Hartmut Veit (Hart) is a German/Australian socially-engaged contemporary artist with an abiding interest in the modern application of ancient wisdom traditions into contemporary life.
He predominately works site-specific with sculpture, painting, installation and performance art to question our human relationships with geological matter. Over many years of social engagement and research his artworks and eco-performances with coal in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley created conversations with residents whose lives and livelihoods were intertwined with climate change and demonstrated the increasing ecological impact of human beings’ commodified relationships to nature, place and matter.
Dharma not drama
Drama (and its genres, comedy, satire and tragedy) are by their very nature deeply anthropocentric, positioning human beings at the centre of all relationships. Dharma – a key concept in Indian religions such as Buddhism – can be understood as a set of beliefs in a universal truth common to all beings at all times and as such empathises the interdependent relations of all beings, seen or unseen. The exploration of these two concepts are central to Veit’s art practice, performances and inform his current long-term art project “Stanley Ave Studio” – An experimental, interdisciplinary contemporary art and performance space.
Within the context of the current climate crisis and ecological grief on individual and collective mental well-being Veit’s mission is to integrate the imagination and creative arts into contemporary Dharma practice as an authentic path to deeply inquire into the nature of the mind and lived experience. The intention is to re-connect and transform our relationship with self, other and the living world.
Melbourne Insight Meditation
Hartmut Veit is the co-founder & current president of Melbourne Insight Meditation (MIM) a not-for-profit, secular community of meditators practicing in the tradition of Insight (Vipassana) Meditation.
Over the last 14 years he initiated and established three regular weekly sitting groups in Melbourne (at CERES in East Brunswick, BSV Buddhist Society Victorian East Malvern and at SAS, Stanley Ave Studio in Mt Waverley). He leads this not-for-profit and in is chair of the MIM Committee. Having personally facilitated over 500 sits over the last 14 years he is currently undertaking formal Mindfulness & Compassion Teacher Training with the Insight Meditation Institute under the guidance of Subhana Barzaghi. In his various roles he endeavours to live a life steeped in the dharma and extend his formal mindfulness practice into daily life.
As a contemporary artist his practice is based around the integration of the dharma within the context of climate emergency.
Stanley Ave Studio
Stanley Ave Studio is a category defying art, yoga and meditation studio. In addition to weekly art, yoga & meditation classes is also an experimental contemporary art, exhibition & performance space. Artists, writers, guest curators, dharma teachers and performers are invited to develop and present experimental projects, happenings, special events, workshops, day retreats, exhibitions and use our venue to stage eco-art performances in response to the climate emergency.
Hart’s intention is to create a supportive environment that nourishes creativity, research, personal growth and transformation: in essence building sangha – a community of spiritual friends interested in the modern application and relevance of ancient dharma and yogic practice as a response to the challenges of contemporary life and culture.
I am a German/Australian artist with a sculptural and installation practice, which is informed by a socially engaged collaborations and ethnographic methodologies. My transient, restless family migrated twice from Germany and as a son of a mining specialist I grew up internationally, in often remote regional mining settlements mainly in PNG and Canada. I acquired four citizenships by the age of 18 before my family finally settled back in Germany, where my education, daily reality and personality was shaped by the Cold War and ideological clashes between a West German capitalist and a East German socialist/communist political system. From 2013- 2017 I undertook a 4-year long social engaged art practice in Morwell/ Latrobe Valley with local mining communities to explore the material brown coal in my practice-led research and MFA thesis.
In January 2022 launched Stanley Ave Studio to the public offering a weekly public schedule of art, yoga and meditation classes in a commercial shop at 61 Stanley Ave/Mt Waverley. As the artist-in-resident I continuously create, stage eco-art performances and working on new art projects with collaborators which are then exhibited and sold through the small front studio gallery and online.
Hartmut Veit’s Masters thesis questions human relationships with geological matter through a socially-engaged art enquiry into the politics of coal, space and place.
Socially-engaged, participatory practice and practice-led artistic research were combined with an ethnographic sensibility to investigate the role that coal plays in Latrobe Valley mining communities and the community’s response to living in, and among coal. It aimed to create dialogue and better understand the complex web of changes affecting communities, who are in transition and impacted by the closure of coal-fired power stations and sweeping changes in power generation.
The creative works and exhibitions Include documentation of performative acts of labour, such as sweeping and cleaning, which were originally performed in public spaces, neglected historical buildings and empty deserted shops in Morwell. The resultant body of artefacts, performances and installations reflect a sustained material engagement with brown coal and socially-engaged arts practice with Latrobe Valley communities over the last three years. These works are analysed and contextualised by drawing on a lineage of artists, writers and philosophers from the intersecting fields of social practice, art and anthropology, who have explored the political ecology of geological matter and the environment.
This investigation of coal’s role in the local community of Morwell demonstrates the increasing ecological impact of human beings’ commodified relationships to nature, place and matter. Departing from these site-responsive concerns and the context of peri-urban Victoria, coal’s political ecology acts as a microcosm, an allegory and visual metaphor for much larger political and cultural situations. Moving beyond the impact of globalisation on local conditions, the research adopts a New Materialist lens to frame and foreground the agency of matter to questions such pre-conceived human-centric biases.
Contesting anthropocentric definitions of temporality, performance and authorship this research endeavours to act as a cultural agent of change and assist the local community to make the long-term transition to a sustainable local economy and cleaner energy future that better supports jobs, communities and their long-term health.