What a time of joy it was to experience the Octopus embraced by and embracing the Less Good Idea. 

These two entities are of course organisations, when we refer to them using our conventional art speak we say things like ‘guided research-based educational programme’ and ‘interdisciplinary incubator spaces for the arts’ – this language is accurate but doesn’t quiet describe the organism that is either. The living, breathing, many complex celled formations and relationships that make up both. I met Başak Senova back in mid 2016 while on a residency in Vienna, Austria, we were both away from home and in a state of transition – in many ways we are still are, this state perhaps informs our actions as activators of the spaces we create and drive for ourselves and others. 

Başak Senova is the brainchild of the Octopus Programme, in many ways she is the octopus and possesses the unique qualities of the big-brained cephalopod in its alien approach to intelligence, its multi-limbed complexity and its adaptability. The Octopus Programme and Başak stretch out across complicated networks, agitating and encouraging actions towards one another. They treat the artists selected and the many organisations contributing with a similar touch, sometimes a hard prod, sometimes a gentle nudge – ultimately a continuous call to momentum and to connection.  

The idea for Centre for the Less Good Idea was planted in early 2016 after a discussion with William Kentridge during which he described a desire to create and support a new foundation for the arts in Johannesburg. As a fellow artist and resident of the Maboneng Precinct in downtown ‘Joburg’ where the Centre is now based, I was asked if I was interested in working alongside him to initiate this space. The conversation was not very long, but I left with formative words ringing in my ears: incubative, collaborative, collective, responsive, performative. These words and ideas resonated throughout my time on residency and I remember discussing the ideas in-depth with Başak while in Vienna. When I returned to Johannesburg I was fired up and ready to make the Centre happen, by late 2016 we were incubating our first season. 

The positions we occupy, as individuals and as organisations, often on the periphery, require us to fulfil rather radical roles, they are about growing in a constant state of not knowing. What was exceptional about seeing the two organisations finally meet on South African soil in April 2022 was that it was evident that despite geographical, language and many other differences we shared a culture of empathy, intimacy and trust.  That we prized questioning and risk taking over being polished or complete and that rather than insisting artists are correct or complete we simple asked artists be to present.  I believe it is due to this shared approach that the resulting two short but intensive days together were generative and generous for both the organisations and the artists.