Not the teacher’s pet
What do you do in your downtime, during your “off” hours? Just launched this summer at Chinatown’s thirtyninehotel, [OFF]hrs/creative is an ongoing series of hands-on alternative arts “classes” (a loosely used term) scheduled to continue through the rest of the year. What you get is a jolting double C boost of creativity and curiosity as a means of recharging your batteries.
Upcoming [OFF]erings of special interest include (alterna)APEC Workshop–Art Demonstrations: a guerilla gardening/global commons venture “Eating in Public” (10/13); a screening of Yes Men Fix the World followed by DJ Saki spinning some “political sampling” (10/20); and The Yes Lab (11/5), all of which are hard to apathetically shake your head “no” to.
Q&A with Jaimey Hamilton, Jason Farris and Gelareh Khoie, event directors
This fall gives specific attention to APEC. Why the, um, obsession?
JH: I don’t consider this an obsession, but a dedicated focus to an important issue from different creative angles. [OFF]hrs/creative is the opposite organization model to APEC. [They work] on a corporate transnational level, interested in streamlining regulations and laws for more regularized and globalized methods of manufacturing and selling consumer goods. [We’re] a space for individual expression, local solutions, exploration of diversity of food we eat, the way we work, entertainment we consume, the thoughts that we have.
JF: [APEC] is a select group of wealthy multinationals, CEOs and policy makers deciding for us behind closed doors how we’re going to live our lives while we passively reward them for the privilege. But we’re not simply demonstrating against APEC, [but] for the breadth and depth of experience that we have available locally and around us. Being critical observers of where we are is just the beginning, the next step is in imagining the kind of world we want to live in, and artists are historically really good at that kind of vision, while neo-liberal outfits [turn] a blind eye to anything but profit.
How do you gauge the success of an [OFF]hrs/creative class?
JF: The first is ideological–we don’t. We’re merely getting the best people we can find to engage with the biggest room full of people we can get and basking in the magic glow of not knowing how it’ll turn out. But of course, the reality is–we do! Offering content in a context you don’t often find elsewhere is successful.
JH: Success is a term too often used in our economically driven culture. But how do I know [it’s] thriving? It’s all about the heat and voice level in thirtyninehotel in the early evening as we move from discussion to more socializing at the bar.
GK: When there’s a strong sense of enthusiasm you know the class is a success. For example, when more than half of the attendants in a lecture Q&A ask questions, and [it] goes 40 minutes over the time set for it, I see that as a great success.
When not running [OFF]hrs/creative, what do you really do in your off hours?
JH: What I love about my life–teaching at the university, participating in art culture, writing about art and globalization, directing projects like [OFF]hrs/creative–is that I’m never bored. Cooking up the next creative adventure with my family, friends, colleagues…it all seems very integrated and organic. There are just too many curious things and interesting people for me to even think being “off.”
JF: Hikes, the ocean, watching movies, especially reading. I’m really interested in the role of fictional narratives in our society as a whole and spend a lot of time exploring that in one way or another. My dream project and perpetual work in progress is a fictional advocacy group that playfully explores the omnipresence of fiction in everything we do.
GK: Collaborating with artists and colleagues, that’s exactly how [OFF]hrs/creative came into being.