Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of "alternative
economies," especially as they relate to art practices. It’s certainly
a relevant issue here in Austin, where the idea of a "market" for most
work is just that, an idea. Of course, there are some lucky few who are
able to sell work and make enough money to cover their expenses but for
most of us, it’s something we have to subsidize with jobby jobs.
Fortunately, most of us don’t mind. This isn’t something that stops us.
Austin is a fantastic place to start an artist collective, to pool
resources and get stuff done (shown). I myself have been involved in a
number of these organizations, most recently with the Austin Video Bee.
I really enjoy this mode of working and promoting art. It is alive, can
change gears on a dime when necessary, and most importantly, create a
sense of community that has been essential to me during my time in
Which brings me to Austin Film Society‘s presentation
this coming Wednesday of Lunchfilm (more info here), a project by Mike
Plante. Plante, a filmmaker, writer and programmer for Sundance and
CineVegas (among many other things) describes his project:
I buy a
filmmaker lunch and in trade they give me a short film
made for the cost of the lunch. It started by accident – and necessity.
In all, 50 short films have been commissioned (or eaten). Rules and
ideas based on whatever we talked about at lunch are written on a
While each film has its own logic, it’s all about a variety of tastes.
The overall metaphor is about community. It is very easy to help a
filmmaker. Buy one lunch today.
screening of work happened during the last edition of Cinematexas in
2006. It was great. We had a big BBQ picnic to celebrate. Filmmakers
and artists got to chit chat and make friends with each other. I’m
still Facebook friends with a good number of them.
What other sorts of "alternative economies" can we create for ourselves
here in Austin and how can we create larger networks with organizations
outside of the city? An example can be seen in Okay Mountain‘s links
with the Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City. When it comes to the
creation of new artworks, Austin Video Bee’s 2 "commissioned" videos by
our friends to make part of our second release. Fusebox, coming up next
week, has also been involved in commissioning original work and
enabling collaboration between artists. And of course, Co-Lab is doing
an amazing job at this as well, pairing people for installation, having
critique sessions, and a host of other things. So let’s keep it up
everyone, and let’s support these grass-roots initiatives by SHOWING UP