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On the need for taking risks

May 11, 2010
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it said in big letters on the publication nestled among the flyers by the door at the place I was having my second coffee on Saturday morning. Turned out to be the program for Melbourne’s brilliant Next Wave Festival, a biannual festival and artist development organisation for the ‘next wave’ (hehee) of ridiculously talented youngsters – 25 and under (bless them).

I found the thoughts and ideas of artistic director Jeff Khan so interesting that I decided to just copy-paste them straight up (for your benefit):

“The 2010 Next Wave Festival will explore the role of risk in a risk-averse culture. Under pressure to conform, we have all become experts in micro-managing our own behaviour. But is this self-surveillance distracting us from the bigger risks, the more un-manageable ones which are increasingly – and radically – changing our world? Just what does ‘risk’ actually mean in these volatile times?

In a wider culture of risk management, how prepared are we to make decisions that are brave, courageous or transgressive? Where is the line between our own personal, moral and ethical worlds, and the codes and principles which circulate in the broader context of contemporary culture? What is our capacity to draw, hold or cross this line? What are the real risks of our time, what are the risks worth taking, and what is our role as individuals, and as artists, in relation to them? How can we act boldly and imaginatively, in art and in life?

Writing on humanity’s essential needs and responsibilities in 1943, Simone Weil claimed risk as “an essential need of the soul.” In recognition of the productive, heightened state that risk produces in us, Weil wrote that “the absence of risk produces a type of boredom which paralyses in a different way from fear, but almost as much.” Over sixty years later, in a world which sometimes seems driven by self-interest, how willing are we to step outside our comfort zones, to consider those outside our immediate experience and ideas that are bigger than our lives?”

Something to ponder, perhaps?

(You can read Mr Khan’s message in its entirety here. And of course check the program – there is some serious talent out there!) Top image courtesy of Next Wave Festival.

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