Happy Dystopia - is the name of an online exhibition I am putting on over the coming weeks… It’s simply a long overdue relaunch of my website but if I have to do it I might as well do something to keep it interesting [even if only for myself] so an exhibition featuring 13 themed paintings on the subject of ‘Happy Dystopia’ seems like a reasonably good way to go about it.
Happy Dystopia is the world we inhabit today, where in the interest of a quiet life we are happy to cede control of our country and our democracy to the money men and corporations that have established a U.S. inspired hegemony, which teaches us to believe in the inalienable rights of Marlboro to sell cigarettes to our children as opposed to our rights to ask them to pay their fair share of taxes.
In this dystopia we are happily contented with life, comforted by the fact that for the most part our basic needs are catered for (how and why this comes to be, we don’t ask - it’s better not to look behind the curtain) For a long time we were too prosperous to either notice or care that our voices were no longer being listened too.
The main thrust of the exhibition concerns itself with the housing crisis, or at least the paintings can be said to be concerned with housing… In the last ten years, even the dogs on the street were heard to say that we needed to build more homes, but nobody listened. The people who could have made a difference were too busy attending to other voices - Voices hailing from within the halls of the major banks and financial institutions, and these voices were amplified by the insidious think-tanks and lobby groups that had sprung up around the levers of power, bought and paid for by people who have time and time again been proven not to have our best interests at heart.
They could oft be heard in the years circa 2010 to say things like ‘in Ireland we have such an oversupply of housing that we may never need to build another house again,’ - this is true! I remember hearing this.. but even if this remark was only ever meant in jest, what wasn’t funny was the fact that the world they created made it economically nonviable to build the homes that we would very soon find ourselves in such desperate need of.
With the result being that a whole generation of Irish construction worker was forced to go abroad in search of the employment and housing necessary to raise the new families that a small state such as this desperately needs as an investment in a brighter future…
Well now, here we are, back with the sky high rents and the rocketing house prices that makes you wonder if this was not the plan all along. I heard on the radio yesterday that we have a social housing problem that has grown so large it will run beyond a century before we will clear the backlog - and the saddest fact of all is that we the people did this, we switched off and were happily distracted, content to arrive home to a high contrast 48” flat screen TV, driving a brand new BMW 3, four years interest free.
Housing - Housing- Housing.. let’s not get stuck down that rabbit hole… because we also have some HealthCare Clinic paintings to talk about… on the subject of a #failing Health Service, where as a credulous people we were coerced into adopting a new, more American ‘Model of Healthcare…’ (don’t look at me! You all voted for it, you were fooled by the movie-star’s gleaming white teeth) and as a result we have hundreds of swanky new PrimaryCare clinics down the length and breath of the country, they may look great on the streets of our towns but at the end of the day somebody's got to pay the piper.
Well OK yes…. A lot of elective treatments have got better in the intervening years but in relative terms the normal people of society are not seen near as quickly, nor treated with as much care and attention as the chosen few who are lucky enough to be in a position to pay for treatment… these people.. the lucky winners in life can avail of all kinds of modern miracles, they are seen in double quick time and for the most part have much better rates of remission than the poor unfortunates languishing on public waiting lists…
The fact is, we are cleverly shielded from the full unvarnished truth of our #failing healthcare system by the natural rule that medical treatments are constantly improving over time by pure weight of inertia, as science and technology embraces new learning and a better understanding of the universe.. but we the people are having this future stolen from us, while at the same time we are told to act grateful - for to be granted admission to the temple of big Pharma, it is necessary to give thanks by way of taxbreaks and to safely shelter their offshore profits in the mistaken belief that it is them doing us the favour.
But it could also be said that beyond helping rich old men achieve a more fulfilling sex-life deep into old age, big Pharma has done little in relation to improving overall public health… people will quickly point to the charts and figures that say we are living longer and healthier lives than ever before (this is beyond dispute) but all the heavy lifting was done in the years 1850 - 1980, this was the period where the largest scientific gains in the history of mankind were made, for the most part on the back of research undertaken on the State's dime, in the University laboratories and large nationalised science agencies that defined the era.
But that was in the years pre Reagan, who in the mid 80’s made it possible for companies to copyright the intellectual property gleaned from research paid for with public money… since that fateful day we have seen not so much brilliance by way of research, collaboration and inventiveness - and a whole lot more in the more profitable fields of corporate branding and the big money mergers whose main aim has become the shutting down of small independent laboratories in the never ending search for efficiency… (but for efficiency you should think destroying competition and for research, think the hoarding of lucrative patents in the interest of a higher share price)
Well this is the world I am describing with this Happy Dystopia series… I am depicting a world ofuninhabited and uninhabitable houses alongside fancy new PrimaryCare clinics and Pharmacies, where we wait longer for an appointment to see a doctor than ever we had to in the bad old days.
And waiting to see what it is that this doctor was paid (by way of golfing weekend and a four poster bed) to sell to you, to help ease your mind - it’s brand name scribed in shorthand on a Prozac sponsored pad (it is this cheaply that your body and soul are bought and sold), it’s all a facade, a branding exercise… brought to you by Pfizer and paid for with your own indifference.