Jks. It's actually about two great works at Fremantle Arts Centre, and about whether change is possible.
But first I'll tell you about Bin Diving - if there's barbed wire the food might taste better, even though the presence of adrenaline makes meat tough. This is an opaque reflection on the End of the Worlds, nudity, and gleaning.
So I've been thinking this week about how to explain to private school boys why it's important to compost. Soon I'll be camping with them, and that's one of the things we'll do - learn about compost and worm farms. But of course the thing is composting is just brushing a bit of dust off the spikey poison suit of our culture we all wear. And the thing is, someone needs to come along and tell us/them how to take the whole suit off.
I'd like to tell the boys our whole culture is set up wrong. How we move, how we listen to music, how we cook and shower, how we collect school list items from Shitbarn (Officeworks), how we make this typewriter I'm typing on, how we talk on the phone, how we upload an article and how we read an article. Do you know any real utopian self-sufficent anarchists? Bring them over to camp.
One of the ancient laws of the "people of the book" is about "gleaning". When people harvested their fields they were only allowed to go through with the tools once. Whatever was left they couldn't go back and collect, because those grains and those crops were left for poorer people to come through and collect, glean, to have something to put on the table too. This is a good rule, anarchy not necessary.
There was another law called 'Jubilee' which said all the property people owned had to go back every 50 years to its original owners, and all slaves be freed, to prevent wealth being concentrated by particular people. A half century tabula paene vacua.
Here in our own land everything had its place in the magic system of humans, spirits, and non-humans: when to light up fires to get food or rejuvenate earth and which direction dew would fall in to soften and kill the fire; what and how to kill and eat; which stars mean which story to repeat in song and actions to take in response; which poisonous root to soak for months to become food, or spiritual food, or medicine.
We went bin diving last night after the Fremantle Arts Centre opening, and one thing I'll tell you is that rich people don't put up with non-delicious pineapples and mangoes. Matt said "We are the poor gleaning people" but we all knew this is ridiculous. We're in the big poison suits, clomping about the earth, filling up the streams with our one-drink straws, cars, faux or real anger, flashed willies, etc.
Death River Lithium 'Haiku':
Should I invest in lithium?
Photo says no
on my iPhone
I'm already invested!
So who's going to take off the suit first? You? Me? Kirin Callinan, as the ultimate artistic anarchic statement? It's not a reveal if you knew it was there all along. Shall I do the right thing or shall I not? A fish of indecision in a plastic sea. (These sentences are here to perform a classic "bait and switch" - see, they can be used as a 'pull quote' underneath the article title, to confuse the reader.)
Museum of Water, 'Repatriate', Fremantle Arts Centre
Well the two shows at the Fremantle Arts Centre (Museum of Water and 'Repatriate') are about the End of Worlds and about taking off the whole suit, if anyone dares, and we all somehow must dare.
The one that spans all the rooms of the centre, and out into the courtyards, and across WA and the world in the last year and a half, is the Museum of Water.
It's like this: people bring ("donate") samples of water that are special to them in some way. They give them to one of the Guardians who records and logs the water and gives them a card on which to write what the water is, and/or why they chose it. The samples are displayed on wonderful shapely plinths and taken round the country in a rusty van, added to as they go.
It is a most moving exhibition. Last night walking around the space I cried seeing water donated by a biodiversity and eucalyptus expert who is trying to save a fresh water lake below the house I grew up in. There was water from that lake, and written on the card was the traditional, ancient name, real name of the place where I grew - I'd never seen that name til last night.
There was water from where people had said goodbye to the ash remains of their parent or friend or child. There was "Water from 3 nights of no showers" where some beautiful young genius was like "the first night was movie night so I didn't want to have a shower. The next night was pizza night so I didn't want to have a shower. The next day I had dance class in the morning but I only had a shower at night and this water was squeezed from my sweat band." And later I saw a girl with dark hair taking a photo of that water and saying to her mum or big sister next to her "Yeah, I squeezed it out of my headband when I got out of the shower." I saw the genius who donated her "3 nights of no showers water".
The next thing to make me cry was Nandi Chinna's poems and water from the Beeliar wetlands which she helped save with her body and her poems. When I was driving on the freeway one time and she'd invited me to a meeting about the wetlands I felt the voice from above say "go" and felt the spirit inside me saying it was important. But I didn't go until three years later when it was nearly too late. It wasn't too late though. They saved that one wetland, even managing to do it while mostly wearing their big spikey poison suits.
The director of the whole Perth Festival made a speech, for this was the opening night, and she cried a little bit, skinny art-world dressed thick black glasses and shiny a-frame hair tears as she talked about the artist who made the work, and also about a man called Dr Richard Walley, who did the Welcome to Country, and who had showed her the waterways of this city and something about what they've meant for '2000 generations,' as he put it.
The other artist exhibiting at the Centre is Latai Taumoepeau. I wrote a poem to summarise what was said last night about her work, instead of telling you about it.
Her whole islands is drowning
Our country can hold the head up
Or push it down
In the sand,
In the water,
In the sand.
This article is a bit all over the place, like all people's possessions are when the wrong kind of flood plains take over their lands and crops.
And by the way, the town of Gundagai just installed a statue of an Australian hero who saved forty-nine people in a bark canoe, a people who didn't listen to local knowledge and built their houses on the flooding, sinking sands and a third of their friends, neighbours, family and own bodies got flooded, flushed away down the death river, except the ones Yarri saved.