I was moved by a recent article by Henry A. Giroux in Truth-out. He writes passionately about the failing democracies, while at the same time injecting some hope for the perceived powerless global masses. He writes:
‘If democratic agents are in short supply, so is the formative culture that is necessary to create them – revealing a cultural apparatus that is more than an economic entity or industry. It is also a public pedagogy machine – an all-embracing totality of educational sites that produces particular narratives about the world, what it means to be a citizen and what role education will play in a powerful and unchecked military-industrial-security-surveillance state’.
Awareness of the military state is growing. However, along with the awareness there is anger and urgency and the risks associated with expressing discontent are also growing. Communications in protest need to be as discursive as those in capitalist consumption. There is much to be learned from past protests that can be applied to today’s technologies.
Giroux quotes Stanley Aronowitz saying he is right in arguing that:
‘[The] social character has become entwined with communications technology. … This intricate interlock between cultural institutions, political power and everyday life constitutes a new moment of history. It has become the primary machinery of domination. And a central aspect of domination is the abrogation of concept that we can know the totality, but are condemned to understand the division of the world as a series of specializations. Thus, the well-known fragmentation of social life is both a result of the re-arrangement of social space and the modes by which knowledge is produced, disseminated and ingested. The cultural apparatus is largely responsible for the intellectual darkness that has enveloped us’.
Outsider Art to my mind represents the counter revolution in the ‘re-arrangement of social space’. A reclamation if you like! There are still more freedoms in artistic expression than there are in the press or publishing. As the institutions of learning become plagued with techno-military priorities and the concern for cash, Outsider Art becomes the new platform for social dissent.
Junitta recently had an exhibition at Foster’s Stockyard Gallery titled “Sand and Vibration”. Some of those works are now available for sale at the Smallest Gallery. In addition the Smallest Gallery has works from Junitta’s previous exhibition “Beyond the Edge”.
Works from “Sand and Vibration”. 2013.
Save Our Wetlands?
Make clearing native vegetation easier and quicker (as opposed to the current situation where vegetation clearance is a last resort).
Largely remove the need for professional on-site flora and fauna assessments before clearing, replacing them with computer models.
Create a ‘cash for clearing’ system, which means that the bulk (approximately 90%) of applications to clear will simply require a fee to be paid before clearing.
The major benefactor of these new regulations will be the fossil fuels industries.
There is a lot at stake, Gippsland has internationally renowned wetlands. The Lakes, rivers and marshes of Gippsland are teemed with wildlife and provide an abundance of food and habitat for birds, fish and invertebrates.
Wetlands prevent flooding by holding water much like a sponge. By doing so, wetlands help keep river levels normal and filter and purify the surface water.
Wetlands accept water during storms and whenever water levels are high. When water levels are low, wetlands slowly release water.
Wetlands also release vegetative matter into rivers, which helps feed fish in the rivers. Wetlands help to counter balance the human effect on rivers by rejuvenating them and surrounding ecosystems.
Many animals that live in other habitats use wetlands for migration or reproduction. For example, herons nest in large old trees, but need shallow areas in order to wade for fish and aquatic life. Amphibians often forage in upland areas but return to the water to mate and reproduce.
While wetlands are truly unique, they must not be thought of as isolated and independent habitat. To the contrary, wetlands are vital to the health of all other biomes and to wildlife and humans everywhere.
Unlike most other habitats, wetlands directly improve other ecosystems. Because of its many cleansing benefits, wetlands have been compared to kidneys. The analogy is good one. Wetlands and kidneys both help control water flow and cleanse the system.
Wetlands also clean the water by filtering out sedimentation, decomposing vegetative matter and converting chemicals into useable form.
The ability of wetlands to recycle nutrients makes them critical in the overall functioning of earth. No other ecosystem is as productive, nor as unique in this conversion process[…]
|Gippsland’s Wetlands Wildlife.
Courtesy of the Victorian National Parks Association.
These are exciting times. In June I made the commitment to open up my studio to the public and allow other local artists to share the exhibition space. This turned into a whole new project; The Smallest Gallery in Gippsland. The response has been encouraging.
Australia can boast some of the most beautiful environments in the world, many with fragile eco-systems, eroding coastlines, depleted forests and ongoing threats to unique and significant species. Australia is home to more than one million species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. About 85% of the continent’s flowering plants, 84% of mammals, more than 45% of birds and 89% of inshore, temperate-zone fish are unique to Australia; in other words they cannot be found in any other region www.environment.gov.au . The consistent encroachment of industrialisation, particularly from mining and its concomitant export traffic puts Australia’s natural environment at severe risk. Already, much of the damage done to Australia’s biodiversity is irreversible.
Australia has an increasing number of fragile eco-systems in need of protection. Eco-system is a term that describes the complex interactions that plants and animals have with each other and such elements as soil, water, climate and escarpment. A variety of damaging processes are contributing to the decline in native species, these include fires, invasive plants, loss of habitat and diseases. Almost all the disturbances are caused by human activities. The clearing of vegetation isolates plant populations and wildlife colonies. Small areas of habitat can only support species for short periods and their presence adds to the loss of biodiversity causing a never-ending destructive circle. Marine and estuarine habitats are increasingly damaged by seepage from agriculture and intense industrial developments. The pollution of habitat comes from herbicides, pesticides, fertilisers, sewage, oil, industrial effluent, the logging of forests, the compacting of land and the dredging of waterways. Australian State and Federal laws have allowed for some monitoring of pollution and the establishment of green corridors, but increasingly the concerns about damages have given way to economic imperatives and the introduction of new and more harmful industries such as deep water drilling for oil and unconventional gas extractions. Added to this, between 2009 and 2010 Australia doubled its coal exports to China [www.australiancoal.com.au /exports.html]. This has resulted in more open cut coal mines.
A Legacy of Environment Destruction and its Continuum.
It is over the 200 years since European settlement and the extensive clearing of native vegetation for development. The damage has not ceased. Human activity and natural events such as fire, drought and flood continue to change Australia’s delicate eco-systems. Such change affects the interactions within ecological communities and reduces diversity; this in turn threatens the survival of many existing native species.
Since settlement hundreds of species unique to Australia have become extinct; ‘including at least 50 bird and mammal, 4 frog and more than 60 plant species’. We will probably never know exactly what has been lost while many current species are still being threatened. More than 310 species of native animals and over 1180 species of native plants have being marked by the Australian Government as being at risk of disappearing forever [www.environment.gov.au …]
Australia’s natural areas have unique values that need to be conserved and restored for future generations. Australia’s natural environments also have immense aesthetic and cultural values which attract millions of tourists and add to the economy. Many of these environments are integral parts of the traditional culture of Australia’s Aboriginal peoples.
Conservation of our biological diversity is important because it not only helps to provide clean air and water it also bears heavily on the mental and physical health of the nation.
The Role of Art in Environment Protection.
From time immemorial people have sought to transform their environments. In the Stone Age tools were crafted from flints, bones and rocks and colourful pigments were sourced from plant life to create primitive drawings on cave walls. Nature provided the context for shapes, dimensions, intricate patterns and structures that helped in recording our natural history. Since the beginning of time there has always been an inextricable link between artists and the environment as each generation would strive to better understand their colourful world.
Amidst the profoundly changing societies, natural disasters and man made wars groups of artists and artisans have joined together to portray the social setting and to make predictions about the future. The Chinese portrayed society on parchments that are still used today to interpret Chinese history and philosophy. The Greeks built a vast and magnanimous Parthenon to their goddess and a Polis leading to distinct divisions between citizens and slaves. The Romans added to these ideas turning primitive labyrinths made from stones into sophisticated cities with technologies that have been copied and reshaped throughout the centuries. That many of these ancient creations have been recreated in society today is testament to the endurance of the artist as journalist and inventor. They demonstrate the profound influence artists have had on the history of ideas and their place in the eternal universe.
Today, artists are responding to different cultural needs and developing active and practical roles in environmental and social issues. It is within this context that mass movements have arisen around the world to answer the call on protecting the planet. Artists for the Environment takes pride in being a part of this consciousness raising community.
I have just signed the Peoples’ Non-Violence Charter. Please support this worthy action. http://
I saw the realm of joy and pleasure.
There I melted like salt;
no religion, no blasphemy,
no conviction or uncertainty remained.
In the middle of my heart,
a star appeared,
and the seven heavens were lost in its brilliance. Rumi.
In the words of physicist Lawrence Kraus, we all come from star dust. What this means is the very same components that give rise to stars and planets have also given rise to humans and all other life forms.
I have always been fascinated by the intuitive urges that cause people to refer to such ephemeral things as star dust. Where does star dust sit in the unconscious?
All religion appears to have a place in the unconscious. The power of belief contributes to human survival. It helps us deal with anxieties and traumas and it gives hope and joy to many aspects of life. The reverse is also true; belief can be very destructive; much like the life and death of a star.
I am excited that science is now recognizing these very human yet mysterious traits as part of a universal pattern of cosmic evolution. I am excited by the idea that our world may just be a hologram, a beamed image from the out universe where all knowledge is gathered possibly around the circumference of black holes.
I am longing to know more about dark energy and whether it can have a correlation to the dark unconscious that Sigmund Freud described so many decades ago. Knowledge is the ‘realm of joy and pleasure’.
If you want to know more about the cosmos go to www.briangreene.org if you want to know more about the mind keep reading the posts on this blog.
THE TRANSITIONS MOVEMENT.
The Transitions Movement [also referred to as Transition Towns] is said to build resilience amongst small communities by returning them to a localized land economy. In this essay I argue that the most devastating impacts on life and land are caused by the desire for territory, raw resources and ongoing wars. I contend that localization will not create appropriate change it will merely allow for the re-territorialization of existing power relations. Further, in the context of escalating regional violence I argue that stand alone localization will enforce feelings of patriotism, nationalism and xenophobia.
Localization puts a strong focus on resilience and protection for local communities by way of limiting consumption and growing local food. There is always justification for reducing consumption and improving domestic food productivity, but its necessity pales against the desperation felt by the world’s impoverished millions who must rely on the international community for support. Many of these people are the victims of government mismanagement, secret dealings, corporate greed and renewed colonization; added to this are the growing impacts of global warming. Most of these problems are caused by capitalism. The Transitions movement is not against capitalism it merely colors it green and calls it sustainable. Living with sustainable capitalism does not equate with a sustainable world. Undoubtedly, local communities need resilience and self-help is generally a good means of positive reinforcement and psychological uplifting when times are hard, but the local and the global are important. The history of western development is one of exploiting the pre-modern world and global warming is not sufficient reason to abandon these now developing populations or for suggesting they fend for themselves. The world needs a strong global social movement to combat poverty, aggression and climate change. Environment issues are global and the well being of the planet is contingent on the well being of all its global inhabitants. Want to read more go to www.scribd.com
 Rob Hopkins  Transitions Handbook, Totness, Green Press, p8.