The Beginning

Emergent, adjective

  1. In the process of coming into being or becoming prominent.

Tusk, noun

     2.  a long pointed tooth, especially one which protrudes from the closed mouth.

There's a lot of stereotypes out there about Generation Y. We're lazy, have short attention spans, entitled, and in constant need of praise. Apparently some of this is our parents' fault for telling us that we could achieve anything we wanted and praising us just for participating but we should probably also blame Facebook and Instagram for instilling a kind of needy-yet-nonchalant-narcissism in our generational psyche. Well, I call bullshit. And I call bullshit because I think these things overlook a glaringly significant point about our generation – we're chronically self-reflexive. For every instance of towering confidence there's an anxiety ridden moment of self-doubt. Every lament over your languishing, unappreciated talent is quickly nipped in the bud by that voice that tells you 'you're not special and you probably have nothing to say.' 

At the beginning of a career in the cultural sector, this inner-voice can be pretty loud. It's reinforced by seemingly eternal contract-cycles, unstimulating, menial work for equally menial pay, a fiercely competitive job market, an established workforce that ain't going anywhere anytime soon, and more and more graduates every year. Being at the early stage of your career can feel a little like professional quick-sand, and the title of 'emerging professional' a little like code for 'entry level forever.' To question these things isn't to be ungrateful. It's not indicative of an impatient, impetuous character. On the contrary, encouraging questioning and inquisitive minds is vital for our sector. Questioning of ourselves, of what we do, of how our sector fits into a much broader context of politics, governance, …..We want to help encourage this. 

The heart of Tusk's kaupapa is to help us, our ideas, our criticisms, and ideas for the future to 'become visible.' Our motivation for embarking on this project was due to our own self-perceived invisibility. The reality of entering the workforce after the constant intellectual stimulation of university can leave you feeling pretty underwhelmed. You're usually at the bottom of the pile which affords little opportunity to explore what your talents might be, or to engage with others in the wider sector. And it can be pretty easy to feel disengaged and disconnected; that you're destined for a life of solitary cataloguing, and what powers of critical thought you might have had will shrivel up. Now, we need good cataloguing, but perhaps it doesn't quite satisfy that niggling little voice that wants to connect and engage and become a part of a bigger conversation. 

For us, that voice found satisfaction in endless email chains with other cultural sector pals. Friends that not only share a deep passion for art and culture but also politics, sociology, feminism, pop culture, satire, music....There is a certain satisfaction that being able to share and build on ideas with people who stimulate and challenge you provides. So basically, Tusk is an extension of those epic email chains. A collection of people who have a whole lot of things to say; who are smart and engaged. Who should probably have a place to air those thoughts publicly and with each other; to become 'visible.'

This project isn't about professional development. It's because we we have passion and drive and want to be able to grapple with ideas, not just because we think it's important for our sector but because we need it. We think it's important to remember that even though we might have careers in collections or policy, there is no reason to be limited to those confines. And really, at the heart of it, we want to have fun. 

PS - why the title 'Tusk'? A bit of reverse brain-storming: the song Tusk by Fleetwood Mac totally rules; tusk is a strong, single-syllable word; tusk = not ivory, therefore Tusk = not ivory tower. Also, tusks stick out of animals' faces and so are by definition definitely 'emerging.'