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politics and culture

Like many people, I am horrified by the new world order that is being created by the current administration in the United States.

This is not to say that there aren’t injustices going on all over the world and in my own country.

This is, though, a wake-up call to pay attention to those who deliberately make rules for others based on their own pecuniary interests and prejudices. This is the ground being broken for something worse. This is hatred writ large, being disguised as a means of keeping people safe and protecting their rights to be white and privileged. This is a time for pushback.

Those of us who have read history, and heard the stories of those whose families fled for their lives, or indeed lost them, in the wake of fascist regimes cannot help but be horrified at the patterns we are seeing.

And it’s not just Trump we need to worry about. It is the coterie of mostly men who surround him. They are the ones who have agreed to join this unholy game. They are the ones who are putting themselves in greater positions of power to implement fearful ideologies at the expense of the most vulnerable in society. They are the ones who know exactly how to play a game of divide and conquer, shocking us into paying attention to their latest grenade and behind the scenes implementing more sinister moves.

We can’t all do everything. This is a battle to be waged on many fronts.

What I can do is give thought (and then action) as to how I can add to the resistance. This is the start of my list, my small contribution to a bigger pool.

1  In the year to March 2016, 1.01 million Australians visited the USA. I was one of them. I will not travel to the United States of America again until such time as this administration begins to understand and implement its own Constitution. As part of this action, I will inform the airlines I would normally choose to fly with, and continue to encourage others to consider this action.  #boycotttravelusa

2  I will pay attention to the products I buy and the companies whose services I use in the context of their response to the hatred.

3  I will write to and call Australian politicians who are either being silent or mealy-mouthed about the politics of hate and discrimination, and how it impacts our own citizens and their families.

Emil Cioran (1911-1995) was a Philosophy graduate from the University of Bucharest in Romania. Were it not for a visit to Portugal’s Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, I would never have known of him or this small piece of his. Cioran lived in Paris from 1937 and wrote his work in the Romanian and French languages.

Jose Thomas Brum is a Brazilian who translated Cioran’s work into Portuguese. Consequently, this English translation of an excerpt from Cioran’s O Livro das Illusoes (The Book of Delusion) feels a little clunky and yet this transcription, on the wall of the Museum accompanied by the photograph below, struck a chord.

To detach yourself elegantly from the world; to give contour and grace to sadness; a solitude in style; a walk that gives cadence to memories; stepping towards the intangible; with the breath in the trembling margins of things; the past reborn in the overflow of fragrances; the smell, through which we conquer time; the contour of the invisible things; the forms of the immaterial; to deepen yourself in the intangible; to touch the world airborne by smell; aerial dialogue and gliding dissolution; to breath in your own reflecting fragmentation.

Emil Cioran - O Livro das Ilusoes

A short place marker of a post to note that we visited Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum in the past couple of days. The Henry Ford story is a complex one. I’m still processing the impressions I took away from both places.

Notwithstanding the above, nearly 60 years ago, Rosa Parks rode in a bus in Montgomery, Alabama and made history. On this day I got to sit in that bus and soak up the spirit of her courage and the stand that she made that day.

Henry Ford Museum 2Rosa Parks bus - Henry Ford Museum

 

 

If you squint a little, it’s easy to take yourself back to the seventies. A time when the refectory was one large room and tables and chairs could be moved to accommodate the conversation’s shifting numbers. Where a cafeteria and a French crepe cafe fed the masses without the need for branded fast food and juices.

Where the cinema teasingly screened multiple films each day. If there had been a subject called Film Studies in those days, I’d have academic honours to burn.

Refectory precinct UQ - July 2014 - Ancient Canvas Effect FX

The sandstone origins of the campus remain central. It’s easy to find the library building and remember frantic studying for end-of-year exams. To remember news of the dismissal of a Prime Minister coming through the loudspeaker system and a rush of bodies heading to the streets to protest.

Library Building UQ - July 2014 - Lindale effect FX

The walk, sometimes run, through the courtyard to the Michie Building and favourite English tutorials with an always stimulating radical feminist who is now the Head of School.

Walk to courtyard - UQ July 2014 - Ancient Canvas effect

Michie Building - UQ  July 2014 - Ancient Canvas FX

The graduation hall, where an Arts graduate wondered what came next, is now the University’s Art Museum.

Old Mayne Hall - UQ July 2014 - Ancient Canvas

Entry UQ Art Museum - July 2014

If you squint a little …….

Last week on the ABC panel program Q & A, Arrernte elder Rosalie Kunoth-Monks responded in the most eloquent and dignified way when another panelist touted assimilation as a solution to ‘the Aboriginal problem’.  Actions in the name of assimilation have inflicted much pain and anguish on the first persons of Australia, none the least of which were those of the Stolen Generation.

You know, I have a culture. I am a cultured person. I am not something that fell out of the sky for the pleasure of somebody putting another culture into this cultured being. John shows what is an ongoing denial of me. I am not an Aboriginal or indeed, indigenous. I am Arrernte, Alyawarre, First Nations person, a sovereign person from this country.

I didn’t come from overseas. I came from here. My language, in spite of whiteness trying to penetrate into my brain by assimilationists. i am alive, I am here and now, and I speak my language. I practise my cultural essence of me. Don’t try and suppress me and don’t call me a problem. I am not the problem.

I have never left my country nor have I ceded any part of it. Nobody has entered into a treaty or talked to me about who I am.

I am Arrernte, Alyawarre, female elder from this country. Please remember that.

I am not the problem.

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks

 

I’m still catching up with some of the Hobart highlights from our Christmas-New Year break.

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery recently underwent an extensive redevelopment including the opening up the old Bond Store as a gallery.  This renovated space provides an atmospheric palette for a myriad of stories and objects relating to Tasmania’s natural and social history.

The stories of the first peoples of lutruwita (now known as Tasmania) are told in both the ningina tunapri gallery and the Parrawa, Parrawa! exhibit which includes stories of the 19th century invasion in the form of short dramatised films projected through the darkness onto the walls of the store.

The curators make good use of audio-visual material throughout the gallery including old lantern slides. The one included here points to one of the introduced European agricultural methods, honey bees.

TMAG - Old Bond Store

TMAG - Bond Store storemen graffitiTMAG - bee hive slide

One of the quirky objects is this re-created model of a wombat standing on its hind legs in a bear-like stance. The first taxidermist to work on a wombat lived in England and was unfamiliar with their four-legged stance, thus he stuffed it in more ways than one.

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Wombat taxidermy