Richard Linklater inspired by slackers

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Austin Director Richard Linklater stopped by the art building to speak with visiting artist Mika Tajima about his 1991 film, “Slacker,” the philosophy of slacking and how they relate to Tajima’s exhibition at the UT Visual Arts Center.

Photo Credit: Tamir Kalifa | Daily Texan Staff

Director and filmmaker Richard Linklater and artist Mika Tajima contended that slackers aren’t apathetic or lazy, but are instead driven by a unique ideology that emphasizes enjoying life. They discussed their views on slackers at a program presented Tuesday by the Blanton Museum of Art and the UT Visual Arts Center.

Linklater, known for his 1991 film “Slacker,” and Tajima, creator of an exhibit in the Visual Arts Center entitled “The Architect’s Garden,” noted the ways art facilitates an appreciation of a slacker’s world view.

Tajima said she often integrates the concept of ‘flaneur,’ or experiencing the world as you stroll through it with no particular destination in mind, into her work. She said flaneur is a key element to one piece she has on display at the Visual Arts Center, where emphasis is put on the empty space in the work, rather than the physical parts of the piece.

“It’s like the classroom at the University where no one showed up to class,” Tajima said.

Society often overlooks great pieces of art and artists that require them to think about that space in between the art, or non-traditionalist thought, Linklater said.

“My prototypical American slacker would be Henry David Thoreau,” Linklater said. “People hated Thoreau.”

Thoreau, a renowned 19th century essayist and naturalist, is an example of people who have rejected the traditional way of life in centuries past, he said.

“There’s always going to be people who are going to be like ‘screw this, I want to live,’” Linklater said.

Linklater said he believes that people who avoid consumeristic obsession usually are more apt to place emphasis on life and people rather than their dollar value.

“The stock market crashes,” Linklater said. “We’re like ‘so what?’ There’s a sense of community. There’s not a lot of greed.”

Linklater and Tajima acknowledged the growing influence of consumerism in the evolving purpose of college, a topic recent Trinity University graduate and Visual Arts Center intern Elyse Rodriguez said directly applied to her life.

“We touched upon many issues that affected me personally as a recent college grad,” Rodriguez said. “College used to not be so expensive. Now, you are pressured into taking a job right away, even if it’s not what you love. I want to do my own thing. I don’t want to be in a cubicle with computers because it makes me money.”

People must decide how they define the word “work” before being able to truly appreciate a non-consumeristic ideology, Linklater said.

“You have to be careful how you define work,” Linklater said. “I don’t really consider what I do work. This is the life I chose. I love it.”

Linklater’s most recent piece of work, “Bernie,” starring Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey, isn’t set to be released until next year, but audiences will have a chance to screen it Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Paramount Theatre to raise funds for fire victims in Bastrop. Most filming was done in Bastrop, and Linklater has property in the area.

“It’s something people in Austin can do to help our neighbors,” Linklater said. “My neighbors all lost their houses. Unlike my neighbors, I am not homeless.”

Printed on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 as: Director, artist inspired by slacking.