THE GREATEST IDIOT OF NEW ZEALAND

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Dear Friends,

We invite you to participate in our competition “The Greatest Idiot in New Zealand.” We hope that this competition will be different from ordinary competitions. What do we mean by “Idiot”? We have in mind the hero of Dostoevsky’s novel The Idiot—Prince Myshkin. The goal of our project is to find and identify New Zealanders who embody the qualities of Myshkin and apply those traits in order to solve contemporary social problems. Despite the fact that the image of Myshkin in the novel is contradictory and ambivalent, we believe that there something in his character that we all can learn from as we face the crises and conflicts of our societies in the 21st century. Since Myshkin’s New Zealand heirs are constitutionally incapable of identifying themselves, we call upon you to nominate your own candidates for your country’s Greatest Idiot.How can you participate? First, it would be helpful if you read (or reread) Dostoevsky’s novel. You may interpret the novel and Myshkin’s character however you like—let your imagination and compassion run free as you try to project your sense of the novel onto your own situation—be it in your neighborhood, workplace or society as a whole. Second, once you have found your own Idiot, you should put together a brief but persuasive argument about she/he is New Zealand’s Greatest Idiot. This “nomination” may take the form of a written or recorded text, a video, a photo essay—whatever you like. Please send your submissions to the following address: ????????????????Along with students from the Unitec Design School, we will be selecting New Zealand’s Greatest Idiot. What will this person win? First, if possible, we would like to invite her/him to our hometown of Saint Petersburg, the setting of Dostoevsky’s novel. Second, our Unitec working group will prepare a work of art honoring this person. Since this is a collaboration, we will decide on site what form this will take—a video, a performance, an installation are all possibilities.

Factory of Found Clothes (Gluklya & Tsaplya)

My name is Serena Stevenson, I am a multimedia documentary artist. I met Ivy in November 2008, we happened to be standing next to each other at a festival. I was propelled to talk to her, so I did. I was struck by her beauty and essence.  I knew she was special. We talked about where we came from and what inspired us. She told me she worked with youth. This sparked my interest further, as I am making a participatory multi media documentary work with two teenagers from South Auckland.

Since then I have spent time with Ivy in her home. She is an incredible inspiration to any human being. The love compassion and drive she has to care and look after and change the lives of the young people that live in her home is unique. This is why I nominated her for the idiot project. I could not think of anyone living in Auckland that I know of with the integrity and passion for community and life.

Many thanks, Ivy it is a pleasure to know you.

Serena Stevenson