Art From Politics: Illusia Juvani: Apply generously (2023)

HD video, 16:9, stereo, 5 min 59 s

In this video essay Apply generously Illusia Juvani examines the phenomenon of decaying funding of arts through their own experience: how insecurity affects artist’s work and life. The question of grant funding and economic insecurity touches also other groups such as researchers and civil society.

Illusia Juvani is an award-winning artist-activist who studies difficult and painful societal issues in their video, photography, sound, object and text works.

This work is on display in Art from Politics Series 27.11.2023–28.1.2024.

My well-being is always just temporary. A brief moment in between hopelessness. Art is such a heavily underfunded field, therefore when I manage to score a grant occasionally I am so relieved. The two year working grant I received from Kone Foundation has given me so much security. I have been able to live with my traumas. I’ve been feeling so much better because of it. It has been that much easier to live when an occasional taxi drive to emergency care clinic doesn’t fuck up your budget by driving your personal economy into a long term deficit.

I’ve had enough money to go swimming regularly. Eat out sometimes. I’ve been able to buy a trampoline that can stand my weight. I’ve bought a dishwasher. I’ve had enough money to afford dental care. I’ve been able to buy well balanced food that has helped me to have enough energy to work and live. I have paid off some of my student loan, I’ve gotten a small loan to buy a really good bed that doesn’t destroy my back. I invested in a bicycle. I have been able to rent a bigger apartment where there’s actually enough space to move around and to create. I’ve danced more than ever.

I have been able to start new hobbies, like planting a small garden on my balcony. The first summer was completely fruitless, but I didn’t mind. I have zero regrets about the money I’ve spent on plants, seeds and soil. It has been Totally worth it. Unnecessary? Yes, for sure, but has it given me so much happiness? Absolutely.

Having enough resources has made it possible to buy so many different “non-essential” purchases that have made the quality of my life so much better. When you have enough money, not even your mistakes are so devastating. It helps to see the future and picture you in it. It has enabled all my potential to flourish and grow. It has not been drained by the constant worry that is living in poverty. The oasis I have created for me and my cats is a testament to that.

I am not ashamed of my poverty anymore. I have had enough peace of mind and time to ponder thoroughly what it actually means in this current capitalistic system. I understand now that none of it is my fault. The fault lies in the power structure that has been designed to do so. It is a power structure where my well-being is not seen as valuable.

What cruel people don’t understand is that poverty hurts. It is violent and isolating. It drives you into desperation and desperation doesn’t make anyone a better person or a better worker for that matter. It doesn’t encourage you to participate in anything. It destroys your self-esteem. If your voice seems worthless you are more likely not going to use it. How can anyone assume that you can make the best choices for your life when you only have the means to barely survive.

The lack of prospects describes the situation accurately. Does that sound like a position that makes you feel safe, secure or well? When you add on any other challenges you might have on top of that, the odds are even less in your favour. Your capacity goes into energy saving mode and all your aspirations fade away. Fear takes up more space and you can’t afford to hope, dream or trust.

The work is supported by Kone Foundation.

Article image: Illusia Juvani : Apply Generously (2023)

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