Monday, 16 June 2014

An artist's view of Brighton

I had a week off work last week and so today has mostly been a battle against the emails, however there was one that really made me smile.

My last post was about the Artists Open Houses awards and the fact that we sponsored the Visitors' Choice Award. Afterwards I asked our winner - Cristobal Ochoa - if he would be interested in writing a few words about his experiemce of Brighton and the festival and today I received his reply.

While we may have our own little moans about this city, I think Cristobal's post puts things into perspective and will (hopefully) remind all of us why it is we love Brighton & Hove...

On February 12th, 2014 protests emerged in Venezuela (my home country) due to the economic and security crisis we are going through. These pacific protests were growing more and more and so was the repression of the Government to them, violating our right to protest and human rights. Those were weeks were we felt asphyxiated and feared the fact that we were stuck in a country in war. Venezuela´s situation turned more tense and dark while days passed, and the Government wasn't paying attention to the complaints of a tired country, but was looking for confrontation among the two sides (the ones that supported the government versus the opposition), in order to have a civil war. 

Amid all this chaos, I was lucky to find a ticket out of Venezuela (extremely expensive and difficult to get one) and arrived to Brighton on March 29th, 2014, filled with hope and illusion of being part of the Brighton's Art Festival. The contrast was very much gratifying. I was able to walk through the streets of Brighton without feeling fear of being mugged or even killed (in Caracas it's unthinkable to walk through the streets at night). I was shocked by how clean and maintained was the city, the public transport service which lets you know when the bus is coming (this doesn't happen in Caracas), the parks, the deck, walking in the beach, the Palace. I started to get to know people from Brighton and was completely delighted of how sensitive and relaxed they were, with an open mind and extremely kind and patient with foreigners. It was people who enjoyed art in all its expressions, and demonstrate it attending each event or artistic show that happens in town.

Cristobal Ochoa's performance art in Brighton. Photo credit: Julien Zuinghedau
I left Brighton on June 3rd, 2014 recharged, full of good energy and new experiences, for which I am nothing more than thankful for the hospitality you had with me. I am thankful for the award, and I take Brighton in my heart and in my memory. I hope I can come back next year with a new proposal.

A big hug for all the VisitBrighton team, the festival staff, and every person that participates in it. And of course, to the Brighton citizens.

A big hug to you too Cristobal :)