Why Bother Seeing the World for Real – For (Touristic) Space

Somewhere in this image is my nana – Dot Dummett. This picture was taken in 1966 when she left Melbourne aboard the very first Women’s Weekly World tour cruise ship. Enticed by images of the world that she found in the pages of that venerable magazine – of coronations and castles and exotic locales – she made sure to book her place on the first Women’s Weekly World tour without hesitation. My grandfather, who had seen some parts of the world during his service in World War 2, had no intention of ever leaving Australia again and confined his interest in the world to his own backyard and the pages of the National Geographic. I found this image while I was scouring old slides that I inherited from my grandfather Fred after he passed away in 2010. What immediately struck me about the image was not the sight of my grandmother riding a camel – though that is quite a striking element in this image. Rather, it was the manner in which she was dressed. A white dress. On a camel. In Egypt in 1966. What was she thinking?   Clearly she had no intention of getting dirty, in a physical sense and a metaphoric sense. She would remain as untouched by her experience as she could possibly manage. She was a true colonial’s colonial whose interest in the geopolitical extended only to the naming of royal children and the live telecast of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. What is also striking about this image is its rarity amongst her collection of slides of her travels. The fact that...

Media arts, Space and Politics: Ahmed Basiony and the Transmission of Resonance

Introduction While journalists and the news media rushed to make sense of the uprising in Tahrir Square that ultimately led to the downfall of the Mubarak regime in Eygpt, another kind of sense was being made of these events by artists caught up in the protests. As artists often do, they were tapping into the feeling of the events unfolding in Tahrir Square during the protests as well as the feeling of being Egyptian and watching their world slowly crumble under the oppressive weight of a State out of touch with its people and desperately clinging to power. What artists tap into and through their work pass on when they engage with events such as this is resonance, described by Argentinean anthropologist Gaston Gordillo as the material-affective force that guides, and gives power to, the event of insurrections. Just as the many forms of media, including social media, relay resonance as a force across space both distributing it and reinforcing it, so too does the work of artists. This paper will examine how exhibitions of the work of Egyptian artist, Ahmed Basiony, tapped into the resonance that produced and was produced by the Tahrir Square uprising and allowed its force to continue to be distributed and be affective after the crowds had dispersed. Indeed, the power of Basiony’s work Thirty Days Running in The Place comes, I will argue, from the fact that it acts as a relay for the resonance produced in the Egyptian uprising.   Resonance and revolution Writing at the time of the uprising in Egypt, Gordillo observed: What has coalesced as a powerful, unstoppable force...
Unsettled: History, Time, Space and Belonging

Unsettled: History, Time, Space and Belonging

(Paper presented at Memefest Symposium 2014 – in development) I wanted to start this paper with a personal account. It went something like this. I am a settler. I try to belong. But I am never quite anchored to the land. I try to find purchase. I plant things. Try to grow them from seeds. Sometimes they take. And sometimes they don’t. This urge to find a place is in my blood. It is my heritage. I am imported. My ancestors were imported, sometimes by choice and sometimes because they were displaced by force. Or circumstance. This lingers in the ways in which I try to find a home, to make it mine, to make it me and me it and to attach my identity to it. But I can never really settle. I will always feel like I am from somewhere else. This is a common experience for those that live in a nation that was formed, built on the displacement of others. My displacement has no roots. I don’t really understand where I was displaced from. From China, from England, from Poland, from Ireland, I don’t know. I really know nothing about these places – I haven’t experienced belonging to any of them. The displaced should have a sense of where they have been displaced from. But I don’t. I only have Melbourne, Australia. But it is not mine. It belongs to those who were here before me, for thousands of years. I understand this but I have no idea about how it can be restored to them. Or if and where I can be restored to....

How can you be found….

So this is an old post but I am going to try to spend more time here writing than I currently do on Facebook. It’s such a paradox that Facebook seems to provide connection and a way out of social isolation and yet it is a product of the same alienating structures that cause the isolation and lack of connection in the first place. FCJ-101 How can you be found when no-one knows that you are missing? FibreCulture Journal 15,...