TEZA: THE TRANSITIONAL ECONOMIC ZONE OF AOTEAROA

PORIRUA, NOVEMBER 2015

 

Welcome to the arrival of Transitional Economic Zone of Aotearoa to Porirua, which will welcome visitors from around New Zealand.

Public art producers Letting Space have confirmed a wide ranging programme of projects that form the wider Transitional Economic Zone of Aotearoa (TEZA), a bi-annual event that highlights new forms of exchange and economic wellbeing.

A DIY coffin service, a “People’s Library”, a Porirua Loaf baking kitchen, and a roots festival at the time are some of the items that integrate Porirua locals with artists from across New Zealand. 

All projects and the communities of Porirua will form part of an ‘economic zone’ which highlights beneficial reciprocal exchange running between November 21-29th around Porirua City.   The hub of these projects is currently based in a disused building formerly occupied by NZ’s first McDonald’s.

TEZA is a platform for projects commissioned through arts funding and community initiatives, hosted under one umbrella.  Borrowing from the concept of international zones that exploit local resources for multinational needs, TEZA is a way of providing a platform for demonstrating abundance that is not usually recognised.  

TEZA is a way of providing a platform demonstrating economies of mutual benefit rather than exploitation.

Nick Leggett, Porirua Mayor has described TEZA as highlighting the economic heart of Porirua through its people.  “We are really looking forward for TEZA to be a catalyst for uniting the fabulous social innovation and collaboration that is being done in our suburbs and communities.”

 

MORE INFORMATION ON THE TEZA CONCEPT

TEZA explores how a group of artists might visit and exchange with others for the local good. Turning the capitalist idea of the special economic zone on its head - where usually regulations are lifted to allow a foreign company to extract resources at the local community’s expense - TEZA will be a site for exchanging ideas, and the workshop and presentation of projects that are about new systems of exchange. TEZA aims to recognise how artists and the public can all contribute to society employing alternative economic models.

In a time when places are increasingly treated as globally homogenous, TEZA - the Transitional Economic Zone of Aotearoa - asks how a group of New Zealand artists can travel under a singular identity and work in a specific place meaningfully as outside agents with local communities.

TEZA creates a temporary community from which artists create creative projects working with the surrounding public. These projects will respond to the current strong need for the exploration of new systems of exchange. 

The Transitional Economic Zone of Aotearoa has its first iteration in November 2013 in Christchurch, a place where people have already had to creatively rethink fundamental ways of interacting and organising.

TEZA provides a zone for playfully extending some of this public thinking, and exploring how artists from outside Christchurch might play a meaningful role in the city’s transitional period, and increase dialogue with the rest of the country. There have been many transitional architectural projects in Christchurch, but TEZA’s principal focus is social and transactional, rather than physical.

Producers and curators of the TEZA, Letting Space wish to explore how artists can establish a collective environment outside of galleries and institutions which allows for the exchange, development and banking of ideas. One that assists permanent change and the grounding of people who themselves feel in transition.

TEZA will provide physical and digital media platforms that extend its reach beyond its physical site. In doing so it seeks to break down isolation of all kinds, creating links and encouraging new kinds of trade and currency locally, nationally and internationally.

Experimenting with a Model

TEZA is about how temporary experimental art projects can lead to permanent change - because life is transitional, a series of fleeting moments, rather than one governed by permanent structures.

The TEZA model is adapted from that of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ), commonly employed by multinational companies in Asia and Africa to extract resources from a territory. Yet while the SEZ gives people freedom to extract and destroy without oversight, TEZA aims to create an autonomous zone that not only provides freedom from coercion but also the freedom to create new relationships. This allows for the recognition of new systems of value and forms of exchange.

 “The SEZ,” writes Richard Meros, “is a space within a nation that is dedicated to the theology of global capitalism. Think of it like the state of the Vatican City in Rome. Each zone is surrounded on all sides by a nation, and this nation suffuses the zone with it’s culture, but the zone operates under it’s own legislative conditions…

“TEZA is pronounced ‘teaser’. A teaser is that which previews the event and which promotes the event. While a SEZ might tease that a brighter future is just around the corner if a sacrifice is made today, TEZA offers a definite end to the economic zone.”

Letting Space wish to explore then how the SEZ model might be turned from exploitative to beneficial ends. For example: facilitating an understanding of local issues and resources for visitors; aiding sustainable development and growth; and welcoming the contribution and settlement of outsiders, whilst maintaining the integrity and sovereignty of those already resident.

TEZA is also an experiment in how a distinctly New Zealand autonomous zone might operate. From issues of foreign intervention to assertion of tino rangatiratanga over tribal boundaries this feels a very relevant issue in postcolonial Aotearoa. Inherent to the experiment is an exploration of biculturalism, a cultural strength in this country that needs to be built upon. How a travelling group might work culturally with those who hold mana whenua where the temporary encampment rests for example is something we seek to explore.