It’s hard to be an artist in a poor country. The government doesn’t support you, there are no safety nets like unemployment benefits, the NGOs are mainly busy trying to fix other problems and those people that do have money are more likely to spend it on imported art than on the local variety. Often you need to take a day job, where you have to work long hours for little pay. For many artists that’s the death knell – exhausted by life’s commitments, they sacrifice want to need and leave their passion behind.
Not so for the rapper L-Mappo. Not only does he hold down a job, pursue his passion, and raise a family, he has taken it upon himself to help those worse off – namely the kids of the barrios, or slums, were the poverty is greater and the opportunities rarer. That is why Gaby Baca calls him Pappo Mappo. He is a father to the rap community in Nicaragua and he’s given countless youngsters avenues of expression that might otherwise have remained closed to them.
And just like he gives meaning to lives, he also feels there should be meaning to his music, believing it should be about more than entertainment. For him his rap shouldn’t be a distraction, but instead a tool to highlight the inequities and injustices, so that people may become aware of the bad things that are being done, and the bad things they are doing. He does this, despite knowing full well that in doing so he locks himself out of the little money the government, who prefers cheerleading to social commentary, does make available for artists. He chooses, in other words, to walk the high road, the windy road, the hard road. For in awareness lies the seed of change and the betterment of society is more important than his own comfort. And that’s awesome. Welcome to 200 R ONE, L-Mappo. And remember, your choices might not have left you rich in pocket, but you outshine all those who choose the easier path, and many of us that chose the harder path as well, with the richness of your soul.
Ernest Hemmingway said, “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you.” Great quote, right? In truth, however, our lives here at 200 R ONE would be so much easier if people simply did what they promised when they were sober. Hell, if false promises were Facebook likes, then 200 R ONE would rival Michael Jackson’s fan page! Okay, slight exaggeration. Still, occasionally, in our darker moments, we do end up slightly cynical, perhaps even jaded, by how many don’t walk as they talk. And then we get a submission like Pandorasdiary and our hope is restored.
Pandorasdiary doesn’t just talk about collaboration, they do it. And not in some small way either. The two UK born performers have decided to work together with musicians not from the next village, city, or country, but from the other side of the world – Indonesia. Seven musicians from two countries. You can check out their work on their website. It sounds absolutely great! A fantastic combination of vocals and instruments. But it isn’t just them that restored our hope. Their community did as well. Pandorasdiary reached out to their community through crowd funding and the community answered, making their recording and a large part of their project as a whole possible.
Their community, in other words, put their money where their mouth is. And that is a beautiful thing.
We can learn a lot from these ladies, for they don’t just play lip service to the concepts that we hold dear, but act on them as well. And, to judge by their website, they do so successfully. Fantastic! So here’s a big shout out to Pandorasdiary! You turned your dreams into plans, now hopefully we will do our part to turn those plans into reality! And in return, we hope you will remind us why 200 R ONE exists, what we hope to accomplish and how to go about accomplishing it. By showing us how to crowdfund perhaps? Welcome to 200 R ONE, Pandorasdiary!
Being a travelling artist can be hard. Both road and art cycle through waves of elation and depression, companionship and solitude. And when those waves align the highs can be amazing, while the lows can be so very, very low. Wildlife and travel photographer Andrew Macdonald knows all about that. A few months ago the troughs of his waves aligned perfectly when him and his girlfriend, who was both his travel companion and his best friend, split ways and he lost his photographic equipment in a fire. I can’t even guess which hurt more.
For those not blessed (cursed?) with an all-consuming passion no doubt the answer is obvious, but when you’ve got a drive, it suddenly becomes much harder to answer. He didn’t just lose stuff, he lost his ability to earn, he lost his ability to create, he, in other words, lost a part of himself. Twice over. I can understand why he decided to go back to Scotland after that. There’s no shame in that.
And yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if he somehow did feel ashamed.
It’s a funny thing about the road – be it art or travel. Once you’ve decided that your life belongs on it, any time you have to get off, it somehow feels like you’re cheating, or you’ve failed. Why is that? Fortunately for us, he’s making plans to get back on it. Here at 200 R ONE we can only applaud that. Not only because we want to see more of his art, but also because we know all about when the wind turns against you and the rain feels like razor blades. All you can do is keep walking and hopefully find somebody to walk beside you. Welcome to 200 R ONE, Andrew Macdonald. Thank you for sharing both your wonderful photos and your story with us. In return let us share our network and our dream with you to make sure none of us ever have to walk alone again, be it across bright hills, or through dark valleys.
Today we introduce the extraordinary Shih Yun Yeo from Singapore and with her we have to accept there might be more to this fate thing than we’d realized. How else do you explain that we receive a submission from somebody who hosts an artistic residency on the very day that we put our first article about artistic communities online? That wasn’t planned. At least not by us. Cue dramatic music.
She’s got a lot of experience with such communities, not just hosting but also taking part in many as a researcher and an artist. What a treasure trove of experience! We here at 200 R ONE hope very much that she’ll allow us to pick her brains one of these days, especially seeing her residency is only the beginning of collaborative spirit. For example, she believes artist and audience should work together as well, as this quote by Darla Tagrin that accompanied her emails demonstrates, “Leave enough ambiguity in your paintings so that there is room for the viewer’s imagination to contribute to the experience, making it a collaboration.” And it doesn’t stop there, for her artwork, in essence, is also a partnership, “By tying the brushes on the trees, and at the mercy of the wind only, I have given up control… These marks created are then selected by me, scanned and digitized, re-composed and then transposed to silk-screens.”
And that is something we really appreciate here at 200 R ONE – somebody who does not just understand the world’s interconnectivity but embraces it too. And we’re not alone in our respect, as her shopping list of awards, exhibitions and articles attests. It’s not just us few here that are interested in collaboration, that there’s a whole world out there that’s excited by the idea. So Shih Yun Yeo shows us the idea can work! We can take sustenance from that here, and hopefully example as well. Welcome to 200 R ONE, Shih Yun Yeo. May you brighten our path with the light of your example, even as you make the world a more beautiful place with the intricacies of your art.