free for all
# JOURNAL 2015
To Tafeaga Onesemu Afoa and Anthony Bruce Carlyle Afoa Thank you dad for migrating from Samoa and calling New Zealand home. Thank you for working tirelessly so that I could pursue my dreams. Thank you Ants for being a second father to me, for continuously supporting me and for keeping me grounded.
Published by Hashtag500words First Published 2015 Copyright belongs to the authors as named
ISBN 978-0-473-32388-2 Printed in New Zealand by PDQ Print Designed by Lana Lopesi Edited by Emil Dryburgh and Haley Parkyn
SHOOTING IN AN OCCUPIED CITY
Why the town isn't the wood - A hieroglyphic rap
A Generation's Plea
Memorial of a meal
First published 1 March 2012 #Art #Writing #Reviews #TeamPoly #TeamRatchet #TeamPutInWork #TeamEducation #TeamWhatchuknowboutart? #Lol
The key is that we are a bunch of young creatives made up of students, artists, bloggers, designers, writers spanning across all arenas of the arts. We are not people who place ourselves above others and thus assume this role of criticality but merely youngins’ negotiating this creative sphere in which we inhabit. Discussions about “good” or “bad” art are redundant and regenerative, we are much more interested in creating a dialogue about spectator experiences. Questioning and discussing. Each person’s viewing experience is totally unique, writing is an idea to further this dialogue. Often the world of art writing can become quite regenerative and un-arty however our space encourages the creativity to stay within the writing and the writing to be informed by the work rather than the arena of criticality, with the only rule being no more than 500 words. “I don’t consider myself a great writer, but writing like fine art is not just for the ‘great’. It’s not for those who we think are superior to us in the field, it is for everyone. A child’s story telling of their first day at the zoo has just as much importance and is in no way inferior to that of a renowned author, although the level in skill may be different, does this mean that the child should stop writing? I believe that you don’t have to hold prestigious awards to write about art”
We are attempting a critical online space aimed at generating conversation about the local arts scene, by providing current commentary on what’s what. Rather than publishing an overarching summative opinion on behalf of us all what we offer is multiple unedited perspectives about exhibitions, theatre productions, poetry slams and all other happenings in our community.
The two of us (Louisa and Lana) have had numerous conversations about how we need an increase in art writing. After hours of banter, one conversation finally ended with, cue excitement ..‘why don’t we start writing about shows?!’ cue the birth of #500words.
If you want to write, just write.
In 2012 when Louisa Afoa and myself started # or Hashtag500words, we were naive, a bit stupid and to top it off we were young, so young. We thought that by starting a blog which we called a website (because websites have perceived hierarchy over blogs) that we could affect the culture of arts criticism in New Zealand. We thought that we could set up an umbrella of honest, conscientious publishing and that you, our readers, audience, and fellow art community members wanted. In some ways we did, and in many more ways we didn’t. # now sits within the New Zealand arts ecology and, as many would argue, feeds into that same pool of arts dialogue that we were initially reacting against. Whilst we try hard, I feel we are yet to find that model of criticism that people feel comfortable with. In New Zealand critics still fight that parasitic perception; that we are artists turned critics, presumably making a quick buck off someone else’s work. Boy, what a love hate relationship.
One day I woke up to art. I mean real art - backstabbing, secret money giving, reputation ruining art. This realisation has made # work even harder to shape itself as an open platform for all types of art related publishing. # wants to see an equal occupation of critical space between curator, artist, gallerist and writer. From its inception, and still now, we have big hopes for #. One of those aspirations has always been a journal, as a way to explore the collaboration between print and online media. Through creative and critical responses to the idea Free For All, #’s inaugural journal is keeping with the spirit of how we first started; an open platform for publishing with little limitations.
What would you say if you had the space to do so? What would you change? Where would you be? # is a platform. The words however, they are yours.
We sincerely want to thank our readers. Without our readership we would cease to exist. Thanks for taking the time to read our texts, using # as a resource, sending encouraging emails and everything else. Your genuine gestures mean a lot. For 2 years # has operated on a zero budget. Thank you to all the amazing people who have contributed to # online and in print. Without your thoughts and willingness to engage we would have no content for publishing. Special thank you to Louise Tuâ€™u, Sonia Aurelio, Sarah Murphy, Julian McKinnon, Salome Tanuvasa, InĂŞs Valle, Faith Wilson and Zoe Crooks, contributors to our inagural journal. Over the years we have been supported from various organisations and individuals. Thank you Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust, The Physics Room, Dog Park Art Project Space and FUZZYVIBES.
Thank you to Andrew Leilua, Arpi Lopesi Leilua, Tafeaga Onesemu Afoa and Anthony Bruce Carlyle Afoa, friends and family for keeping us grounded and for your unconditional support.
We humbly want to thank Maria Waterhouse for her time and guidance and Emil Dryburgh and Haley Parkyn for their tireless editorial efforts.
The feedback from the speaker is unbearable. I didn’t mention the queue to you either. If I did you wouldn’t have come. It’s really important that you be completely honest about what you’re seeing here, because you’ve never been here before.
We came here when it first opened. It had this massive mural running down both sides of distorted clowns and royalty. My aunty always commented on it. It used to drive me insane. I wanted the last chip but that bitch with her mother pushed in and grabbed them. Not just the one chip but the little burnt bits as well. When I was vegetarian I used to proudly grab them as they were my veggie crackling. Ridiculous I know, but a rite of passage when you’re in your twenties and you want to be different; present but not preachy, vigilant but not judgemental. Well, not too judgemental. Hence the vegetarianism. Of five weeks.
Memorial of a meal
The bar is on this side, resplendent with everything you’ve never been able to afford. Or should I say everything you’ve never have been able to figure out how to cook as you didn’t watch the whole recipe when they cooked it on telly. Go on, touch it, it’s already dead. That’s why it’s on the platter. It goes well with the cranberry.
I hate coming here because there are so many migrants in this place. That’s how you know it’s cheap. Like Pak’n’Save, keeping the prices down. God, that was so…racist. Well, it was just a thought. I didn’t say it out loud so it doesn’t count. I love contemporary dance. I don’t understand it but their physiques are so perfect. They’re flexible but socially awkward. That’s what I realised when I went out with one of them. God, not the whole company, just the one dancer. We came here a lot cos she could put it away.
No, I grabbed the last French roll.
Did I shoot the pair down with my eyes I hear you ask?
nineteen ninety / wish I were ten years older
New Zealand born and bred Pacific Islander
stereotypical clichés and expectations thrown my way
constant associations not needed or wanted
Obedience / is this something to be proud of? No
ashamed of? No / I am tired of this balancing act
hey you! be this way / contrary to expectations / I became that way
A Generation's Plea
young woman / speak your mind / voice your opinions do not / it is law / unspoken law? No / drum it in and make her mute break her and dilute her image / toss and stir her confidence in with the saka / kill her why don’t you
cling to the ancestral ways in / a modern western world
fight for this hybrid that kills my generation / literally
This fight is far too long and hard / but you say
the west is to blame for their wandering minds / and I say
relentless blindness won’t make this right / Right? / Right
always right / wake up and smell the koko because / we don’t want to live like this / cut the chains and let us free / let us be / let us roll in our rebellious ways
let us come crawling back to you when we get scared / if ever stop ramming it down our throats / because culture is always / it lives in our shadow / You live in our shadow
in the back / in the front / on our left / on our right
you both surround our being / everywhere we go / so /
enough / with this torture /accept our plea to run and be free / willingly. 10
Community kəˈmjuːnɪti/ noun 1. 2.
a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.
Working within the constraints of language, we scramble to find labels that will best define us. Words acting as gap fillers. Insecure in silence. Existing within a society that has set parameters, we are not always lucky enough to have the freedom to choose our own. Please tick one of the boxes we have provided for you.
Recognition is powerful, but so too is agency. Redefine, reclaim, reorganise. What does it mean to occupy space, both physically and mentally? What does it mean to occupy language? If we consider that “language is the site for the construction of the self”1 then our use of language can be a tool of subversion.
Institutionalised identity. Terms of convenience. But what exactly are the conditions?
1 Holtgraves, T. (2001) Language as Social Action. Social Psychology and Language Use. Psychology Press.
As a form of action, language acts without consent. Lending itself well to the structure of hegemony, language promotes difference.
Us versus Them. We cannot be one without the other. A doubleedged sword; the weapon of choice in this world of binaries. Carlos Motta speaks of difference as “a way of being in the world, and as such it represents a prospect of individual and collective empowerment, social and political enrichment, and freedom. Freedom implies the sovereignty to govern ones self.”2
Ironically, collective experience is a subjective construct. Nothing exists in isolation. In coming together we are an intersection of identities and ideas. Each of us brings our own unique history to the wider collective group. Difference as a construct is displaced by a sense of community. Displaced but never quite eradicated. Unintentionally, in our efforts to safeguard a collective identity, we create spaces for exclusion within our respective communities.
Existing in the in-between are the rebels and the outcasts. A space occupied by many. No room for movement. Slipping through the cracks of the system. The mental health system, the education system, the justice system. Systematic failings. Institutional silencing. In communities of diverse sexualities and genders we know this failing all too well. An alphabet soup constrained by our own parameters, we are a community in a constant state of flux.
In a mash-up of pride parades and gay bars we present a united front. Homosexual Law Reform, access to healthcare, marriage equality - there is power in numbers. 2 USF
Motta, C. (2011) We Who Feel Differently. Ctrl+Z Publishing and Gallery
However we find ourselves in a problematic situation. In attempts to stand unified we operate under an umbrella of one community, yet continuing to hold on to this notion appears counterproductive. We have found ourselves situated within a system that acts to define us and so we can position ourselves. Yet, the claim we make determines our trajectory.
As we walk wooden boxes down the very same aisles we fought so very hard to walk down together, I question just how collective our experiences are.
Why the town isn't the wood - A hieroglyphic rap
! ! the town isn't the wood ! Why the town isn’t the wood - A Heiroglyphic rap! ! !
Nurtured nature, secret gardens and concrete jungles Nurtured nature, secret gardens and concrete jungles;!
the peeps on the street are darwins divine
the peeps on the street are Darwin’s Divine.!
they’ve won the fight cause they’re fighting everyday They’ve won the ﬁght, cause they’re ﬁghting ere’day;!
the smartest there are, put em on wall street the smartest there are, put ‘em on Wall Street, !
you watch them be king kong
and you watch ‘em be King Kong.!
you asked about agency, grey dwellers don’t have representation You asked about Agency, Grey Dwellers don’t have representation’;!
they’re living the dream, driven up the wall they’re livin’ the dream, driven up the wall.!
no ladders to climb, the gift time with no memory No ladders to climb, they gift time with no memory;!
present lives -they’re the romantic at heart in a room with a view
present lives - they’re the romantic at heart in a room with a view.!
interior designers feng shui and city scales are all the same matter Interior Designers Feng Shui and Cityscapes are all the same matter;!
circumstance heavy space and homelessness work together circumstance heavy, space and homelessness work together;!
what makes you empty is what defines subliminity
what makes them empty is what deﬁnes sublimity.!
its the art of not performing Its the art of not performing;!
wake up on a bench, i call that contemporary art daily
wake up on a bench - I call that contemporary art daily.
A speculative exploration of emergent possibilities for a new global commons.
Betty’s heels click against the pavement. She’s walking through a long tunnel. The lighting is paranoiac. Fierce, bright pools of light punctuate shadow. She huddles into her jacket as she walks. The chill of the air is matched by an eerie foreboding seeping from the walls. Her pace is brisk and purposeful. Other figures move through the tunnel in a similar fashion. As she moves toward the open air at 1 Quoted from Gestures Toward a New Life: The Avant-Garde as Historical Provocation. This essay by Verwoert was published in the Utopias edition of the Whitechapel Press/MIT Press series Documents of Contemporary Art in 2009
My mouse finger hovers, ready to click. A plethora of videos, articles and images have popped up in response to my one-word search for ‘Anarchism’. The content quality varies as widely as its ideological underpinnings. Serious discussions of a society organised on principles of self-organisation, voluntary participation and mutual aid. Quasi-academics and self-styled pundits declare everything from ‘Anarcho-capitalism is the only true form of liberty’ to ‘Full Communism is the only answer to the ills of the world.’ There is content to fill nearly every conceivable permutation in between. Therein lies the strange beauty of the new global informational commons. Almost anything you can think of is at your fingertips - so long as you’re privileged enough to have internet access and live in a country liberal enough not to censor most of it.
The successful performance of an avant-garde gesture entails a coup, a historical feat. Paradoxically, it lies in the nature of the avant-garde gesture that it is on the one hand transhistorical, to the extent that as a singular event it radically interrupts the course of history, exploding its framework and falling out of all previously valid categories of historiography, while at the same time it is deeply historical, founding the new history in which it will exist and be conceived from now on – as the revolutionary act of founding a new art. Jan Verwoert1
the end of the tunnel towering structures come in to view. Dwelling constructs. Some more than forty stories high. They loom in the gathering dusk. A warden buzzes by; the humming of its quadcopter rotors casts a chill down Betty’s spine. She has no reason to fear it - her biometric data is legitimate. The warden would have scanned her before she even sensed its ominous, hovering presence. Still, she prevents herself from casting a furtive glance in its direction. Favourable data or not, there’s no reason to draw its attention. It’s probably programmed for an occasional low pass, a routine manoeuvre to remind everyone of the omnipresence of O\ oversight. A troubling thought runs through Betty’s mind - what if it’s not? ~ An open platform. A new media. A pathway to a free, meritocratic, and participatory democracy. This is the utopia the internet promised but didn’t deliver2. With access to the sum of human knowledge, wrested from millennia of struggle, incremental development and radical breakthrough, it’s intriguing to see what prevails: belligerent political arguments, indiscriminate marketing, images of kittens, et cetera. Given the opportunity to delve into an ever-expanding archive of human endeavour, many people prioritise watching other people fuck. Which is disappointing if you’re waiting for the emergence of a techno-anarchic global commons. Nevertheless, the freedom of dissemination brought forth by the Internet remains ripe; a frontier territory, an uncharted land. Naturally, as with all frontiers, entrepreneurs, opportunists, and sociopaths have flooded in, vying for territory and control. Yet, these very actions are embedded in the social fabric of a dwindling era. Our culture is still far from catching up to the reality of informational egalitarianism made possible by new technology that simply hasn’t existed long enough for a full adaptive response. 2 Perhaps this narrative buys into a type of blinkered reflection which yearns for a bygone life less complicated, yet excludes inconvenient histories like smallpox from its misty-eyed nostalgia. The utopia of the Internet may never have been anything more than the pipe dream of a few tech-savvy idealists. However, it is certain that network technology has changed the manner in which we can conceive of the possible.
Betty is almost into the safety of her dwelling block. The Warden has tracked along behind her, its presence unnerving. Her mind, in its unkindness, keeps returning to a particular memory. Several years prior she’d seen a warden unleash on a dissident. Small incendiary charges ripped into his torso and set him ablaze. This method of execution was clearly designed for its hideous spectacle as much as anything else. His screams still echoed in the dark labyrinths of her memory. Betty enters her dwelling block and breathes a sigh of relief as the reinforced doors click shut behind her. She rides the elevator up to eighth floor, her sense of calm returning. She steps into her apartment. It’s spacious by the standards of Occidentia 3 – her hometown. She settles in front of the holoscreen in the living space. It lights up in response to her arrival. Data starts running across its display. The Info is on. There’s a continuous feed of economic indicators and brutal updates on the Forever War - casualties taken, losses inflicted, territory gain percentages, summaries of key battles. A stern-faced analyst discusses the next draft and the increases in labour output. He assures his audience that it’s necessary to reach an incremental advantage over The Caliphate. There are reports of wanton destruction in the chaos territories. A serious-faced rush announcer solemnly intones “As we know, Oversight is the only thing between us and this kind of anarchy.” Dispirited, Betty flicks through other holostreams. Aside from The Info, the options are Rageporn and Idiotbanter - each as sickening as the other. Whimsically, she reflects on the early days of Oversight, when holostreams offered something other than propaganda and debasement. Her attention is broken by an incessant humming. The sound is coming from outside her window. Her stomach knots as she paces over and raises the blinds. A warden, its cyclopic camera eye trained on her, hovers outside. It has followed her home. A cold horror nestles in the pit of her belly.
It is self-evident that established structures of power, resource
Panarchadia JULIAN McKINNON 18
distribution, knowledge production, and material culture are changing rapidly3. Human systems of organisation are pressing perilously against the natural limits of the biosphere – resulting in declining polar ice, acidifying oceans, deforestation, mass extinction, et cetera4. Against this backdrop, technology for new systems is developing. Social media and the like have created a situation in which the mass democratisation of global information networks is possible. Consequently, traditional media no longer have a monopoly over the distribution of information. On an individual level, our relationship to the global situation is no longer a passive one, largely limited to a once in 3-5 years interaction with a ballot box. Naïveté is an option. Ignorance is a choice. Yet traditional gatekeepers, governments and big business, appear motivated by the retention of power over information and resources. Whilst there is a latent tendency toward ecological sustainability within some sectors of the power structure, much of it is predicated on dominion over nature, rather than equilibrium. This has a limited timeframe for viability. Our culture is, by most reasonable measures, out of sync with natural processes and is now disrupting the biosphere. Somewhere, something’s got to give.5 3 For all of the eventual violence and tragedy it spawned, the Arab Spring demonstrated the emergence of a new relationship between power and the populous – based on new communications technologies. Furthermore, the shift in the distribution of income to nations outside the occident is fundamentally changing established geo-political power structures (see: the article GT BRIEFING: OCTOBER 2013: THE SHIFTING GEOPOLITICAL LANDSCAPE on the website: globaltrends.com for a brief overview). The nature of business and material culture is also being profoundly affected by such things as crowdsourcing, 3D printing, et cetera. In sum, the emergent network paradigm, coupled with global economic shifts, is profoundly changing the nature of human social order. 4 A wide array of information on all of these topics is freely available via the hive-mind that is the global internet. For a few start points, NSIDC’s data on Arctic sea ice is revealing, as is the Smithsonian Institute’s information on ocean acidification. The University of Michigan has substantial data on deforestation, and information on mass extinction can be sourced from National Geographic, BBC, or Scientific American. A general web search for the terms ‘anthropocene’, ‘anthropogenic extinction’, or ‘anthropogenic climate change’ will return a host of information on all of the topics mentioned. 5 An eloquent, if not a little gloomy, article detailing the likely outcome of
Betty’s heart-rate slows as she pulls in her reeling mind. The whirl of The Warden’s rotors is ominous even through the thick plate glass. It hovers eerily in the darkness. The pitch of the quad-copters’ spinning blades was selected to induce an animal panic in humans. Betty knows this. She’d recommended it to her line supervisor a decade ago, back when Oversight had still seemed like a good idea. Her work in the tech-development division had provided her ample insight into the mechanisms of control used against the citizens of Occidentia. Nevertheless, her fear is instinctual. Her mind starts reaching, trying to explain the presence of The Warden. Could it be? She’d been extremely cautious. She’d covered her tracks and taken every conceivable measure to avoid detection. Yet the predatory hovering of The Warden tells her that she must have overlooked something. Why else would it be here? As if in response to this last thought, The Warden pivots. A light beams toward her holoscreen. She turns and sees the screen taken up by the stern face of an old man. The lines at the corners of his mouth convey an air of presumptuous authority. He’s draped in pale grey livery. Though she’s never seen him before, Betty is in no doubt that this man is an Inquisitor - one member of a small handful at the apex of Oversight’s hierarchy. “Yes?” she says, attempting to project calmness. The single word he speaks in response is the most seditious word imaginable in Occidentia. A dangerous word, laden with revolutionary fervour. A word whose utterance was certain death. A word that had run through Betty’s mind, uncountable times. “Panarchadia,” he says.
current trends in this regard can be found on the e-flux website. It’s titled ‘How to Die in the Anthropocene’ and authored by Roy Scranton. 6 An insightful and profoundly seditious interview with Steele was published by the Guardian in 2014. It is titled ‘The open-source revolution is coming and it will conquer the 1%’ and was authored by Nafeez Ahmed. All quotes
‘Open Source Everything makes truth rather than violence the currency of power,’ says Robert David Steele, a pioneer in the development of open source intelligence6. His speculations on
the future of a networked civilization are informed by decades of involvement in the United States intelligence apparatus. For someone once so deeply embedded in the world of secrecy and spying, Steele is remarkably pro-transparency. He sees a future in which a new commons emerges; an open, public system of knowledge and resource circulation:
Sharing, not secrecy, is the means by which we realise such a lofty destiny as well as create infinite wealth. The wealth of networks, the wealth of knowledge, revolutionary wealth … This is the ‘utopia’ that Buckminster Fuller foresaw, now within our reach. Robert David Steele7 As Edward Snowden’s ear-rupturing blow-on-the-whistle echoes around the globe, with all its insidious implications about internal surveillance and economic espionage, it’s hard to foresee such a situation emerging without profound changes in civil order and attitudes to power. Yet shifting away from a ruthlessly inequitable system at odds with the sustainability of its own biosphere is clearly a goal worthy of ambitious vision. The world Steele envisions is one in which a ‘fully costed’8 economy prevails. Where wealth is not measured in the abstracted terms of dollars and cents but, instead, ecological and social effects are fully transparent and priced in to the system of measurement9. Such a system would require attributed here are drawn from that article. 7 Ibid 8 Ibid. Steele describes a fully costed economy as one in contrast to predatory capitalism. “Predatory capitalism is based on the privatisation of profit and the externalisation of cost. It is an extension of the fencing of the commons… What we need is a system that fully accounts for all costs… a white cotton T-shirt contains roughly 570 gallons of water, 11 to 29 gallons of fuel, and a number of toxins and emissions including pesticides, diesel exhaust, and heavy metals and other volatile compounds – it also generally includes child labor. Accounting for those costs and their real social, human and environmental impacts has totally different implications for how we should organise production and consumption than current predatory capitalism.” 9 This vision is shared by the New Economics Foundation. For a broad overview of their proposals for alternative economics, the article People, planet, power: towards a new social settlement by Anna Coote can be viewed on their
absolute transparency, devoid of the misinformation and deception under which current economic and political activity is conducted. This would amount to nothing less than a new global order in which authoritarian hierarchies are replaced by the all-seeing, all sharing hive-mind.
website – www.neweconomics.org
JULIAN McKINNON 21
Betty’s mind is reeling with the connotations of the word; a state of harmony with nature, liberation from servitude to power structures, an open society based on transparency, the end of war. “Are you listening to me?” The question shatters her reverie. The paternalistic face on the holoscreen is contorted in a frown. The Inquisitor’s eyes are an abyss. “You must give up these delusional notions, Betty. You know perfectly well that you could be decommissioned for even entertaining them.” He lets the word sink in. Decommissioned. An Oversight euphemism for death by torture. “If you were going to do that, I’d already be dead,” Betty responds coolly. “You were cautious and discreet in your intelligence gathering. You didn’t blather to our double agents. You moved with a stealth and intelligence only detectable by the finest analysts in Oversight,” he says. After a heavy pause he continues. “This is why you still draw air, Betty, because I sense opportunity here,” the statement hangs in the air with a sinister stench. Betty recalls the first words she read from the Panarchadia Manifesto. “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery”. What could they offer her here, in this situation? The droning voice of the Inquisitor continues, “Your position in the hierarchy could be enhanced. Your experiences provide you with the ability to empathise with insurrectionary beliefs – you’ll be excellent at identifying dissidents. Comply with our aims, Betty, and Oversight will laud you.” Coldness hangs in the air. ‘Surrender your autonomy for security’ is the unspoken demand. “Some choice,” Betty mutters. She recalls the concluding statement of the Manifesto – “Panarchadia is a shift in perception, realised in the psyche of the individual.” Little more than fiction, it offered no counsel for this life or death confrontation. “Of course,” says Betty. “Excellent,” the Inquisitor mutters. “Report to your regular
workstation in the morning. You’ll be on task immediately.”
~ The social fabric we live in is largely atomised. There is little sense of collective motivation toward goals, outcomes, or endeavours10. Neo-liberal economic doctrine reigns supreme. Whether this is a result of a prevailing individualistic ideology or vice-versa is moot. Presently, cultural production is largely viewed as an economic activity, and art as a commodity. There is little room for art as a peripheral territory, a frontier between known and unknown. Beholden to commercial interests and elite paymasters, art is at risk of becoming a meaningless extension of commercial culture11. Art is not a free domain; it is an occupied territory. Yet things are changing. The emergent power of collective will can be glimpsed in twitter trends, in shifting PR landscapes, in the sacking of a pair of judges on a local reality TV show12. How this will come to affect broader societal systems remains to be seen, as does its impact on cultural production. However, for artists and cultural producers new technologies have created previously unimaginable platforms for 10 A significant point of difference in recent history would be the collective motivation of Western Allies to overcome Nazi Germany. It has been suggested a similar degree of collective will and mobilisation will be necessary to overcome the challenges of climate change. 11 An example of the transformation of art to suit a dominant ideological framework can be seen in the transformation of Revolutionary Russian Constructivism to Socialist Realism. This involved the adoption of a formal graphic language from constructivism, essentially an experimental movement, into artwork depicting idealised heroic workers to promote Communist ideological ideas around labour and social order. Art that met the specific criteria set by the Communist Party was commissioned and promoted. Art that did not was suppressed. An excellent book detailing this subject is The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and Beyond by Boris Groys (published by Princeton University Press in 1992). It’s probably reasonable to say that the pressure to conform asserted by neo-liberalist and free-market ideology is more subtle than Stalinism. 12 In early 2015 Judges Natalia Kills and Willy Moon were sacked from New Zealand television talent show The X-Factor after an impassioned spontaneous social media campaign sought to have them removed. Cries of ‘if only people were this passionate about things that actually mattered’ were heard in some quarters..
sourcing funds and finding an audience. This situation seems ripe for the emergence of a new Avant Garde moving by stealth into new terrains of speculative knowledge.
Resource wars, drought, flood, chaos, destruction, descent of civilization and eventual human extinction. These visions of a disastrous future seem likely to many of those who pay close attention to the details of climate data and current trends in human behaviour. Anyone with an optimistic outlook might find all that a little disappointing. There are, of course, many alternative
Betty wakes. Immediately she recalls her conversation with the Inquisitor. Her heart sinks. “No,” she whispers into the pillow. Her body convulses. A feeling of resignation to her new insidious duty invades her being. She sighs heavily. She pulls herself up and starts readying herself for the day ahead. “How can I go through with this?” she asks her reflection in the bedroom mirror. Unable to hold her own gaze, she drops her eyes. A dream recollection flashes through her mind. She had faced a tree thick with branches. The tree was, nonetheless, a person. Its eyes were radiant balls of white fire. “We will birth the New World,” it had said and gestured to the vista of Occidentia 3. In front of her eyes walls collapsed, vines overran buildings, wildlife emerged in dazzling abundance and diversity. The razor-wire enclosures between the dwelling constructs subsided into parks. “The unfolding of Panarchadia,” Betty had thought, her paranoid terror of Oversight dissolving. The tree had turned to her and spoken “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,” it said as it took root in the concourse in front of her building. Birds were resting in its boughs “Discard the yoke of servitude,” they sang. The dream had dissolved into an intense and vibrant light. Betty’s mind is humming with the recollection. Her heart beats powerfully in her chest. Tears sting her cheeks. She lifts herself, walks to the window, and looks into the street below. A solitary man is standing in the concourse, unfalteringly waving a dissident flag.
Panarchadia JULIAN McKINNON 24
visions. The ‘Gaia Hypothesis’, in which Earth is considered as a super-conscious single entity, is perhaps one of the more farreaching. It sees all life forms as intractably linked - a single global consciousness. Our present age of tumult and upheaval could be akin to an adolescent phase in the consciousness of Earth, a transitional, developmental period13. Whatever the case, change is in the wind. For better or worse, cultural practitioners will have a role in shaping the emergent paradigm. The new system could be one instilled with open access to virtually limitless information, a global informational commons in which transparency is the norm. An artistic culture, born of this, which places the development of new understandings ahead of the generation of revenue, would offer a profoundly different conceptual culture to the world. ~ Betty walks along the concourse; a surreal feeling hangs in the air. Others are joining the flag-waving dissident - a trickle at first, then a torrent. A Warden buzzes and clicks on the ground. Flightless, its control mechanism has been disabled. Betty wanders the streets slowly. Her feet are weightless. Jubilant cries echo across the city. “Freedom!” Betty shouts to the sky. A cheer erupts from the growing crowd in response. From the corner of her eye, breaking through the cobblestones, she sees the green of an emerging shoot.
13 Among others, Peter Russel has written, spoken, and speculated extensively on this subject. He has likened the development of the global communications network to the emergence of a planetary nervous system. His book The Global Brain: The Awakening Earth in a New Century published by Floris Books in 2008 details his research and speculations on this subject.
Resistance is intrinsic in every human being; we announce our birth to the world with a powerful scream. In our first breath we announce our existence, and we should never stop reclaiming our air. The history of Palestine’s resistance is not new. Since the 19th century, Palestine has been the focus of attention of many Western nations due to its strategic geo-political location and its religious significance. Thus its appropriation by a fellow Western ally is extremely valuable for Western political ‘relations’ that ultimately wish to maintain this part of the world as a continuous conflicted one rather than returning it back to its rightful owners. One of the most iconic symbols of Palestinian resistance is the freedom fighter Leila Khaled, a woman who fought and keeps fighting for its independence. Her portrait from the 70’s with
SHOOTING IN AN OCCUPIED CITY INÊS VALLE
“I had two choices: resist or resist, but I have chosen to fight with art” - these are words that define Khaled Jarrar’s life purpose, a commitment to a cause that unveils an unfair and perverted power structure. We may find many definitions of what an artist is or what is the purpose of art, but undoubtedly as Mark Getlein pointed out, is through art that we are able to create places for the human determination, allowing us to refresh our vision and helping us to apprehend the world in a new perspective.
In every rebellion is to be found the metaphysical demand for unity, the impossibility of capturing it, and the construction of a substitute universe. This also defines art. The demands of rebellion are really aesthetic demands. Albert Camus in The Rebel Imagine calling “home” a place that does not appear on the political map; with no legal rights, no sovereignty or control over its land and natural resources, where you cannot rely on security or political forces to protect or defend your rights as citizen. Can you imagine living in such occupied land?
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aÂ keffiyeh, a Kalashnikov and a bullet ring became an iconic image of this resistance. This small adornment was reproduced by Jarrar in 2011, selecting it as a symbol of his people and a reminder of a dream that should never die in any Palestinian heart. In 1993, with the end of the first Intifada and the Oslo Accords, its fighters returned not only as Palestinian soldiers but also with a dream of the legal recognition of a Palestinian nation. These accords are questionable, as it can ultimately be seen as another Israeli strategy to gain control over Palestinian territory. The Palestinian Authority (PA) recruits and trains a police force with paramilitary capabilities, however is not permitted to have a military force. Israel controls much of its decision-making, namely its size, structure and armament. How is it that the nation that provoked the displacement of another has now control over their security forces? And what is the point of the occupied land having soldiers if they do not have any authority? Khaled Jarrar, a former bodyguard of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, has been scrutinizing this crazy reality, focusing his art practice on questions of militarism combined with his daily life as citizen and artist in a utopian land. In his earlier works he deconstructs the idea of the Palestinian soldier within this geo-socio-political situation, and in his first solo-exhibition in Ramallah, Gently I press the trigger (2014), he goes further by using his military skills as a critical methodology that increasingly slackens a soldierâ€™s mentality and gets closer to a deeper and conscious discernment. This project was extremely complex, not only in terms of the access to the materials (bullets) but also the limitations in its execution. The fact that Jarrar was a soldier did not give him easy access to bullets. Unlike in the USA where access to semiautomatic assault rifles and ammunition are in the reach of
Western colonisation has reshaped the global geographical map. Analysing how the borders of ex-colonies were later defined after the withdrawal of these powerful empires is fascinating. Several ex-colonies are still struggling to secure their borders and in the 21st century these remain unstable territories. The British left several colonies still struggling to find a common ground among the ruins. The British Mandate for Palestine is one such example, with the UN Partition Plan for Palestine proposing a division of Palestine between Jewish and Arabs, leaving a city in between: Jerusalem. The impact of colonisation in the Arab word is staggering. The newly independent Arab states were delineated by the colonial powers, leaving the Arab world partitioned, demoralized, as a
Although Jarrar´s work exposes a political agenda that is intimately aligned with its territory and people, he states that his artworks are not political; rather a factual reflection of the daily environment. It’s impossible to destroy one system according to the logic of contradiction or through a return to the relationship between forces. Everything that is produced by contradiction, by the relationship between forces, by energy in general only returns to the systems and stimulates it.
Gently I press the trigger (2014) unfolds in the following sequence: 1st - Soldier: an authority figure that blindly follows orders; 2nd - Action requirements: shooting, a violent action, with the main purpose of killing; 3rd - Location: Ramallah, an occupied city; and 4th - Execution and materials: a white canvas, paint, a video camera and an armed artist inside a soundproof space. Jarrar inverts the roles and purposes of the military figure and its skills. As well as using them as a metaphor against occupation and the continuous oppression lived.
SHOOTING IN AN OCCUPIED CITY
any Walmart customer, here, each shot, each bullet is priceless.
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powerless collection of nation-states. However the impact of colonisation runs even deeper, as it remains in state ideologies, political visions, and institutions. “It was a manifestation of the historical continuity between a past from which the new states sought to distance themselves and their independent existences.”1With its division, the Western powers accomplished and assured its goal of domination, as it’s easier to manipulate several smaller and less powerful states. The Western world has had an active role in the definition and establishment of an Israel in Palestine, and has helped preserve the status quo in this region, by closing its eyes to acts of genocide and discrimination that started with the Nakba, and by continuing to deny Palestinians’ right to return to their own homes. It has become indisputable that Israel’s strategies are beyond territorial usurpation and one might assume that Israel’s goal is to erase any reminiscence of Palestine, as a place or a people. In April of 2009, in one of the many incursions justified to stop terrorism, Israeli troops devastated many cities and its infrastructures, including schools, theatres, radio stations and even the Palestinian Ministry of Culture’s building in Ramallah. Liana Badr, the director of the Palestinian Ministry of Culture, inquired the purpose of these cultural vandalisms or actions against the Palestinian people if not to destroy them as a nation and to erase them from the global memory map? In these circumstances, the role of artists like Khaled Jarrar, and many others chroniclers in the art field, is to keep reminding us of their own culture and find a way of resistance against cultural obliteration, because ‘the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting’2 . We shouldn’t ever forget that a country deprived of culture is a country without identity. 1 European Colonialism and the Emergence of Modern Muslim States, The Oxford History of Islam. 2 Kundera, Milan. in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, 1999.
Notices for East Auckland organic rubbish collection were issued in early February. It was time to clear out with the old. For my family the organic rubbish collection brought about a shared sense of appreciation for discarded objects.
It was lunchtime and it was time to pick up my little one from kindergarten. Next to the kindy is the parish house and on the front lawn was the parish organic rubbish. What caught my attention were the boxes full of books. I shifted through the boxes to find a book about the naturalist Charles Darwin, medical books, a dictionary of English idioms, an atlas of Japan, a book on African cichids, an encyclopaedia of animal life, and books about the discovery of Australia. There was also a torn up book on star alignment charts. I felt sad about the end of their life. Amongst the pile of books I managed to rescue, I found an origami book and within it there were folded papers with impressions of a frog, a lama, and a table already made. I loaded the car with all the books, another save from the organic rubbish collection. I thought I’d make a point to share this discarded information back home, a set of family activities waiting to be developed.
Organic trash, once desired, suffers in a society geared toward consumption. People consume to keep the economic balance in -check. The supply-and-demand nature of economic constructs, and the ideal of products having celebrity endorsements as visual signifiers within our psyche establishes a prominent form of relevance.
This sense of appreciation had been developed by my parents, mostly from my father. His ‘third eye’ for potential use of an object, outlasted by previous owners has given my father the ability to become creative. I have witness the transformation of organic products turn from rubbish into decorative pieces that would be displayed on top of the ukulele, the stereo, around the living room, and the family car.
In the social world of my home, things centre around the lounge and, in particular, the television set. My family time would involve the act of watching dramas, cartoons, documentaries and the news, to say the least. My passive time was spent in front of the television, trying to make sense of my own existence. In relation to the group of people I admire the most (my family) the television summoned the majority of our precious time, taking away the opportunity to spend time together. In an attempt to cease my familyâ€™s dependence on television I turned to those neglected books as a new subject for human connection. So far my family activities have involved reporting from the animal books, either drawing or presenting, which leads to trips to local parks and the analysis of the flora and fauna within our local environment. Origami night is always fun. We decorate our paper and share our thoughts around this new experience of family togetherness.
It is an initiative that inspired me to reflect upon what I know.
On the seventh day we all died.
On the third day we were baptised. We fled to the ocean and dunked ourselves in the name of God or The Universe or Ourselves or The Great Gig in the Sky or The Darkness or Death Itself or Life Itself and some of us just wanted to get wet. Purged, we sat on the land and I sang Johnny Angel and those who played instruments played them and we were a choir. My Nana held me and sang to me in Samoan le ele’ele ua le malie i vai. Everyone was singing a different song; a baby cried and a woman wailed and the Hare Krishnas’ chanted and it should’ve
On the fourth day we sat at the edge of the earth and I let my feet dangle off the horizon. I stared at the sun until it became black and then white again, going down, down, down. The moon showed her face, and the stars shined their brightest because that’s what stars do. We rinsed in the light and gave ourselves to it. We painted our faces black. We wanted to absorb it all. We wanted to be angels.
On the fifth day we killed the beasts with our hands. We burnt bonfires as big as cities. We threw whole cows onto them, headless chickens, families of sheep, whole tribes of horses, and we smelt of meat. We raped the sea, and cooked fish three ways. There were whole fatted calves and pigs on spits. We ate until our bellies were pregnant with death. We ate because we were empty. We ate because we were hungry.
On the sixth day we burnt the houses down and fucked for the last time. Some of us got drunk. Some of us let the night air chill our faces because we wanted to feel the end of the world in our bones. Some of us held hands. We were naked and small in our bodies. Light gleamed off our angles. I tasted your sweat, and imagined the taste of your flesh. At the end of the world we all wanted the lick of life on our tongues.
sounded like all hell had broken loose, but it didnâ€™t. We were humans on the third day.
On the second day we lit fireworks. We tried to crack the sky. Brothers aimed roman candles at the stars and at each other. It rained saltpetre and speckled light. We wanted someone to tell us why. We wanted to see the face of God in the sapphire sky. But all we saw were each otherâ€™s faces. Billions of little faces. Billions of brilliant colours. Billions of little gods. On the first day dawn woke us. I sat on the roof and below me Mum smoked John Player Specials from a red soft pack and drank milky coffee. Dad bummed a smoke and drank milkier tea and the cats fought. I stayed on the roof until dinnertime, breathing, blinking. That night we watched TV for five hours straight and nobody wanted to sleep so we camped out in the lounge fighting our eyelids. Mum prayed. I just lay there in the dark, listening to breathing, counting breaths. How many do we have left?
Free For All is #500words' inaugural print journal. "What would you say if had the space to do so? What would you change? Where would you...
Published on May 13, 2015
Free For All is #500words' inaugural print journal. "What would you say if had the space to do so? What would you change? Where would you...