The Wildfire Manifesto
In order that we may be understood, we must first understand ourselves and the path that brings us to the here and now.
We are tired, strung-out and disillusioned. We toil our lives away in unfulfilling jobs, squeezed to breaking point, fed on aspirations of pursuing, possessing and producing wealth in the hope that it might lift us from this economic climate. Our leaders perpetuate our endless obsession with money, enslaving us to a system that takes from us, polluting every section of our society with bitterness and apathy. This country’s need for economic and global clout has made us a suspicious old miser, so terrified of losing the pennies keeping us afloat that we neglect our friends and let the house fall down around us. Our lack of fulfilment has led to an addiction to instant gratification; we use apps to buy things quicker, to fuck, feel and befriend, to broadcast our views (negative and positive), all with the swipe of a finger, a few jabs at a touch screen, and all to feed our neglected emotional and spiritual needs. Many base their self-worth on ‘matches’, ‘likes’ and ‘followers’, constantly measuring themselves against those we think are better than us. The powers that be look to divide and conquer; afraid for us to think collectively, to work collectively, they pit us against each other. Instead of celebrating the richness of our differences, we use them to attack each other. The more unstable and fragmented we are, the more powerful they are.
We have never needed art more, to be our emotional and spiritual refuge; Tania Bruguera in her Manifesto of Artists’ Rights (2012) said “Art is not a luxury. Art is a basic social need to which everyone has a right”. However, we are told from the minute we can understand words that art is a luxury, window dressing, the high and unattainable property of nations, monarchs, popes, despots and millionaires. Housed in imposing institutions, dead galleries, underground tombs, expensive theatres and ticketed events in places we usually don’t live, or feel we don’t belong. The powerful have turned art into another divisive tool; seen as a refuge not of the spiritual and the emotional, but as a means to turn profit, amass wealth, a refuge of the privileged made by and for those who can afford it. Corrupted & prostituted, not worth buying unless it costs more than regular people can afford, not worth funding unless it can turn a substantial profit.
“Art is not a luxury. Art is a basic social need to which everyone has a right.”
Art is in everything we see, everything we do – human existence itself is intertwined with artistic creation, it is a basic right and we all deserve it. We know too, that art has great power, power to build more effective economic growth, energise local economies and change peoples’ lives – but the powerful would have you forget it, because they don’t feel we need it, or deserve it. Through the destruction of those things that divide us, that keep us from appreciating and embracing our birth right, we can change the way we live through art. But we must heed this warning from Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1909 Art and Swadeshi Manifesto); “Let us not love art because it will bring us prosperity; rather because it is a high function of our being, a door for thoughts to pass from the unseen to the seen, the source of those high dreams and the embodiment of that enduring vision” – an enduring vision of that which our society can and will become.
Wildfire is, at its core, a travelling pop-up art gallery, curating and delivering unique, site-specific exhibitions across the country. On our journey around Britain, artists will exhibit work drawing inspiration from the places we visit. None of the art seen in one place will be seen in any other, these will be transient moments of artistic expression. Artists will get to express themselves with almost total freedom, growing a following and collector base around the UK. All forms of art will be included, and all will be welcome to enjoy it. More important than this though is the ethos at the heart of the project – affordability. Art can and should be created for everyone to enjoy, and therefore affordable for everyone. It shouldn’t be unattainable, it should be in your living room. We wish to provide a welcoming and engaging environment that challenges the norm and alters perceptions around art galleries and art ownership.
The destructive connotations of our name represent the pent-up frustration at the current state of art and modern society. Wildfires destroy but they also renew and bring about a rebirth. We want to engage more people with artistic creation, expression and, yes, ownership than ever before. We wish to scorch the earth, but we wish to sow the seeds for regrowth. New conversation within art and society at large. We wish to unleash frenzied and passionate artistic expression, spreading across the country. Burn away conventions and perceptions that seek to present art as a negative, dividing force.
We want to effect change;
In the art world
In the way art is perceived
In the way art engages people
In the country
In the world
We invite you to change it with us.