Read an extract from Urgent Moments on the Spinoff


The producers of Letting Space, Mark Amery and Sophie Jerram, recently teamed up with Amber Clausner to co-edit and produce Urgent Moments: Art and social change: The Letting Space projects 2010–2020, which was released in October. 

The Spinoff ran an extract prepared by contributor Pip Adam:


  • The National Party wins 60 seats in the general election, and work with Act, United Future and the Māori Party to form a government
  • John Key becomes prime minister
  • Sir Jerry Mateparae becomes governor general
  • A 6.3 magnitude earthquake strikes Christchurch, causing major damage and killing 185 people
  • Minister of finance Bill English delivers the “Zero Budget” planning $1.2b worth of cuts over four years
  • MV Rena runs aground on Astrolabe Reef Tauranga, causing a large oil spill
  • Two further major earthquakes strike Christchurch in one day
  • Internet vigilante group Anonymous launches attacks on government websites in response to Arab Spring protests
  • A 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the east of Japan, killing 15,840 and leaving 3,926 missing
  • Mojang Studios releases video game Minecraft
  • Prince William and Kate Middleton spend $1.1 million on wedding flowers
  • Sāmoa and Tokelau move west of the International Date Line, skipping December 30
  • Anders Behring Breivik kills 8 people in a bomb blast in Oslo, then kills 69 at a massacre on the island Utøya
  • WikiLeaks and others publish 779 classified documents about Guantanamo Bay detainees
  • Occupy Wall Street protests begin
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il dies

There are many first attributions for the expression “If you remember the 60s, you weren’t really there”. But the first written citation I can find is in a comedy column in the Los Angeles Times in 1982, 12 years after the 60s ended.

Twelve years ago now is 2011. That’s the year John Key’s National government came into power. The year that gave us the Occupy movement. Do you remember? Were you really there? 

Thinking about our recent past is difficult, but it’s one of the most necessary things needed for change. And it’s at the heart of our new book about the 2010s – Urgent Moments: Art and Social Change. The Letting Space projects 2010-2020

“If you remember the 60s” was the expression that came to mind when The Spinoff’s books editor Claire Mabey challenged us to write about Letting Space in the context of climate change. Letting Space began in the mid 1990s under the auspices of gallery Artspace in Tāmaki Makaurau, taking over vacant spaces for artists’ projects in response to the long slump that followed the crash of the 1980s. In 2011 it was happening all over again but climate awareness and neoliberal reform had changed the whole endgame. 

Read the full extract here.