Bring thyself to account each performance

Date: Fri, 12 Apr 1996
To: National Spiritual Assembly
From: Steve Marshall
Subject: Review of living works of art

Dear friends,

I’ve just read the item in New Zealand Baha’i News – “All Baha’i art works need approval from the national body”. I’ve been an artist and a Baha’i for many years but have only just realised that my art work needs to be reviewed.

I am a living work of art, engaged in a continuous performance with an ever-changing audience. I do, at times, mention and depict the Baha’i Faith as an integral part of my creative output, and this is why I can now see that I do need to seek a letter of approval from you. The main difficulty I have is that my artistry is not adequately represented by a cassette recording, a photocopy or a manuscript. My artistic efforts are largely situational, and are very reliant on spontaneous interaction with people who can be drawn into being co-creators of artistic experiences.

I’m sure a solution can be negotiated and that it can be done in quite a creative way. I look forward to interacting with you over this conundrum.

ka kite ano,
Steve


National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of New Zealand

24 October 1996

Steve Marshall
90 Blacks Road
Opoho Dunedin 9001

Dear Baha’i Friend

Review Process for Artistic Works

The National Spiritual assembly was very interested to receive your email dated 14 April and must apologise for not getting back to you sooner.

In order to give you constructive feedback the National Spiritual Assembly would need to know a little more about what you actually do and how you depict the Faith. At this stage your art work seems more along the lines of a personal teaching activity rather than something which needs review or approval. the approval mentioned in the National Newsletter relates more to the mass produced/commodity type of art rather than to one-off experiences.

If you need more help with this matter please tell us if this is the case and give us some more detail about your particular art work.

Warmest Baha’i love
National Spiritual Assembly
Suzanne Mahon
Secretary

Send in the clones

Here’s something from happier times, a decade ago:

Date: Fri, 12 Apr 1996
To: National Spiritual Assembly
From: Steve Marshall
Subject: Review of living works of art

Dear friends,

I’ve just read the item in New Zealand Baha’i News—”All Baha’i art works need approval from the national body”. I’ve been an artist and a Baha’i for many years but have only just realised that my art work needs to be reviewed.

I am living work of art, engaged in a continuous performance with an ever-changing audience. I do, at times, mention and depict the Baha’i Faith as an integral part of my creative output, and this is why I can now see that I do need to seek a letter of approval from you. The main difficulty I have is that my artistry is not adequately represented by a cassette recording, a photocopy or a manuscript. My artistic efforts are largely situational, and are very reliant on spontaneous interaction with people who can be drawn into being co-creators of artistic experiences.

I’m sure a solution can be negotiated and that it can be done in quite a creative way. I look forward to interacting with you over this conundrum.

ka kite ano,
Steve


There was a creative solution to the problem—the National Spiritual Assembly amended its ruling, and only mass-produced works of art had to be reviewed.