of our imaginary scenario. Along the way our media mogul, Pawan Luthra commissioned invitations for his daughter’s debut from exciting new designer Ishan Khosla who with the help of Diego Bonetto from Big Fag Press managed to convince his patron of the value of the hand-made.
This individual humanistic quality also shone through in the order of napkins and tablecloths that Mrs Luthra requested from textiles designer Sally Campbell. But when the former Director of Craft Australia, Jane Burns, got caught up in the transaction and was held hostage by the Artisans Liberation Front, things started to look problematic.
It was only through the intervention of Powerhouse curator Christina Sumner and UNESCO Observatory founder Lindy Joubert that Jane’s release was secured through a deal that saw the musuem’s 30 odd printing presses shipped off to Indian artisans to revive.
All in all there were lots of laughs and a great exchange of ideas for while the hypothetical game was a fabrication, the basis of the scenario was grounded in reality. We reaffirmed the notion that the mark of the hand-made reminds us of our humanity in the face of rampant social change and we also questioned the role of museums in the digital age. When redundant technology can be reactivated with unique artistic results, as in the case of Big Fag Press, it seems a shame to keep so much of it locked up in museum warehouses. Perhaps the answer is the ‘Living Museum’ where the skills are kept alive along with the technology for what is one without the other?