In law as in practise the people are the intellectual property of the state, the physical apparatus of corporations. In Australia, history has been whitewashed into jingoistic institutionalised racism, the bastardised legacy of war for the British Empire, but also of early, often well-meaning, labour strikes (and terrorist operations) several carried out by Irish separatists (The Eureka Stockade, Ned Kelly). Despite the short history of European settlement, very few citizens are aware of the history of the dispossessed, let alone of the thousands of years of Indigenous History. The unofficial national anthem, “Waltzing Mathilda” was actually written about the Shearers’ Strike in 1891, in which the farm owners, known as “wealthy squatters,” attempted to bring in cheaper Chinese labour and further disenfranchise the population of itinerant farm workers, which laid the foundations of the labour movement and Australian Labor Party, as well as the infamous White Australia Policy. The residency would centre around the specific site of Firstdraft as a free space in an increasingly privatised landscape, dedicated to experimentation and community, which has, sadly, almost become an anachronism. In the past two years the State Government has sold off public assets (land and real estate) to the value of $1 billion. The City of Sydney Area has largely been inoculated from this practise thanks to the Clover Moore regime, which is set to soon reach its full term. As a society, it would seem, that we have accepted the growing commercialisation of public assets as though the only means of entitlement can be through means. The ruminations on the subject will eventuate in an extended prose-poetic (and journalistic) work to take the form of an artist’s book (or at least a mockup of such to be exhibited), with accompanying images (paintings in the style of agit prop as well as images of sites of historical interest in the public interest), as it were, (and largely ironically) forming an aesthetic of politics. It would also potentially be performed, through petition to council, in places set aside for public use that are underutilised to the extent that they could conceivably be threatened by a change of government in the city (such as various Town Halls). These interventions would be both filmed and photographed and feature within the book itself. It will essentially amount to a critique of Australian culture through the history of unionism, through place and architecture.
Z.O'- as featured in Art Collector: