THE JOURNAL OF THEFULCRUM.AGENCY
Pivot ISSUE 00
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Late Middle English: from French, probably from the root of dialect pue ‘tooth of a comb’ and Spanish pu(y) a ‘point’. The verb dates from the mid 19th century.
ÂŠ TheFulcrum.Agency 2019 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be produced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publishers and copyright holders. TheFulcrum.Agency PO Box 671 Fremantle 6959 Western Australia ISBN 978-0-6485481-0-2 Printed in Australia by Discus on Demand TheFulcrum.Agency Team Emma Williamson Co-Founder / CEO Kieran Wong Co-Founder / Principal Nick Juniper Associate Principal Emma Brain Head of Communications Sarah Besly Associate Heather MacRae Associate Akira Monaghan Brad Wetherall Claire White Michael Gay Creative Direction & Design Mark Braddock Project Management Tanya Sim
Photo: Bo Wong
OUR PIVOT In recasting our business, we have had the opportunity to open up a conversation about where we want to place our energy, how we want to spend our time and where we want to make an impact. One of the things that came up quickly was our shared desire to create a platform for conversation. Conversation that exposes different approaches and views on how we interact with the built environment and offers commentary on issues of social justice, education, equity, art, culture and architecture. This journal is the start of that conversation. In each edition we want to invite contributors to help us unpack their experience or reflect on their work as it relates to a specific theme. Perhaps because of recent experience and the journey of starting something new, we’ve decided to centre the first edition around the idea of the ‘pivot.’ ‘Pivot’ is an old word but with new significance. In the brash, confident world of Silicon Valley, it has come to refer to the need to adapt and iterate, and to shift the experience into new, more positive territory. In short, it is a word that turned failure into a rite of passage for the innovator and made it a strength rather than a weakness. It celebrates those that are not afraid, those that are open to change, are agile and resilient. It alludes to moving at pace, being willing to change direction but keep momentum. It rejects the idea of losing face. Kieran and I have worked together for more than two decades now. In that time, I have come to appreciate that we spur each other on and make each other brave in the face of change. We have been bold in building our working life around our shared values. With the benefit of hindsight, the bigger changes have happened in roughly five year intervals—that was until last year when we picked up a bit of speed and made a radical shift from large practice to small after only 18 months.
With the reinvention of our practice life came the opportunity to define what it means to be an architect—where we think we can position ourselves to have the greatest effect. We want to use our time wisely and enjoy the collaborative process. As our careers have evolved, our appreciation of the breadth of skills of an architect has deepened. The impact of buildings on our environments cannot be understated but nor can the processes and decisions that have led to the point of building. Architecture is a far bigger process than we originally thought. Consider, the capacity for true collaboration with so many people who are not architects. The capacity to really listen to what they are saying about our past and our future. We embrace the idea of a problem becoming bigger before we can work toward an answer. We think of this as a unique skill that comes from design thinking. We have had the great benefit of support from our profession, our staff, family and friends as we have travelled (and pivoted) through practice. Many have been on this journey with us for several years and we are deeply grateful and indebted to you all. In this issue we were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and speed with which people agreed to be part of our next bold adventure. Either through their conscious decision-making or for reasons outside of their control, each contributor has in some way engaged in something of a pivot. We hope that you enjoy the read.
Kieran Wong and Emma Williamson Co-Founders, TheFulcrum.Agency
On ‘Pivot’ 01 of 06 Tim Horton
Fourth World Problems
For designers trained to believe they are the creators of solutions, sometimes it takes a while to realise that you can, unwittingly, become part of the problem. It can be a startling realisation that the very model and assumptions you have been working under need to be completely re-thought.
This photo-essay is the result of a collaboration between photographer Bo Wong and designer Rose Megirian. Relic explores the output of contemporary Western Australian designers and makers with a new eye.
The first victim of Australia’s Section 44 Crisis, Scott Ludlam had served nine years in the Australian Parliament and was the Deputy Leader of the Greens when he was forced to resign after discovering he was, unknowingly, a joint-citizen.
Fourth World Problems is both a reflection of practice and a rethinking of the way in which we, as well-meaning emissaries from the First World, approach working with Indigenous clients.
Having had a major career change forced upon him, interviewer Meri Fatin discovers that Ludlam, while far from the spotlight, has been far from idle. They discuss the current state of activism in an age of popularism and the process of self-reflection that has led to his upcoming book.
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Who Needs a Drink?
From scientist to designer to artist, Bruno Booth’s path has been one of twists and turns. Along the way, his work has become increasingly personal, dealing with how, as a person in a wheelchair, he navigates a world that has not been designed with individuals like him in mind.
Can racism and inequality be, quite literally, built into our society? Dr Liam Grealy explores the inherent violence of infrastructure exposed in post-Katrina New Orleans and the aftermath of Australia’s own ‘Flint, Michigan’ in Borroloola in the NT.
TheFulcrum.Agency CEO Emma Williamson explores the internal battle between idealism and pragmatism that is modern motherhood.
Through his most recent work at Melbourne’s experimental art space, Testing Grounds, Booth challenges us to see the built environment from his point-of-view.
What needs to be done to recognise and re-balance approaches to urban and community infrastructure which has traditionally been viewed as a series of objective and rational engineering feats devoid of prejudice and bias?
When career meets childrearing, the only certainty is that you’re going to get some of it wrong. With hindsight, Williamson goes through her greatest mis-hits, stage-by-stage.
Pivoting is a fact of modern life. The disintegration of traditional roles in our post-modern world means that we are constantly navigating unfamiliar waters, and the ability to change course rapidly to accommodate the unexpected, has become a vital life skill. Increasingly, the nimbleness provided by working collaboratively is the ‘oil’ that enables us to have the flexibility to pivot as needed. Such is the case with this very journal. We’ve managed to coax an incredible team of thinkers and doers together who have each contributed in their own way to fill these pages with stories of life in an age of change.
Dr Liam Grealy
Kieran spends much of his time working with Indigenous communities on Groote Eylandt, NT and Minjerribah, QLD seeking to improve quality of life through better housing and community infrastructure. He is a co-founder and Principal at TheFulcrum.Agency,
Liam completed his PhD at the University of Sydney in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies and is a prolific contributor to ideas and issues on infrastructure inequality, youth, preventative detention and the media. We were really pleased that Liam was able to share his writing with us.
Bo’s Instagram makes our hearts pang. Amongst images of art, design and people, she documents life in the coastal town of Denmark, WA. In this edition, Bo shares a photographic collaboration with Rose Megirian, pivoting around West Australian contemporary creative practice.
Who Needs a Drink? (page 56)
thefulcrum.agency Fourth World Problems (page 08)
Relic (page 20)
Emma is a co-founder and director of TheFulcrum.Agency. In addition to her love of design and architecture she has become passionate about the design of our workplace and how this plays into life balance for men and women.
We were so happy to welcome Emma as the Head of Communications at TheFulcrum.Agency. We take the credit for helping her develop her ‘unflappable style’. Over more than seven years we have put her through the wringer as she has supported and pulled off our crazy ideas. This is her most ambitious project and we can’t thank her enough for coming on board. She has consistently critiqued and contributed to every aspect of this endeavour.
As a co-founder and Creative Director at Block Branding, Mark was the one who pushed us into the magazine game in the first place! Mark has worked tirelessly to get us across the line creating the right feel for the journal within a ridiculously tight time frame.
thefulcrum.agency Motherhood Statements (page 70)
Rose is the other half of the duo behind Relic and the person behind Many Peaks Assembly, an independent studio producing handcrafted clothing, jewellery, art and design objects. We love and are motivated by her adage to buy less and buy better.
We first spotted Bruno’s work at a group show in 2016 and his piece A nod to the 90’s (made in the 80’s) hangs behind one of our desks. Bruno uses painting, sculpture, video and installation to represent his experiences of using a wheelchair.
We took one look at Meri’s by-line, ‘ask good questions and let people talk’ and knew she was the writer for us. For the debut edition of The Fatin Tapes, Meri interviews Scott Ludlam and dissects his pivot from activist parliamentarian to activist author.
Relic (page 20)
Becoming Bruno (page 46)
Scott Free (page 30)
Discovering the work of Ash has been one of the many highlights of making this magazine! Based in Perth, Ash is a freelance illustrator known for his pastel palette and pop-art style. You can see more of his work or buy yourself something of his here:
With her colour-drenched, playful style, we knew that Sofia was the right person to illustrate Scott Ludlam in the wild, surrounded by his forest friends. Sofia is based in Perth and uses everything from watercolours through to digital manipulation to create her vibrant images.
Behind every publication sits a masterful spreadsheet. Tanya is a co-founder and Director at Block Branding and oversees its management. She brought her business nous and gentle persistence to this journal and it’s fair to say things wouldn’t have run so smoothly without her.
sofiavarano.com Scott Free (page 30)
Fourth World Problems Words by Kieran Wong
Politics, bureaucracy and a misguided push for innovation inhibit empowerment and reconciliation in Indigenous communities. In this article, first published in Architecture Australia, TheFulcrum.Agency co-founder Kieran Wong explores the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;seagull effectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and the failings inherent in the procurement process for essential work in remote communities.
ver ten years ago, at the height of the resources boom in Western Australia, TheFulcrum.Agency co-founder Emma Williamson and I started to work regionally and remotely across Western Australia. Our work focused on two areas—small community and health projects and the development of state government-sponsored design guides and handbooks. These handbooks aimed to identify and retain the character of townships, settlements and outstations in the face of the overwhelming onslaught of development that resulted from the resources boom. Through this work we formed relationships with Indigenous organisations and PIVOT
We are labelled ‘seagulls’: white beings that fly in, make a lot of noise, shit on everything and fly away again.
communities, working collaboratively to deliver projects ranging from land subdivision to community buildings, offices and health clinics. Since then we have worked with four different Indigenous communities in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, each within two kilometres of a major tourism destination. Incredibly, these ‘one-mile’ communities are without access to running scheme water, sewerage treatment or reliable power. These conditions are the remnants and reserves of institutionalised racism that survive today.
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Karratha Central Healthcare designed by CODA (2016) provides broad-spectrum healthcare to Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in the Pilbara city of Karratha. Photo: Peter Bennetts
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Kieran Wong is currently working in Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory, improving community infrastructure and housing for the local communities.
Visitors pay for a holiday ‘on Country’ without realising their nearest neighbours are living without basic amenity
Each community is adjacent to homes and tourist resorts in which visitors pay top dollar for a holiday ‘on Country’ without realising their nearest neighbours are living without basic amenity. These communities are living in the Fourth World, a term coined by Canadian First Nations leader George Manuel in 1974 to describe Indigenous peoples who live in First World nations but are excluded and marginalised from mainstream advantage and opportunity. We tread a challenging tightrope as First World consultants, working and walking alongside our clients in the Fourth. This walk is more like a dance between two ways of seeing the world. The tensions and opportunities inherent in this dance have created much of the PIVOT
meaning our work has sought to explore. These challenges take many forms as our growing awareness and understanding of working in remote and regional Indigenous communities deepens. _____ I am not a seagull … Working in communities post-native title determination, often with leaders who are key to maintaining ceremonial and sacred life, is a distinct challenge for us westernized middle-class professionals. How can we relate to the vast array of cultural and familial obligations, nationhoods, resettlement patterns, stolen generations and collective and intergenerational trauma? The paradox is one of striving to do good through a model of ‘community development’ when we
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The MG/GT Administration Building in Kununurra, Western Australia designed by CODA and Mark Phillips Architect (2013) services two Indigenous organisation in the wider Kimberley region. Photo: Peter Bennetts
are labelled ‘seagulls’: white beings that fly in, make a lot of noise, shit on everything and fly away again. The contradiction of maintaining an anti-racist position while working within regimes, systems and procurement models that can only be considered colonising is exhausting to motivation. As author Kim Mahood has articulated, ‘… the most highly skilled and scrupulous people are hollowed out by the effects of this contradiction.’ _____ Keeping clients alive The reality of the unacceptable health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is keenly felt when working with communities that can have an average life expectancy as low as 52. Not so many years ago I had the privilege of working with an articulate leader and traditional PIVOT
owner my own age. His untimely death at the age of 42 was tragic and profound. It created a leadership void, ongoing trauma in the community and significant disruptions to the delivery of his organisation’s project. Our current work in the Groote Archipelago in the Northern Territory is punctuated with constant ‘sorry business’ (social practices that follow the death of a community member) and the elastic responses required as relatives arrive, and houses, cars and boats are vacated to await the smoking ceremony that helps spirits to be sung out and onwards. _____ The challenges of innovation We have read dozens of auditor’s reports arguing (with eye-glazing similarity) that Indigenous projects, programs and partnerships have resulted in suboptimal Fourth World Problems 13
Is there another way forward that doesn’t solely use the ‘rational’, Westernised economic development model to empower communities? PIVOT
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Karratha Central Healthcare designed by CODA (2016). Photo: Peter Bennetts
outcomes because of poor design, delivery and review processes. Reports that assert recommendations to (yet again) improve local consultation, improve coordination between agencies, innovate in design and innovate in delivery. This innovate → neglect → crisis → rebuild → neglect cycle, which characterises much housing policy and funding for Indigenous communities, is a key challenge. It is the flawed model that architects and health professionals seeking to improve the most basic of requirements for living, a healthy house, encounter again and again. We must stop innovating through novelty as this supports a system that is essentially designed for failure. Instead we must continue to advocate for evidence-based models of quality design and delivery and robust maintenance practices, as championed through PIVOT
A political system designed to support and feed an ever-burgeoning bureaucracy places emphasis on the new, the quick and the initial cost.
the work of Health Habitat, Tangentyere Design and many others. _____ Of politics These challenges are, at their heart, political. The rhetoric of ‘better design practices for healthy housing’ slips easily off the tongues of politicians, but can so easily disappear in the complex and exhausting chains of middle-management tasked to deliver it. Working within a political system designed to support and feed an ever-burgeoning bureaucracy places emphasis on the new, the quick and the initial cost, and diminishes the value of life cycles, incremental and evolutionary improvement and community-led feedback loops. Fourth World Problems 16
01 of 06 Tim Horton Commissioner Land & Environment Court of NSW Sydney lec.justice.nsw.gov.au
The MG/GT Administration Building in Kununurra, Western Australia designed by CODA and Mark Phillips Architect (2013). Photo: Peter Bennetts
_____ Of land, right? In our work with the Quandamooka community on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island, Queensland) we’ve experienced the effects of recent native title determinations and the striking political strength of traditional owners, who have been bruised and pilloried by ‘locals’ during the process. Native title and land title tension between third-generation holiday-makers and a culture built over millennia simply adds to the generational trauma. Rather than building bridges between community members, it can result in fractured opportunities to work together across boundary lines of freehold and reserve lands. _____ … and ‘action’! One of the greatest challenges lies in procurement processes that are predicated on the rhetoric of the right ‘action’ words, yet fail to deliver meaningful change or actual outcomes. The neoliberal development patterns, PIVOT
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There are two ways to think of a pivot: both as a verb—an act; a change in direction—and a noun; a shaft (yes, or fulcrum) around which something spins. I prefer the noun as a way of describing my own path through architecture because, what might seem to be abrupt leaps from practice (Public Works cadet, Lahz Nimmo, JPW, Hassell); to policy (advising a South Australia premier on design, planning and development); to regulation (policing professional standards from the Registrar’s seat); and now planning law (as a Commissioner of the Land and Environment Court), has felt more like regular oscillations around a fixation with the profession’s relationship with the external forces that give it shape. But the initial push in to this different orbit was a mid-week phone call one morning in Adelaide in 2010 that went something like, ‘It’s Wendy from the Premier’s office—will you take a call from the Premier?’ Twenty-four hours later I’d resigned from Hassell and been appointed as a Commissioner.
Organisations struggle with ‘corporate knowledge’ and the never-ending bureaucratic processes designed to ‘build capacity’.
project management processes and derisked delivery models espoused by governments and private consulting firms must be reimagined. Time and again we have seen Indigenous organisations struggle with ‘corporate knowledge’ and the never-ending bureaucratic processes designed to ‘build capacity.’ We need a model that is the right fit culturally and commercially, and one that can be led by Indigenous communities. It may be difficult to imagine this alternative model, given that the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s most basic proposition of a Makarrata Commission can be neither understood nor supported by our government. For us, this is emphatic evidence that current systems are not geared to facilitate and celebrate Indigenous organisations, native title holders and owners of culture, story and country. This is one of the reasons we seek to work directly with traditional owner groups, post-native title determination, on their own country and on their own projects. Unfortunately though, this work is not always on their own terms. Why not? Because the strings tied to funding, land release and the ‘economic transition strategy’ require the use of standardised bureaucratic processes and conventional project management and milestones. Government briefs set targets and outcomes that can be identified within electoral cycles. It is impossible to resist the colonising effects of these kinds of procurement processes. PIVOT
What then of the future, the possibility inherent in community as more and more post-native title determination communities are recognised, formed, re-formed, imagined and projected? Is there another way forward that doesn’t solely use the ‘rational’, Westernised economic development model to empower communities? We are optimists—our work is always imagined in a (brighter) future. We imagine Australia as a Fourth World in which this is not a pejorative term denoting marginalisation, disempowerment and despair, but rather one describing, as the Uluru Statement from the Heart states, ‘a fuller expression of our nationhood’. It is a country of empowerment and reconciliation, truthful and open to Indigenous voices. Getting there will require political maturity, genuine reconciliation and a collective re-casting and reimagining of the postcolonial, neoliberal malaise that got us here in the first place. We dream of this place. Where our country, it’s continuous narrative and ongoing human relationships intersect to create a new way—our Fourth Worlds, teaching us to walk together and transform the First.
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02 of 06 Prof Sarah McGann Dean, School of Arts & Sciences Notre Dame University Fremantle notredame.edu.au
References Commonwealth of Australia, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Remote Housing Review: A review of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing and the Remote Housing Strategy (2008-2018), pmc.gov.au/sites/default/ files/publications/review-of-remote-housing.pdf. See ‘Part 4.5: Over the course of the Strategy many lessons were learned (or re-learned).’ These challenges and the self-fulfilling process is eloquently outlined by Tess Lea in Bureaucrats and Bleeding Hearts: Indigenous Health in Northern Australia, UNSW Press, August 2008. Uluru Statement from the Heart, presented at the First Nations National Constitutional Convention, May 2017, referendumcouncil.org.au/sites/default/files/2017-05/Uluru_ Statement_From_The_Heart_0.pdf Kim Mahood, White Stigma, The Monthly, August 2015, themonthly.com.au/issue/2015/ august/1438351200/kim-mahood/white-stigma (accessed 24 October 2018). ABS data in 2014 revealed that people living in very remote parts of the Northern Territory were only expected to live until 52.2 years of age, while people living in remote areas had life expectancy of 62.6 years of age. The life expectancy for very remote Territorians was more than 10 years behind the Australian average of 63.9. Jill Poulsen, ABS stats show life expectancy in Territory years behind the rest of Australia, NT News, 17 November 2014, ntnews.com.au/news/northern-territory/abs-statsshow-that-life-expectancy-in-territory-years-behind-rest-of-australia/news-story/ e5cc22869faf11ea9cadf989e620b6f4 (accessed 24 October 2018). See figure 9 in Tess Lea and Paul Pholeros, This is Not a Pipe: The Treacheries of Indigenous Housing, Public Culture 22, March 2010. researchgate.net/ publication/249879335_This_Is_Not_a_Pipe_The_Treacheries_of_Indigenous_Housing (accessed 24 October 2018). Kieran Wong, We need to stop innovating in Indigenous housing and get on with Closing the Gap, The Conversation website, 31 May 2018, theconversation.com/ we-need-to-stop-innovating-in-indigenous-housing-and-get-on-with-closing-thegap-96266 (accessed 24 October 2018). Commonwealth of Australia, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Remote Housing Review: A review of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing and the Remote Housing Strategy (2008-2018), pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/ publications/review-of-remote-housing.pdf. See Part 4.5: Over the course of the Strategy many lessons were learned (or re-learned).
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An architect, a lawyer and accountant walk into a bar. The bartender looks at the three women and says, ‘So, who’s in charge here?’ Reflecting on my pivoting career—as architect/educator/ researcher/leader—I return to the opening lines of my recent book chapter in Visual Spatial Enquiry, (Creagh and McGann 2019). An important pivot-point for me has been to question who is ‘in charge’ of our built environment and where the role of responsible stewardship and strategic decision-making sits. I am convinced that building design, good and bad, has a causal effect on the social patterns of the people that live, work and occupy, or are excluded from, our built environments. Looking back, and projecting forward, the pivot upon which I rest and turn is the strategic agility and critical thinking first fostered in my architectural education and now employed in research and leadership.
Relic A cross current is at play in Western Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s art and design landscape. Relic is the first in a series of images by Bo Wong and Rose Megirian, celebrating the creatives who are compelled to experiment, explore and pivot in their creative process, unbound by a particular medium. Anchored by the central themes of their own unique practice, each artist exemplifies agility and defiance in their fearless explorations.
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Previous spread: Peter Frank Milligan, Counterpoint Lamp, 2015, stoneware base, carbon fibre rod, spun aluminium shade. Peter Frank Milligan, Wheel Thrown Bowl, 2016, glazed stoneware.
lare Peake, Chalice, 2015, air-dry clay, acrylic paint.
Rose Megirian, Great Worth, 2016, blackened sterling silver, precious and semi-precious stones, fresh water and south sea pearls.
Tom Freeman, Glory Glory, 2017, glazed stoneware.
Tom Freeman, Hanging Wire Dip (1 & 2), 2015, wire, acrylic paint.
Betty Poulsen, Sweet Fruits, 2016, indigo dyed linen, cotton thread, wool stuffing.
Sarana Haeata, Big Bertha, 2015, buff raku clay. John Prince Siddon, Mangkaja Arts, Totem Poles, 2017, found wood, plastic flowers, acrylic paint. Eunice Porter, Warakurna Artists, Untitled, 2014, reclaimed tin, acrylic paint. Tom Freeman, Three Loops on Top, 2016, air-dry clay, glue, glazed earthenware.
Carla Adams, Jacob (Just shut up and eat my Dick), 2017, polycord, cotton sash, acrylic yarn, cotton. Rose Megirian, Great Worth, 2016, blackened sterling silver. Betty Poulsen, Sweet Fruits, 2016, indigo dyed linen, cotton, wool stuffing.
Pete Reynolds, Sea Garden Sculptures, 2017, mouth blown glass
Far left page: Tom Freeman, Shiny Knobs, 2016, glass, glue and glazed earthenware. Tom Freeman, Small Wire Dip, 2016, wire, acrylic paint. Rose Megirian, Great Worth, 2016, blackened sterling silver, precious and semi-precious stones, fresh water and south sea pearls.
Top: Betty Poulsen, Taliswoman, 2014, lambswool, silk thread, wool stuffing. Above: Tom Freeman, Glory Glory, 2017, glazed stoneware (underside).
We’ve observed a cross-current at play in contemporary creative industries, a boundarylessness that does not identify with a particular medium or definitions and is instead, more interested in the intersections of design thinking and contemporary ‘making’ practice. We are exploring this exciting boundary shift, along with the rise of traditionally feminine craft in the art and design landscapes through Relic, a series of images celebrating creatives who we feel reflect this crossover of craft, design and art in Western Australia right now.
THE FATIN TAPES
Scott Words by Meri Fatin Illustration by Sofia Varano
Free In July 2017, Scott Ludlam resigned from the Australian Senate after he was made aware that he held joint Australian and New Zealand citizenship, rendering him ineligible to hold elected Federal office. Meri Fatin spoke to Scott about life since his very public career change and the potentials of contemporary activism.
_____ Meri Fatin [00:00:00 ] Scott, you’ve been away from Perth for well over a year. Where the bloody hell are you and what are you doing? _____ Scott Ludlam [00:00:10 ] (laughs) At the moment I’m camped up in southern New South Wales in a really beautiful part of the world, working on a book. I left Perth in January 2018 so it has been a little while. _____ Meri Fatin [00:00:23 ] And tell me about the book. _____ Scott Ludlam [00:00:27 ] Well it’s the first time I’ve ever tried to write anything longform and I spent nearly all of last year travelling around the world talking to social justice organisers, peace activists,
ery few, if any, of us will experience as a dramatic turning-point in our personal or professional lives as that which Scott Ludlam experienced. As the public spectacle surrounding the ‘Citizenship Crisis’ has subsided, Scott’s commitment to the health of our planet and the conservation of our natural environment hasn’t wavered. He has, however, chosen to reassess the means by which he wishes to achieve those ends. PIVOT
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@scottludlam first light
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@scottludlam this place is turning me into a morning person
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03 of 06 Lisa Montgomery Principal, Place elementWA Perth elementwa.com.au
architects, journalists, Greens MPs and candidates from global Greens parties and I’m trying to synthesise that together into something that will hopefully be useful … even if it’s just useful for me. _____ Meri Fatin [00:00:55 ] So how did the book come about? _____ Scott Ludlam [00:01:04 ] I was approached to write something and then I made a suggestion that it be something along these lines and they were like okay, sounds crazy, go do it. _____ Meri Fatin [00:01:12 ] So how would you best summarise it then? _____ Scott Ludlam [00:01:25 ] I guess what I’m most interested in is how social movements and political processes deliver change—or don’t. You know, we’re at a really important moment in history where, unless we’re able to unlock political power, the twenty-first-century is going to be a very dark place. Unless we’re able to mobilise on a scale that we simply haven’t seen for a while then we’re going to cop the full force of climate change and all of the political and economic consequences of that. So, what I’m interested in, I suppose, are the kind of historical and contemporary ways in which social movements and political machineries either deliver change or are used to prevent it. _____ Meri Fatin [00:02:18 ] When you talk about mobilising, what would you regard as sufficient mobilising to actually generate some change now? _____ Scott Ludlam [00:02:28 ] So, a mobilisation that wasn’t successful was the campaign undertaken by millions of people in 2002 and 2003 to prevent the invasion of Iraq. That’s an example of a mobilisation that was enormous, it gathered pace very fast. History has proven that we were absolutely right to do that and that we didn’t institutionalise any kind of outcome. The invasion still went ahead. It was clearly unlawful under international law and it cost hundreds of thousands of people their lives. And so I’m interested in mobilisations that hit critical mass and are able to push over an outcome, whether it be the Arab Spring uprising in Tunisia where a dictator was toppled and now a democracy PIVOT
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Pivoting is about being brave and showing courage—putting yourself and your ideas forward, asking questions, being curious, doing new things, treading a different path, carving a niche, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Life is full of pivotal moments; some are big and life changing, and others are small and might seem insignificant—but often aren’t. For me the big moments have included changing careers (about five times), starting several businesses, learning how to take care of myself and live in the present, becoming a mum and learning how to do that and other things at the same time. The small and meaningful pivot points happen when I slow down and take time to really hear people, stop trying to have all the answers all the time, work up the courage to talk to someone new, or make space to re-connect with me.
I guess wha interested i social move and politic deliver cha PIVOT
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t i’m most n is how ments al processes nge —or don’t. PIVOT
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Mainstream politics has completely failed to deliver an outcome and so hundreds of thousands of students have taken it upon themselves.
exists or, you know, the interesting kind of processes and success of the Occupy movement from 2011. What can we learn from movements around the world? One interesting expression at the moment are the children striking against climate change. They’ve read the paralysis and they’ve taken action without asking for permission and it’s a really, really interesting development. _____ Meri Fatin [00:03:41 ] You’ve talked about how that kind of activism with kids involved is a new challenge for the establishment. _____ Scott Ludlam [00:03:50 ] Well it clearly is. It’s caught the establishment completely wrong-footed and I mean in this country the establishment isn’t simply preventing climate action, it seems to be trying to accelerate it (climate change). It’s trying to accelerate the worst kind of climate consequences imaginable by hanging onto coal and in accelerating onshore and offshore gas extraction. Mainstream politics has completely failed to deliver an outcome and so hundreds of thousands
of kids from primary school, high school and uni students have just taken it upon themselves. I don’t think the establishment has any idea what to make of it. _____ Meri Fatin [00:04:40 ] And also, the establishment is still, to some degree, trying to ask the general population to turn a blind eye to what these catastrophic consequences might be. Would you describe what you see transpiring that is so alarming? What you believe is an actual reality, say over the next 20 to 50 years? _____ Scott Ludlam [00:05:08 ] I think unless we’re able to change course dramatically, what we’re going to see over the next couple of decades is the age of climate disasters, super storms, droughts, fires, heatwaves and so on that we’re already seeing with less than one degree of average warming. And what that does, is it pushes people across borders. It accelerates the breakup of fragile states and ultimately it starts to inundate coastal sediments and destroy agricultural regions. There’s no real precedent for that on a global scale.
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04 of 06 Prof Diego Ramirez-Lovering Deputy Dean Art Design & Architecture, Monash University, Melbourne monash.edu.au
In 2006 I led a four-month study of Guadalajara, Mexico … my hometown. It began as an exploration of vernacular and utilitarian forms of architecture and their connection to social patterns. As the investigation deepened, there was an evolution in thinking from: We have no idea what that drives us into. Apart from that it’s unlikely to be very good. _____ Meri Fatin [00:06:11 ] In these conversations that you spent last year recording, was there any solace where you felt there was some genuine progress being made? Some sort of genuine movement being created that might actually offer some hope? _____ Scott Ludlam [00:06:27 ] Absolutely. Even in places where they’re really up against it, there’s hope. Not false or blind hope but hope with action and hope with a plan, all over the world. I was able to drop in on a conference of Young Greens from right across Europe, where these young people have grown up with climate change as a part of their lives, and the failure of political processes is also part of their lives. What they’re turning the green movement to in Europe is something incredibly exciting and very practical. Something that we can learn from. But then I’ve also spent some time in Jharkhand in the eastern part of India where campaigners are trying to prevent an expansion of uranium mining and the imposition of a huge steel smelter on their land. Their stories of struggle were just as inspiring, you know, opposite sides of the world working very different ends of the problem but incredible resourcefulness, courage … and some success. PIVOT
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what architecture is (as an object or series of objects) … to what it does (as a contributor to urban processes) … to urban processes as constituent parts of larger city systems … to the operation of city systems as complex combinations of the planned and the unplanned. This was a real pivot point—the beginning of a transition away from a practice focusing on objects toward a focus on systems and the messy realities of cities as complex assemblages of physical, social and economic structures. It was the start of a new direction- effecting processes of transformation for the informal cities of the Global South.
@scottludlam this coast
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If I thought that the only way to make a difference in the world was in Parliament, we would be in a very bad place indeed.
_____ Meri Fatin [00:07:49 ] Coming from the idea of mobilisation and asking you now with your activist hat on, what do you miss about being a parliamentarian? _____ Scott Ludlam [00:08:07 ] I think what I miss the most is having access to the kind of machinery (of Parliament) and particularly the team. It’s an incredibly talented and very motivated group of people that I’ve been privileged to work with. You have one foot inside the parliament building and then one foot in all the other campaigns and community groups and other kinds of things that you want to support or be able to provide some backup to. Being able to do that with a measure of resourcing and the levers and the machineries of Parliament is something that you can’t really place in other walks of life. _____ Meri Fatin [00:08:46 ] Do you feel that you can still make a difference from the outside though? It’s known that changes, big changes don’t happen from inside government. They happen with agitation from the outside.
_____ Scott Ludlam [00:09:01 ] Yeah, absolutely. And so that’s it. If I thought that the only way to make a difference in the world was in Parliament, we would be in a very bad place indeed. There’s only 76 Senators and 150 Members of the House of Representatives. We know what happens if we leave it up to them: we end up in the kind of trouble that we’re in. I think one really interesting recent example is the campaign for marriage equality where you saw very clearly the Parliament being the last place in the country to ‘get it’. All of the hard work got done by campaigners working as part of broader social movements and the government were the absolute last ones to get the memo. And that campaign was bruising and much harder than it needed to be because of the tactics that Malcolm Turnbull chose. But to my mind, it’s a really interesting recent example of how change comes from outside the building and then you get your allies in there to actually knock it through.
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Maybe the days of the really hardright white-male conservative just driving us down the drain—maybe those days are coming to an end.
_____ Meri Fatin [00:10:01 ] I want to go back again to these conversations that you’ve been having (for your book). You mentioned that you’ve been talking to architects amongst the people that you’ve spoken to. What kinds of conversations were you having with architects? _____ Scott Ludlam [00:10:15 ] I suppose in a way the work in Western Australia with the WA 2.0 Project and with the Transforming Perth work that we were doing just before I finished up, I wanted to work out how to continue that conversation and how that’s being read elsewhere in the world. Whether there’s more that we could do in that area. It was one of the most rewarding times and some of the most rewarding projects that I did while I was in office. So (the interviews were about) being able to see how these kinds of conversations are being had in other parts of the world. _____ Meri Fatin [00:11:03 ] And is there some agreement about the frustrations
that architects and designers have in being able to be involved in these projects from the earliest possible stage? Scott Ludlam [00:11:13 ] I guess it’s really difficult to generalise as most of my experience and learning in that area has come from the work that we were doing in Western Australia. In other parts of the world, the pattern is similar in the sense that architects, or designers more broadly are often forced to compromise (based) on issues of cost and on issues of economics. What we were trying to do in WA was to really turn that on its head, turn that around. Not that we were ignoring the financial consequences of what was possible but that we were putting people and the planet at the centre of what we were talking about. _____ Meri Fatin [00:12:06 ] That whole experience of creating the Transforming Perth report was really rewarding, as you say in the sense that you presented, based on stark choices, quite an ambitious vision and then asked for help in finding solutions.
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What are your recollections of that collaborative effort? _____ Scott Ludlam [00:12:28 ] Really that everybody brought something very interesting and valuable to the conversation. So we (The Greens) were bringing a policy perspective but also advocacy perspectives to the conversation. But I’m not an architect. I don’t have a background in that kind of design work. I don’t know the financial background. I suppose what we wanted to do was throw our hats over the wall and say what we are called upon to do at the moment is dramatically change the energy basis of industrial societies but also change how we get around, building materials that we use, spatial layout of cities … it’s an enormously ambitious agenda and we’re being asked to do it very rapidly. Collectively we’re quite a powerful political movement. And I think we’re seeing something at the moment. I think there’s a mood for a change of government in Australia which should never be taken for granted, but there’s also a mood for maybe breaking up the monopoly of the two parties and we’re seeing that not just in Labor-held seats falling to the
Greens, but Liberal-held seats in the inner cities. I think what happened in Wentworth is quite an instructive example that maybe the days of the really brutal hardline hard-right whitemale conservative just driving us down the drain—maybe those days are coming to an end. _____ Meri Fatin [00:35:20 ] Scott Ludlam, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for spending time with me today. _____ Scott Ludlam [00:35:24 ] Oh you’re very welcome. I really enjoyed that. _____ [END TAPE ]
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Les Demoiselles d’Avignon English The Ladies of Avignon Artist Pablo Picasso Year 1907 Medium Oil on canvas Dimensions 243.9 × 233.7 cm (96 × 92 in) Location Museum of Modern Art, New York
EVIL? GENIUS? FROM: MARK BRADDOCK DATE: TUESDAY, 26 MARCH 2019 AT 9:53 PM
FROM: EMMA WILLIAMSON DATE: TUESDAY, 26 MARCH 2019 AT 9:53 PM
FROM: MARK BRADDOCK DATE: SUNDAY, 31 MARCH 2019 AT 11:00 AM
FROM: KIERAN WONG DATE: SUNDAY, 31 MARCH 2019 AT 9:56 PM
… I have also added ‘image’ spreads that I am thinking could be a little bite that may be a visual or a quote or an interesting factoid—e.g. it could be a spread of the Picasso image with a caption talking about it as a pivot point for art and one of the first ‘modern’ paintings.
Emma B has pointed out that Picasso was a paedophile so it might be best to select another artist.
I think the Picasso image could be a very good illustration of a ‘double pivot’—the work’s place in a major pivot in Western Art, but then how our view of artists and their work is pivoting as a result of #metoo and other cultural shifts.
The Picasso piece is interesting, if we can write the right angle (I like the #metoo pivot).
FROM: EMMA BRAIN DATE: MONDAY, 1 APRIL 2019 AT 4:09 PM
FROM: EMMA WILLIAMSON DATE: WEDNESDAY, 3 APRIL 2019 AT 5:21 PM
FROM: MARK BRADDOCK DATE: FRIDAY, 5 APRIL 2019 AT 11:45 AM
Re: Picasso, I like the idea of linking it to the #metoo movement. Feels timely given the debate about whether it’s still acceptable to broadcast Michael Jackson’s music etc. This is a good article on the matter—https:// www.good.is/features/ museums-address-artists-after-metoo
I have read the #metoo article and it’s interesting —has anyone else? I guess I’m just worried it could be a can of worms … but you know—what isn’t!
I think that can is already open and I really like that in the one piece of art there is so much that has ‘pivoted’. The whole issue is vexed which makes it interesting to me.
Would be good to get a feeling from the crowd on how we address the image and if we should try to get this article reprinted?
Picasso was not nice to women (to put it mildly) but to label him a ‘paedophile’ is a massive claim to make without a lot of evidence. Also looking to diagnose an artist via their work is extraordinarily fraught—artists explore a lot in their works that they don’t necessarily ‘support’. I don’t understand what point they are trying to make by pointing out that the models in the Picasso piece are prostitutes and that he started frequenting brothels at 13? Artists’ models were nearly exclusively also prostitutes for centuries.
And when does this sort of thinking lead to slut-shaming young women and outright censorship, as happened to Bill Henson and Sally Mann? Is adolescent sexuality not to be explored in art at all? The artist used ‘to be dead’, but now there is no way that the viewer’s relationship to the piece cannot be influenced by the knowledge of this sort of information. It does change (pivot?) the meaning. Michael Jackson, Chuck Close, and many, many more. But what doesn’t change is the fundamental role that Les Demoiselles d’Avignon had in changing how artists viewed the world—the influence can’t be undone.
Story Title 46
Bruno Booth studied science, and then he studied design, and then he became a street artist, and then his art started to find a home within the walls of galleries. At each stage of his artistic evolution, his work has become more personal, more deeply rooted in his experience of the world from the perspective of someone in a wheelchair. With his breakout installation Hostile Infrastructure at Melbourneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Testing Grounds, Bruno now asks that you, too, suffer (a little at least) for his art.
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Becoming Bruno Photos: Keelan Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Hehir
I started my career in the arts soon after turning 30. I studied Graphic Design at TAFE with the idea that I would work in the industry after I graduated. Again, the best laid plans have a habit of being derailed by life.
When Emma asked me to write an article for TheFulcrum.Agency’s new journal, we talked about how my practice has pivoted from illustrative graphics to participatory installations. In particular she was interested in how I’ve managed to translate my skills as a painter into producing my current work.
Studying design introduced me to the world of contemporary art; grand ideas, personal narratives and a desire to communicate experiences. I went to exhibitions, attended artist talks and before I knew what was going on, I had changed direction again.
Although it looks like I’ve made a radical shift, to me it feels like an extension of what I’ve been doing my whole life. I’ve tried many different things and have had three seemingly distinct careers, but really, they’re all related.
It’s true that the work I’m making now is a departure from what I was making a few years ago, but to me it feels like an organic change. My work now is all about disability, the way people perceive it and the experiences that are awarded to me as a result of seeing the world a bit differently. All the jobs that I’ve done, people I’ve met and sub-cultures that I’ve been a part of feed into my practice.
I grew up in a small village in Lancashire. There wasn’t much to do there apart from get into trouble, ride motorbikes (an enjoyable way to get into trouble), go camping if the weather permitted or hang out at friends’ houses getting high and listening to music. It was here that I decided I was going to become a famous musician. I was going to learn to play guitar/learn to rap, form a band with my mates, play our first gig and then decide to sign a record deal with EMI or DefJam.
Yes, my work has pivoted, but I don’t see what I’m doing now as an end point at all. I fully expect to pivot again—the one thing I don’t know is when this will happen or what I’ll be doing next. I’ve always liked food so maybe I’ll start my own quince paste empire—who knows?
Things didn’t go exactly to plan. I never managed to get that major label deal, but music taught me to be creative, appreciate patterns and gave me a wealth of life experience. What it didn’t give me was a way to support myself, so in my early-twenties I made a conscious decision and changed direction. My second love was Evolution. Learning about Darwinism and natural selection at university was a trip. The idea that every living thing—including the chickens in my garden, the trees out my window and the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park—are the product of an impossible number of tiny, accidental changes over millennia had me hooked. I did two degrees in the Sciences and ended up working as a hydro-geologist, a pivot that I had not intended and work that I didn’t really enjoy. So, I decided, once again, to make a change.
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Hostile Infrastructure is a participatory installation that invites people into the world as experienced by those in wheelchairs. It is a viceral demonstration of how much of the built environment is uncomfortable or outright inaccessible for those with physical disabilities.
Becoming Bruno 50
Photos: Keelan Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Hehir
Bruno Booth, Hostile Infrastructure, 2019, Testing Grounds, Melbourne.
‘I go places, I judge the space, and I think,“This’ll be fine, there’s a step there, but this looks surmountable,” but then I get there, and suddenly it isn’t.’ _____ Bruno Booth quoted on Broadsheet.com.au
Becoming Bruno 51
Becoming Bruno 52
Photos: Keelan Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Hehir
Participants are encouraged to navigate in a wheelchair through a seemingly innocuous corridor structure. As they wheel down the brightly hued tunnel under pulsating neon lighting, the space narrows slowly, making for an increasing uncomfortable, claustrophobic experience. An experience that has resulted in more than a few scraped and bloodied knuckles as hands are caught between the chairâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wheels and the walls. Bandaids are provided as needed.
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Photo: Bruno Booth PIVOT
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‘The more I make work about [my disability], the more I’m asked about it. It’s nice. I like talking about it.’
_____ Bruno Booth quoted on Broadsheet.com.au
Becoming Bruno 55
The roads, pipes and wires that make up the infrastructure of our towns and cities arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t often considered to have moral dimension. But, as Dr Liam Grealy investigates, we are, quite literally, building inequality into our urban fabric.
Who Need PIVOT
Story Title 56
s a Drink?
Words by Dr Liam Grealy Painting by Jacky Green
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Pump Station 2, New Orleans
n August 2017, ten inches of rain over four hours led to days of flooding in central New Orleans—from the Seventh Ward to Tremé to Mid-City to Lakeview. City officials claimed the pump system was working but that rain outstripped capacity. Subsequent revelations of a power-station control-panel fire offered a partial explanation for the drainage failure. Three of the five turbine generators that power New Orleans’ 120 pumps were already down for maintenance, and with one on fire, just one was left to manage the downpour. Sixteen of the pumps were also down, despite contrary initial reports, for which senior Sewerage and Water Board and Public
Works Department staff were quickly asked to resign. A ritual sacking provided a swift and visible response to the more complex infrastructural challenges of managing subterranean ‘vibrant matter’.1 Situated on drained former swampland, below (a rising) sea level, sinking, and adjacent to the disappearing protective wetlands of the Louisiana Gulf Coast, living with water is the perennial challenge of the crescent city. Every storm season, flooding elicits memories of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when the repeatedly-predicted failure of the US Army Corps of Engineers’ ‘city of walls’2—that is, levees, embankments, floodwalls, and other rigid barriers—came to fruition. Technocratic explanations for the levee failure, offered in a progressivist vein to promote further construction, elide
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Eviction in the Seventh Ward, New Orleans
Social infrastructures had been razed and replaced by foreclosure, eviction, gentrification, and short-term rentals for the tourist economy.
the complexly entangled negligence of regulatory, maintenance, planning, and disaster recovery regimes. They also discount historical explanations for the former and ongoing racialisation of infrastructural risks, such as access to high ground, the geography of redlining, federal compensation programs, and insurance determinations bearing on who was able to return post-disaster. When the 2017 floods arrived, the demography of some of America’s oldest black neighbourhoods had already shifted: social infrastructures had been razed and replaced by foreclosure, eviction, gentrification, and short-term rentals for the tourist economy. Eight months later, in Australia’s top end, the remote community of Borroloola faced its own man-made hydrological catastrophe. Indigenous residents called on the Northern
Territory Department of Health in April 2018 to blood-test community members following water samples revealing elevated levels of lead and manganese in the drinking water supplies of town camps. Glencore’s nearby McArthur River Mine had previously confessed to poisoning cattle and fish via zinc and lead leached from its dumpsite, generating suspicion over its ongoing role in contaminating local water systems. As Jacky Green narrates in Yee-haw, Money Trucks (2017)3, ‘They take wealth from our country, leaving behind a huge open cut pit and toxic waste rock pile for us to clean up.’
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A New Water Treatment Plant, Borroloola
In this recent instance, the Department of Health and the government-owned Power and Water Corporation suggested the contamination occurred between the bore and the tap, with corroded brass fittings in the camps’ internal reticulation systems a likely cause. The extensively detailed Town Camps Review (2017) had already recommended urgent upgrades to the camps’ water infrastructure. Yet with assessments made without subterranean investigation, and with incomplete historical records, just what’s down there, when it was installed, and who’s responsible for it, remains opaque. It was almost two months before residents in Garawa One camp were advised the water was again safe to drink, with the Department of Health noting that ‘the problem … was more complicated than originally thought’.
Community members know all too well that having such issues investigated is hard fought, requiring sustained protest and advocacy in the face of multiple pressing issues that demand their attention. In October 2018 a new water treatment plant was opened in Borroloola, however further extensions are required to service housing on the east of the McArthur River, including at Garawa One and Garawa Two camps. ‘It’s exhausting to create an event out of nothing’, says one of anthropologist Chloe Ahmann’s4 (2018) Baltimore informants about the difficulty of representing the cumulative effects of infrastructural slow violence. The distribution of both displacement for infrastructural development—think highway and ‘urban renewal’ projects—and risk of harm—
Who Needs a Drink? 60
05 of 06 Dylan Smith Founder & Executive Officer Fremantle Foundation Fremantle fremantlefoundation.org.au
In football, a switch or a pivot is a powerful move. It’s when the predictable movement of play is suddenly interrupted. Often by an act of daring or brilliance by one player. A sudden change of direction literally opens up time and space for that player and their team creating opportunities.
think waste dumps, chemical factories, and mine sites—are never demographically equal, but are instead central to the ongoing reenactments of settler-colonialism’s voracious appropriation of territory and capitalism’s serial frontiers of extraction and abandonment. Such geographies of governance are variously conceptualised by Evelyn Araluen as ‘cartographies of colonisation’ (20185; also see 20196), by Stephen Lerner7 (2010) as ‘sacrifice zones’, and by Elizabeth Povinelli8 (2011) as ‘economies of abandonment’. They are constituted, in part, by the extension (or not) of infrastructures, as ‘material forms that allow for the possibility of exchange over space’ (Larkin 2013)9. Of course, the construction, use, and maintenance of infrastructures can also dispossess, degrade, and disconnect. Most of the time, residents at the metaphorical and literal coalface of environmental and financial hazards lack a Hurricane Katrina, or a National Intervention, to spectacularly expose the slow-to-accrue cumulative toxicities of infrastructural failure. PIVOT
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It’s the best players, the most exciting and celebrated that can create these chances, sometimes, seemingly out of nothing. As if by instinct, they spin, weave or trick the other players. They move in a way that is unexpected. Often breathtaking. As a player, it takes courage to take a chance like this. There is a high degree of risk. The outcomes are unknown. You can be made to look silly. To be embarrassed. To have the crowd and the opposition ridicule you. But when you take a risk, when you pivot, you have the chance to create something special.
Facing the challenges of infrastructural inequalities requires responses that are equally creative, collective, critical, and technical. PIVOT
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Who Needs a Drink? 63
This is Where the Sidewalk Ends, Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans
Even when industrial disasters are major events (such as Union Carbide’s Bhopal disaster in 1984) their effects long outlast the cameras, the aid money, academic interest, and even the attention of community organisers overwhelmed by the demands of acute crises and new looming threats. The ongoing groundwater contamination at Bhopal signals what Nikhil Anand10 (2015) describes as ‘the work of ignorance in maintaining state institutions’: proof of harm, the designation of culpability, and eventually redress, first require investigation. Bringing the harms of infrastructural violence to light is always tough political work, and efforts to do so are confronted by reductionist interpretive habits, or cultural clichés. Poor health is explained by dietary and lifestyle choices, or the dilapidated remote community house signifies tenant
damage rather than, as the not-for-profit organisation Healthabitat has shown, a lack of routine maintenance and poor initial construction. We need to acknowledge that infrastructure is always in motion, ageing, and trending toward entropy. It is rarely ‘completed’, instability is its norm, and functionality requires constant attention: tinkering, fixwork, maintenance, replacement, patches, upgrades, and renovation. Such labour requires government resources, and monitoring and accountability systems that recognise the natural decline of infrastructures, rather than simply attributing breakdowns to users. The recent victory for public housing tenants in the Central Australian community of Santa Teresa—awarded compensation for the government’s failure to ensure their
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Infrastructure is always in motion, ageing, and trending toward entropy. homes were maintained to a habitable standard—shows the potential for redress via public litigation, but also the risks associated with asserting basic legal rights (including countersuits, administrative labour, insecure tenancy, and so on). Most readers of this essay can probably still take potable and plentiful tap water largely for granted. As many writers have conceived of infrastructure in general—that it becomes visible when it breaks down—so too are our expectations made apparent through disruption: an occasional boil water alert, for example. With a scarce commodity literally on tap, we can forget the already quotidian everyday realities of many global cities—Cape Town, Mumbai, and São Paulo
among them—variously characterised by water’s undersupply, privatisation, and rationing. This while future-focused fantasies of being overwhelmed by water and of water’s disappearance have become increasingly central to speculative dystopias in popular culture: of flooded worlds, desert wastelands, and ‘water knives’11. We should also direct our imaginations to how the right to water might be guaranteed under conditions of increasing scarcity. What political work is required to ensure the redistribution of this natural wealth from wasteful industries that benefit a small minority to serve the basic needs of everyone? Such imaginative work must contend with fantasies of water’s infinity facilitated through techno-fixes,
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Sinkage on O’Keefe St, New Orleans
All strategies for sustainable futures struggle with the sinking mess of the present. such as proliferating desalination plants, and the tendencies of such ‘solutions’ to mortgage the future on
residents could be exposed to lead by construction projects shaking the metal loose from old pipes. This construction includes a 135 mile Federal Emergency Management Agency funded water-line replacement project, which promised to remove the problem it is shaking loose (this in a context where the city admits it doesn’t know the locations of all the existing lead service lines). Given this material was once the industry standard, such ignorance isn’t surprising, but nonetheless requires further government intervention. Thus the legacy of yesterday’s infrastructural promise is today’s public health hazard. Importantly, and despite the identified dangers of the pipes to residents’ drinking water, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans is only replacing waterlines on public property.
behalf of contemporary lifestyles. All strategies for sustainable futures struggle with the sinking mess of the present. As at Borroloola, the reticulated infrastructure delivering drinking water to New Orleans’ residents has also exhibited levels of lead beyond safe drinking standards. Sixty-five to 80 percent of the city’s pipes are almost two centuries old. Shortly before the 2017 floods, the New Orleans Office of the Inspector General found that PIVOT
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06 of 06 Brad Wetherall Graduate Architect TheFulcrum.Agency Fremantle thefulcrum.agency
‘So, how many degrees are you up to now?’ Somehow, this was the jokey comment that stuck with me the most.
If lead is leaching from and flowing through the pipes, how might we respond to the fact that the state doesn’t know what’s down below or determines that its responsibility extends only to the edges of public land? How might water itself bind us in ways that thinking about broken infrastructure in our own backyards and elsewhere does not? Writing about Flint, Michigan, anthropologist Catherine Fennell (2016)12 notes the discursive similarities between the claims ‘We are all Flint’ and ‘All lives matter’. In practice, such statements convey ‘the kind of risks that a far-flung group of citizens can recognize as shared, and thus worthy of collective concern and action, and those that will, despite their ubiquity, seem isolated events that will never break the surface of widespread attention.’ Where the contamination of municipal pipes is liable to produce ‘hydraulic publics’ (Anand 2017)13 through citizen science initiatives demanding government responses, in contrast, the failure of housing to also support healthy PIVOT
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More than all the sliding door moments, mental HECS debt recalculations, Mondayitis crises of salary comparison that I’ve had in the decade since my pivot from classroom teacher to graduate architect, this question from my Mum’s old school friend that I bumped into on a Saturday morning grocery shop poked some little thought, that from time to time makes me question my pivot. And while it’s important to take the advice of those close to you before big decisions, trust me, some isn’t worth considering. If I had fretted over the thoughts of others, I wouldn’t be working in a job I love, in a career that fits. While it took a little longer to get here and from time to time I reflect on what might have been an easier path, I know that my pivot was the right move. Besides, the answer was ‘only three’.
Open Your Eyes at the F. Edward Hebert Defense Complex, New Orleans
Some of us can spit back the lead soup that leaches from ‘our’ pipes, even as others must swallow the lead dust that flakes off ‘our’ walls.
living practices has been more difficult to articulate and engender such collective demands and actions around. Compared with pipes that leach lead, the inability to access housing, (let alone secure tenancy in affordable housing that supports tenants’ positive health outcomes) is more likely to be explained by individual shortcoming. In the United States especially, the shift from public housing to the curtailed state provision of vouchers for housing in the private market has also effected a privatisation of responsibility for infrastructural failure. This is evident in the logic of pipe replacements in New Orleans: householders, or in what is now a city of majority renters, landlords, are
responsible for replacing pipes from the kerb to the kitchen. The privatisation of infrastructural provision and failure, or in Ara Wilson’s (2016)14 phrase, the ‘unbundling’ of public infrastructure under neoliberalism, exacerbates the contemporary ‘concrete divide’15 between the infrastructural haves and have-nots. Often presuming models of homeowner tenants, building science recommendations for healthy homes are typically quiet on the means renters might use to improve their water or their indoor air quality without risking eviction by punitive landlords. Put differently, while affordable housing advocacy might prioritise the issue of domestic infrastructure’s effects on tenants’ health
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1 Bennett, Jane. 2009. Vibrant matter: A political ecology of things. Durham & London: Duke University Press. 2 Caldeira, Teresa P. R. 2000. City of walls: Crime, segregation, and citizenship in São Paulo. Berkeley: University of California Press. 3 Green, Jacky. 2017. Yee-haw, money trucks. Artwork. 4 Ahmann, Chloe. 2018. ‘It’s exhausting to create an event out of nothing’: Slow violence and the manipulation of time. Cultural Anthropology. 33(1): 142-171. 5 Quoted in Spring, Joel and Munro, Lorna. 2018. Survival Guide. Radio Skid Row. Accessed: https:// soundcloud.com/radio-skid-row/ sets/survival-guide 6 Araluen, Evelyn. 2019. To outlive a home: Poetics of a crumbling domestic. Cordite Poetry Review. 1 February. 7 Lerner, Stephen. 2010. Sacrifice zones: The front lines of toxic chemical exposure. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 8 Povinelli, Elizabeth. 2011. Economies of abandonment: Social belonging and endurance in late liberalism. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
(establishing minimum healthy housing standards) building scientists and hygienists must also become advocates of tenants’ rights. As Fennell writes, ‘While “we” might all be at risk of ingesting toxins, some of us can spit back the lead soup that leaches from “our” pipes, even as others must swallow the lead dust that flakes off “our” walls.’ This is the challenge of infrastructural inequalities: who can spit back what? How can we conceive and respond to problems that are shared, but never evenly? And how do infrastructures themselves give rise to particular kinds of publics and specific potentials for collective action? A version of this essay was originally presented to open the Infrastructural Inequalities public program at Artspace, Sydney in October 2018—a collaboration which is ongoing between the Housing for Health Incubator (University of Sydney) and Snack Syndicate. That event pulled together artists, activists, academics, and other professionals, because facing the challenges of infrastructural inequalities requires responses that are equally creative, collective, critical, and technical. As Sara Ahmed16 writes, ‘It takes conscious willed and willful effort not to reproduce an inheritance’, and any work against social reproduction requires a broad coalition, locally organised and institutionally disparate, flexible to internal difference and critique, and open to ongoing reorientation. In the contexts described above, community-led planning and local organising around water monitoring and against further extraction is working towards ensuring the ongoing security of communities in the face of flooding and contamination. As citizens and as allies, we might reflect on how we can contribute to an ‘infrastructure of dissent’17, which is a social, intimate infrastructure, and which, like concrete, can also be ‘built, material, and lasting’. PIVOT
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9 Larkin, Brian. 2013. The politics and poetics of infrastructure. Annual Review of Anthropology. 42: 327343. 10 Anand, Nikhil. 2015. Leaky states: Water audits, ignorance, and the politics of infrastructure. Public Culture. 27(2): 305-330. 11 Bacigalupi, Paolo. 2015. The Water Knife. Vintage Books: New York. 12 Fennell, Catherine. 2016. Are we all Flint? Limn. (7): https://limn.it/ articles/are-we-all-flint/ 13 Anand, Nikhil. 2017. Hydraulic city. Durham and London: Duke University Press. 14 Wilson, Ara. 2016. The infrastructure of intimacy. Signs: Journal of women in culture and society. 41(2): 247280. 15 Gandy, Matthew. 2004. Rethinking urban metabolism: Water, space and the modern city. City. 8(3): 363-379. 16 Ahmed, Sara. 2014. White men. feministkilljoys. 4 November. 17 Alan Sears quoted in Brett, Matthew. 2015. Building an infrastructure of dissent. New Socialist. 17 February. 18 Cowen, Deborah. 2017. Infrastructures of empire and resistance. https://www. versobooks.com/blogs/3067infrastructures-of-empire-andresistance.
Photos by Liam Grealy
Motherhood Statements PIVOT
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Words by Emma Williamson Images by Mark Braddock
As women there are few events that are commonly shared that make us pivot to the degree that having children does. I have been reflecting on the demands of parenting small children. Trying to grasp the patchy memories of so many balls in the air and the deprivation of sleep and solitude that comes from this immense responsibility. I remember the exhaustion of years of broken sleep, of learning to become a morning person and the feeling that â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;this will passâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and I will get my life back when they are older.
I have had to adjust to the fact that parenting teenagers requires a whole new set of skills. There are new tools required for the kit and it is a long way from easy. The move to parenting is not one shift but several. Sometimes these shifts happen without warning, and other times they come as a preemptive strike to try to re-steer the ship and avoid a perceived disaster ahead. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a team effort with no clear instruction manual.
There is a lot of talk about the role our workplace can play in welcoming women back to the workforce. About ways that women can stay connected. Ways that they can seek part-time work that allows them to progress their career rather than stand still or go backwards. Ways that we can address the fact that (in architecture at least) so many women leave in the decade from their late twenties and never return.
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If the workplace is changing to support women in their endeavour to work, then what are some of the traps we can fall into at home that might be holding us back as we search for equity and flexibility? Getting women back to work is so important but so is keeping them there no matter what the stage of parenting.
The pivot starts at birth. Breastfeeding binds women and children and ensures that we stay close. But when not performing this miracle of sustenance, we women are looking around for ways to make ourselves useful … and inevitably turn our attention, energy and intelligence to conquering the domestic situation in full. The laundry, cleaning, cooking— slowly but surely these start to fall under the job description of the person who is at home the most. I call this mistake, Mistake #1. A new sense of identity is born— a new set of skills mastered. In comes the Thermomix, the elaborate birthday parties, the fair trade, organic muslin wrap and baby yoga … and over time there is a shift— whether we plan it or not—as we pivot away from the professional identity that previously defined us. At Mother’s Group we start to be defined by whether or not our baby is a good sleeper (evidently this is a reflection on your parenting skills), introducing our baby to solids, crawling, walking … I remember going to Mother’s Group (where I lasted three weeks) and being absolutely shocked that no one asked me what I did for a job.
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And then as we shift out of the sleep deprived, breastfeeding fog the topic of re-introducing work becomes part of the family conversation. There is the time away from the baby to consider, the desire for meaningful work and the cost that will come with care. This time is often defined by Mistake #2—comparing the cost of childcare and associated domestic assistance with the amount of money the mother will earn. The biggest mistake we can make is starting to silo the women’s part time income in relation to the costs of keeping the machine of the family going. These costs should be seen as part of the family budget as a whole and in consideration of the long-term earning capacity of the family. The pay gap will continue to widen if we don’t make this important shift in thinking. We need to see this return to work as an investment—an investment in maintaining a professional working life and an investment in communicating to our children the important role that women play in providing for our families and contributing to society outside the home through meaningful work.
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Many women I know who have taken a break for children have returned to the workforce by creating their own small business. Often this is inspired by the desire to manage their own time and be highly flexible. They become the person in the family who can drop everything if required. Mistake #3 may seem minor but it reinforces the inequity that often exists within families when we consider the relative importance of peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work lives. Who stays home when your child is unwell? (Answer: usually the person who is working part-time or self-employed.) This devalues the contribution of the part-time worker and has a proportionately greater impact than the full-time worker missing a day.
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In our family we have learned that the demands of parenting do not ease up once our precious bundles could see themselves off to school on the bus—actually in our experience the need to be present at home has intensified with the teenage years. It’s all handson-deck and has required re-thinking the division of domestic labour and parenting duties that worked when the kids were younger. As the CEO, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Project Manager of the family it can be a challenge to let go of ingrained patterns of responsibility. It can be hard to step back and let the other parent drive the boat for a while. To actually step back and not try to pull puppet strings from the side is something that is a daily challenge to me. Mistake #4 is a combination and consolidation of all previous mistakes and the inflexible norms that exist within our workplaces. It’s entirely possible than women and men would benefit from more flexibility in the workplace—and ultimately so would our teenagers. Our kids don’t just need mothering—they need parenting and it’s a project we should all be working on. It’s not wholly in the hands of the family to change these dynamics, nor is it in the hands of the workforce. These two domains will never succeed in creating equity if they do not work together. How’s that for a series of motherhood statements!
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Next, Issue 01 Agency Due December 2019
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TheFulcrum.Agency is an architectural consultancy that leverages community and social outcomes through evidencebased design thinking. TheFulcrum.Agency works across Australia and is born from decades in practice. thefulcrum.agency