A number of years ago I was a participating artist at a land art event in Queensland. It was called The Floating Land 03. I installed three site-specific signs around Noosa. One along a bike path near to the regional gallery, one among the mangroves that you experienced by timber boardwalk, and one on Main beach.
The work on Main beach (pictured above and below) was gagged, or rather silenced for a short period during the event. Someone took offense and wrapped it up with fabric and gaffer tape. The reason I'm recalling this today is because I just read this quote by comedian Elayne Boosler:
"When women are depressed, they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country".
The futility of this quote lies with the author's vision. She sees the two different responses to melancholy as being somehow unrelated. One is acceptable behaviour and one not. However the two responses are inextricably related. Man invades another country, justifies the destruction and theft of resources (by creating an enemy monster), makes more products with the resources to be consumed at home, which in turn fuels the illness of aggregate desire specific to modern capitalism. Both the consuming and the warring are acts of violence in modern life, only one is direct and one more mediated.
Unlike most of my friends I was sad to see John Howard go. Yes, I was. It meant an end to this horrible man's smug and mean spirited rule, but it also meant that we were heading back to the more indirect and veiled branch of the same party. As I expected, the Labor party has delivered almost the same government as Howard's, only with more fuzzy rhetoric and more sophisticated greenwash. Early in his office, after the Port Arthur massacre, Howard carried out his only good act as a politician, the disarmament of personal firearms. However, he made up for it later when he followed Bush's phony resource war to the Middle East. His logic: killing fellow Australians is inexcusable, however killing Muslims for fossil fuels is totally cool. Similarly, Rudd early in office, delivering his Sorry Day speech, brought us all to tears by 'fessing up to the brutality of white Australia; the genocides and repeated abuse of Aborigines by our very own colonising forces. The moral force of his words are still to this day just beautiful words, something educated people in positions of power are very good at displaying.
How many more years we have to wait for a politician to act morally is anyone's guess. Here, at the Garden of Self Defence, I generally don't dwell on what the Liberal-Labor party are up to. Many of the solutions to resource war, ecological destruction, male aggression, monotheistic colonisation, aggregate-growth capitalism, carbon emissions, genocide of indigenous cultures, pathologies of industrial agriculture, and abuse committed on non-human nature (by all of the above) can be found in community-based permaculture and heirloom seed gardening.
Photographs by Jonathan Sligh.