Dieneke Jansen Youre Welcome Announcement

RM lives in a neighbourhood with several spaces that house and host art alongside dwellers including luxury apartments owners, loft livers wrestling late capitalism and public housing tenants. A concern for the gentrification of this place that clusters around Karangahape Road has been voiced for years, perhaps decades. This means different things to different people – inevitably underpinned by the fear that increasing real-estate value will by default result in expulsions.[1] In some cities, artists are cynically used to gentrify urban areas. Yet it seems that there is some passion for this part of Tāmaki Makaurau to continue to house a range of residents and artists. At least, I hope so.

Belonging to an ongoing trajectory, You’re Welcome collaboratively develops dwelling narratives with inner-city housing residents and art community through exploring the possibility for a lens-based social practice to co-create spaces of appearance.[2] I’m interested in the connections across these spaces and utilising the forms and platforms of art to open front and back doors. You’re Welcome starts this trajectory by encouraging stories to surface about home and the neighbourhood.

Under these precarious pandemic conditions, You’re Welcome had to wait and then adapt. Meeting with friends and acquaintances – several without internet access – shifted the project’s methods while maintaining its desire to use photographs as conversation starters. When it was safe to meet in nearby parks during October and November, eight disposable cameras were handed out to nearby public housing tenants. Each person photographed things ‘that make it your home’ and things ‘that makes it your neighbourhood’. On picking up the camera, we undertook a video walk. On returning the photographs, each person edited out anything they didn’t want to share publicly and selected two photographs for the online exhibition that accompanied their video walk. This forms the first part of the project hosted online by RM. In the third week of February (17-19th), the second part of this project will occur at the Old Folks Association. A video chatroom will be set up that will be hosted by different project collaborators each day.[3] Playing cards made from the generated photographs will be used in various ways to start conversations and share experiences and outlooks. In sharing and rotating the roles and responsibilities of the chatroom events, it explores how a lens to be a respectful guest and a caring host in shared hands.

I want to express the joy I have experienced in regularly meeting with Gina, Edward, Six, Frances, Vernon, Tim, Francine and Teare whose friendship and trust I care for.

[1] David Harvey, ‘The Right to the City’, in Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution (Verso, 2012); Saskia Sassen, Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014).

[2] Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1958).

[3] I would like to acknowledge Tuafale Tanoa’i, AKA Linda T, for her inspiring art practice as these events take place.