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Poster Project II
Our future… presents translations in Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung languages of the statement: “Our future depends on respecting Country and Indigenous ways of being”. It employs phrases in local Aboriginal languages to consider the rich knowledge and experience of ecological management and protection held by Aboriginal people. Conversely, it highlights many settlers’ ongoing disregard of that knowledge.
For millennia, Indigenous people have cared for Country, and many argue that in order to combat the devastating ecological crisis we are now experiencing, the broader community needs to meaningfully engage with Indigenous practices of caring for Country.
However, when sited in public, the poster does not communicate its message to the majority of settler-readers in what becomes a performative manifestation of the dominant cultures’ illiteracy of First Nations expertise. It is a warning that cannot be heeded. It demonstrates the huge shift necessary to recognise the importance of Indigenous knowledge in creating a safe, just future for all.
With deep thanks to the people of the Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation, and the linguists and Elders who assisted this project. Additional thanks to designer Andrew Clapham.
Amy Spiers is a Melbourne-based artist, writer and researcher. Her socially-engaged, critical art practice focuses on the creation of live performances, participatory situations and multi-artform installations for both site-specific and gallery contexts. Her work aims to prompt questions and debate about the present social order — particularly about the gaps and silences in public discourse where difficult histories and social issues are not confronted. Spiers has presented art projects across Australia and internationally, including at Monash University Museum of Art (Melbourne), the Museum für Neue Kunst (Freiburg), MONA FOMA festival (Hobart) and the 2015 Vienna Biennale.
Amy has published texts widely in art journals, books and magazines, including for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Auckland Art Gallery, Journal of Arts and Communities and Open Engagement. Spiers completed a Master of Fine Art in 2011 and a PhD in 2018 at the Victorian College of the Arts.
Get There in a Canter
Growing up in rural Australia, my family and I battled the invasive species introduced by settlers. Ferdinand Von Mueller’s blackberries filled every gully with their prickly entanglement of deep green leaves; Thomas Austin’s rabbits deforested swathes of land until all that was left was bulldust brown; and Jane Paterson’s echium planagineum (Paterson’s curse) blanketed kilometres of farm land in luminous purple. The devastating impact of invasive species on Australia’s unique ecology could be described in a few shades of colour. Get There in a Canter reflects on how climate change is enacting a new devastation on the Australian landscape by once again reflecting on how it shifts the hues of our unique ecologies. In the last couple of years acres of coral has bleached, tens of thousands of ghostly fish have floated to the surface of stagnant rivers and the ground of rural Australia, backed by drought, has transformed from a pallet of golden browns, silvery greens and shimmering purples, to a whitish-grey scored by deep black cracks that suck thirsty kangaroos into the heart of the earth.
Clare McCracken is a Melbourne-based, socially engaged artist and PhD candidate at RMIT University, researching methodologies of participatory art in the age of hyper mobility. She is the recipient of the prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship. Clare’s practice includes large-scale immersive installations, fine art objects and contemporary performance works. She often works site-specifically, across disciplines and collaboratively with other artists and community to create works that interrogate contemporary social, political and environmental issues from an Australian perspective. Her practice is characterised by strong and often textural visuals, performance, participation, story telling, humour and fiction.
There is almost nothing that can assuage the deep rumbling that rolls around the recesses of the mind reminding us that our time is almost up. Eco-anxiety is all consuming.
This spectre casts a long shadow. I recall that Sam Cooke song, the one where he tells us he was born by a river. I wonder whether that river is now bone dry or causing havoc in a record-breaking flood. Either seems, probable. Like Sam Cooke, we too know that a change is gonna come.
Inevitability is terrifying and adaptability paramount.
My ancestors adapted – even in the face of great change. They would have loved that Sam Cooke song.
Dean Cross was born and raised on Ngunnawal/Ngambri Country and is of Worimi descent. He is a trans-disciplinary artist primarily working across installation, sculpture and photography. His career began in contemporary dance, performing and choreographing nationally and internationally for over a decade with Australia’s leading dance companies.
As a visual artist Dean has shown his work extensively across Australia. This includes the Indigenous Ceramic Prize at the Shepparton Art Museum, (2018), Tarnanthi at the Art Gallery of South Australia, (2017), RUNS DEEP a solo exhibition at Alaska Projects, Sydney (2018), The Churchie Emerging Art Prize (2016), The Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize (2015), In 2018 Dean exhibited at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney, as a part of the Next Wave Festival, and at Artbank, Sydney . Dean has been artist-in-residence at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space . Dean was selected to be part of the 4A Beijing Studio Residency Program in Beijing, China.
In 2019, Dean will undertake the inaugural Canberra/Wellington Indigenous Artist exchange, where he will be supported by the ACT Government to undertake research with the National War Memorials in both Canberra and Wellington.
The Coal Face (ScoMo)
The Coal Face (ScoMo) is an absurd yet timely portrait of a politician and a nation on the verge of political, ethical and environmental collapse. In February 2017, Scott Morrison, who was at the time Treasurer, brought a lump of coal into the House of Representatives: both a symbolic and physical manifestation of the Liberal government’s love of the fossil fuels industry, of the colonisation of Country, and of catastrophic climate denial. This poster depicts a man ‘at the coal face’ who celebrates as the world burns, who laughs in the face of the apocalypse. Do we follow him into the flames or radically shift the way we live, now, and forever more?
Eugenia Lim is an Australian artist of Chinese–Singaporean descent who works across video, performance and installation to explore how national identities and stereotypes cut, divide and bond our globalised world. Her work has been exhibited internationally at festivals and venues including the Tate Modern, Dark MOFO, ACCA, Melbourne Festival, Next Wave, GOMA, ACMI, firstdraft, FACT Liverpool and EXiS Seoul. She has been artist-in-residence with the Experimental Television Centre NY, Bundanon Trust, 4A Beijing Studio and the Robin Boyd Foundation. She is a 2018–2020 Gertrude Contemporary studio artist and in 2019, is the incoming co-director (with Mish Grigor and Lara Thoms) of APHIDS.
2030 SURVIVAL GUIDE (TIP #19): FIELD DRESSING
Artist: Jen Rae Illustration: Indie Ladan
2030 SURVIVAL GUIDE (TIP #19): FIELD DRESSING is a visual double entendre and a provocation to consider a future impacted by climate change from a disaster preparedness perspective. The illustration provides basic instructions on how to field dress a rabbit in case of food scarcity. It also brings to the fore questions around the abdication of climate action and responsibility by the global elite; altruism and population control; and, international food security. The most rigorous scientific report published in human history states we only have 11 years to curb run-away climate change and collapse. Some are preparing for the worst better than others in the game of ‘survival of the richest’. For instance, billionaires are investing in prime farmland globally; ‘doomsday bunkers’ are now hot real estate for rich ‘preppers’; and, most apocalyptic survival guides are written by and for middle-class, often middle-aged, white men. In Australia, this same demographic is respectively 10% of the population, yet they hold over 70% of seats in politics and leadership across the corporate, academic, media and judiciary sectors. What does that mean for commoners? Disasters heighten disadvantage. By the time the elite take action, it might be too late for most commoners. Hence, why the stakes are extremely high this hunting election season.
Dr Jen Rae is a Melbourne-based artist-researcher of Canadian Métis-Scottish descent. Her 15-year practice-led research expertise is in the discursive field of contemporary environmental art and arts-based environmental communication. It is centered around cultural responses to climate change, specifically the role of artists. Her work is engaged in discourses around food in/security, disaster preparedness and ecological futures predominantly articulated through transdisciplinary collaborative methodologies and community alliances. She is the Creative Lead of Fair Share Fare; a board member of the International Environmental Communication Association and the Creative Recovery Network (AUS); and, has lectured at the postgraduate level in socially-engaged art and performance at the University of Melbourne and Deakin University.
The open-ended narratives that Julia Ciccarone creates in her work raise many questions, particularly regarding our relationship to the natural world. In Connected?, a figure, wrapped in a damp blanket, dials a number from within an iconic Australian phone booth, which is inexplicably situated on a beach. The atmosphere is at once too warm and too cool; a yellow hue pervades a world saturated with light, but the figure is wrapped in blankets, providing much needed comfort and warmth. The edges of this blanket are getting wet, heavy and uncomfortable.
There is a sense of urgency here, the call must be important, as the figure appears at risk: the tide moving in and lapping at their ankles.
Whom is this figure calling, and will they be heard?
Connected? points to both the past, and the future: a call is made from an out-dated telephone booth, but in a world where the rising sea has enveloped a locale that we assume was once safe, dry land. We wonder what action will be taken at this juncture.
Julia Ciccarone’s highly detailed paintings invite the viewer into a world that negotiates the space where memory, imagination, dream and reality intersect. Drawing on herself, friends and family as models for her paintings, solitary figures act out various roles, in vignettes from what the artist describes as “a sort of painterly movie”. In addition to her painting and drawing practice, Ciccarone has worked as an art director, producer and conceptual artist on short and feature films, to great acclaim.
Born in Melbourne in 1967, Julia Ciccarone completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1988. She has volunteered and completed a residency with Arts Victoria at the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies (CERES), in addition to a studio residency in Italy. She has been a semi-finalist in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize and a finalist in the Archibald, Sir John Sulman and The Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prizes.
Echoing the infamous Sex Pistols song, this work references the text ‘No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive’ by theorist Lee Edelman where he proposes queerness as a willingness to embrace a refusal of the social and political order, in particular reproduction. When placed within the context of an environmental poster, ‘No Future’ becomes a deliberately pessimistic and negative call to action – there will literally be no future if extreme climate change and weather events continue, as evidenced by the recent Northern Murray-Darling Basin ‘fish kill’ incident.
Kelly Doley is a Scottish-Australian artist, curator and arts manager, born in Naarm (Melbourne) and currently living on Gadigal land (Sydney). She is founding member of Barbara Cleveland and has exhibited most recently in ‘Unfinished Business: Perspectives on art and feminism’ at ACCA, Melbourne and the 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art ‘Divided Worlds’. She is currently Deputy Director of UNSW Galleries and working with Beijing based I: Project Space on the ‘Feminist South’ project.
Peter Waples-Crowe (Ngarigo)
The ripple reimagines a 19th century print into the climate debate of the contemporary. During unfolding colonisation, Aboriginal people were seen as savages. Our culture was recorded but often not heard. Is this still the same today, where our Indigenous knowledges could be useful to restore the land back to a time before the coming of the Europeans? The ripple reveals that we are part of the country and should be part of the debate on climate change. The stark whiteness of the poster reflects our position as a minority group, a small population. We are smothered by whiteness and the so-called progress that has got us to this point in time. The ripple also speaks about drought and the preciousness of water. When is our Indigenous knowledge, caring for Country and wisdom going to be respected? Or is it just history repeating itself. A ripple can turn into a wave of new ways of thinking.
Peter Waples-Crowe is a Ngarigo queer visual and performing artist, and Aboriginal Health worker whose artwork has featured in many public and private spaces throughout Eastern Australia and internationally. His art practice plays at the intersection of his experiences as an Aboriginal queer person and his work with community health and community arts organisations such as The Torch, the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and his current role at Thorne Harbour Health. Peter is presently a health educator in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program.
Get Floaties explores the poster as a site of public advertisement. In the urban cityscape, passers-by move past hundreds of images catching glimpses of the world in front of them. What will they read from this combination of resigned humour and quiet panic?
The image of a semi-submerged person could depict an ordinary idyllic swimming scene, but the camera angle and bubbles rising from the clothed body suggest haste, unpreparedness.
The asterix that leads to the fine print reveals the terms and conditions of this short-term solution: sea leaves are rising and this poster is about our climate future.
Salote Tawale is a Sydney-based artist. Identity is a central focus in her research, exploring the inherent conflict of being from a mixed heritage (Fiji and Australia) that simultaneously includes and excludes Tawale from a dominant post-colonial Australia. Intrinsically performative, Tawale’s practice employs photography, video, drawing, sculpture, installation and live actions. In 2017 Tawale was awarded the inaugural Arts NSW Visual Artists Fellowship, to record oral histories and connect to artists in the Fiji Islands, travel to major art events in Europe including the Venice Biennale and Documenta. Tawale was a recipient of the 2018 Australia Council for the Arts London Residency program and is a current studio artist at Artspace, Sydney.
A Just Transition
In Australia in the 1970’s, builders and labourers heeded the call of environmentalists, heritage activists and public housing residents, by stopping work on construction projects that would have damaging effects on local communities and ecosystems. ‘Green Bans’ were used as a tool for over 4 years. Forty-two projects, or $18 billion worth of development was held in limbo until everyday people’s demands were heard. This happened because workers make the wheels turn. As Gavin Stanbrook says, “workers could shut down coal, gas fracking, all those industries – overnight”. The large format street poster comic A Just Transition puts forth the argument that everyday people can lead the charge in the fight against climate change and all its intersecting horrors, because crucially, we do all the work. The climate crisis presents itself today, and for a short while longer, as a tear in the fabric. We can rip that hole wide open and decide collectively what we want the world to look like on the other side.
Sam Wallman is a cartoonist, warehouse worker, labour organiser and comics-journalist. His first long-form comic book, an exploration of collectivism and unionism, will be released by Scribe Publications in early 2020. His comic for this series was produced on Wurundjeri land.