Editor’s Letter: November 2012
As I sat down to write this month’s Editor’s Letter, a tapestry of destruction from Hurricane Sandy enveloped large swathes of the East Coast. Even now, a week later, wide regions of New York and New Jersey remain without power, and many homes and businesses along these states’ coastlines have been ripped apart, scorched or swept out to sea. Sandy has claimed the lives of 106 Americans, including 40 in New York City alone. Just before ripping through the U.S., the cyclone wreaked havoc in the Caribbean, killing 71 in the region, including 54 in Haiti. In Cuba, over 200,000 homes were damaged.
Within hours of the storm’s passing, I began receiving emails from artists all over the country asking whether Creative Time Reports would feature their writings and videos about the hurricane. They wanted to use our platform as a space to not just focus on the hurricane’s immediate impact, but also ask our audience what it means to be in the midst of a U.S. election in which neither candidate seriously addressed the issue of climate change, perhaps as a result of the growing influence of conservative think tanks and fossil fuel industries on both major parties. A story that the media has mostly buried over the years, either because politicians wouldn’t openly discuss it or because it wasn’t sensational enough, is now resurfacing as a result of Sandy’s devastation.
Since Creative Time Reports’ inception we have maintained our commitment to offering space to artists longing to inject such challenging issues into the traditional media landscape. Indeed, one of our very first commissions, an essay by Los Angeles-based artist A.L. Steiner, forcefully critiqued the impact of a consumerist economy on global warming. In the article, Steiner explains, “Simple math tells us that we can’t continue on this path for long…There are dire consequences resulting from our everyday decisions, cravings, follies, distractions and waste: the sacrifice and death of other humans, species and environments that surround and sustain us.” Pieces like Steiner’s underscore the objective of Creative Time Reports: to help connect dots; understand how our decisions affect the world around us; and suggest how we can make a difference, even if it simply means seeing our actions through a different lens.
Though the site is only two and a half weeks old, every piece commissioned by and posted on Creative Time Reports has carried this message. Whether it is Pedro Reyes proposing new media strategies for publicly airing critiques of Mexican politicians, Federico Zukerfeld’s film about the state of Argentina’s piquetero movement 10 years after it formed, or (Ghana ThinkTank’s list of Top Five projects—humanitarian and artistic—around the world, we are making a concerted effort to imbue a fresh voice into the world of news. We have taken our first step towards sharing artists’ reports with outside news websites: Ahmed Mater’s photo-essay on Mecca’s new landscape, “Artificial Light,” was recently featured on Foreign Policy’s website.
In November we will present artists from around the world weighing in on significant issues such as African emigration to the Middle East, nuclear weapons, gay marriage, government surveillance and, of course, elections here in the United States. With each piece we will be showcasing what we perceive as overlooked content and perspectives, in hopes of generating a new and much-needed dialogue.
As ever, we await hearing from you, no matter the subject.
—Marisa Mazria Katz