Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Book of Debt - Alinah Azadeh - Burning The Books

Burning The Books - Alinah Azadeh - Collaborative Performance

Credit rich, and cash poor is a term I heard many years ago that very aptly describes our consumer world, and those of us if not the majority, carry a load of debt and we fit precisely into this description.

We can find ourselves in a serious predicament, up against the wall of debt, we can no longer maintain, pay our bills or even survive. We can't sleep, maybe can't eat, and are in a constant state of anxiety and stress.

This state is usually accompanied with a heavy burden of moral judgment. An unspoken shaming judgment, that says you are a failure, and you are some how morally defective. It's very similar to the same kind of shame and blame that comes out of the industrial revolution in the days of poor houses, were the poor were seen in the same light. 

In my early adulthood I read all the books about managing money, The Wealthy Barber, Head and Heart Financial Strategies for Smart Women, and all of Brian Costello's books as well; How To Beat The Tax Man and Your Money and How To Keep It. They all helped me, up to a point. The problem was, I never seemed to have enough money to keep, and whenever I did, I didn't have a clue how to keep it. I attribute the reasons for this to be numerous. Recovery issues within my own personality, which I take responsibility for, what I was and wasn't taught about handling money in and out of school. One thing was for sure, I did feel a level of shame and guilt because of my financial circumstance and blamed myself.

Now I see debt in the grander scheme of things, after my life experiences and when listened to Canadian Writer Margret Atwood's lecture about debt in 2008, on Ideas,  CBC Massey Lectures, "Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth. "

Margret Atwood helped to clarify things for me. Mind you I still have no money, I do have some debt, and through hard work and the Grace of God, managed to pay off a 20 year mortgage. As an artist I never studied art to make money. Today I do have a much better understanding of my relationship with money as an woman  who is not a "starving artist".

 As I've heard it said by Ann Rea, artists are entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs are artists. I like that. I'm not sure if all entrepreneurs are artists, but I do believe artists need to be entrepreneurs.

Today I listened to an interview with artist Alinah Azadeh. Years ago she also also heard Margret Atwood's Massey Lecture, and this greatly influenced her art work. The Book of Debt and her Burning The Books, is Alinah Azadeh's powerful collaborative and poignant performance piece.


Judith Joseph said...

This is a compelling subject. I did an installation called "The Owing Project" in 2010 about debt. I included a "Debt Confession Booth" where people could go in and write down what they owe on little scraps of paper. The scrips were quite interesting: both financial and emotional debts were described, and how they made people feel bad about themselves. http://www.judithjosephstudio.com/installation.html

Unknown said...

Oh this is wonderful to know you did this Judith! I will certainly visit you "Owing" Project installation! Thank you so much for sharing!