Month: October 2014

Climate change, a clarion call for the arts

September 26 2014

Nadyat El Gawley

In a week when thousands marched across the globe calling for action ahead of the UN Climate Summit, Australian artists were asking how will we live?

As part of the fifth Sydney Fringe Festival, 14 artists and architects have collaborated to explore domestic spaces in an era of environmental destruction. The work is presented by Branch3D in the Sydney suburb of Forest Lodge, and is set in a private home with a difference: there’s a shop front entrance.

Sarah Nolan, who lives in the house and is director of Branch3D, has been using the shop front window as a gallery. Passers by have enjoyed the art, and the festival has drawn a wider audience. People are “intrigued about a show of artworks throughout a … private house,” said Nolan.

The site-specific work, Bunkered, takes visitors through the impact on domestic life when the outside world becomes hostile.

“I like the idea that a bunker can mean so many things… hiding yourself or disguising yourself,” says one of the participating artists, Lisa Andrew. Her work, Droom, is an exploration of what she calls the “make do” future possible in a world ravaged by climate change.

Andrew’s work is installed in a bedroom. It is a fabric construction surrounding a bed with inkjet images of wood, brick and cardboard. A place to hide or shelter in, as Bunkered’s catalogue essayist Yvette Hamilton writes.

But it’s the dramatic text stamped on the installation the visitor first notices: “Australia told to feed region or face invasion.” It’s a screen shot from an ABC news report two years ago when it reported a speech by the head of the Australian Agricultural Company.

Detail: Droom by Lisa Andrew. Photo: N. El Gawley
Detail: Droom by Lisa Andrew.
Photo: N. El Gawley

“When I first took the photograph it seemed so out there,” says Andrew. “I was gleaning from surfaces around us to construct this incubating space that would almost be kind of camouflaged that you could exist in another way within it and not be noticed. So in a way I was playing a lot more on the actual idea of the word bunker.”

Droom is located alongside a video installation titled Emergency News Broadcast. It’s a live news report going wrong, with the anchor and reporters unable to connect, adding to the anxiety in the space.

Emergency Broadcast, Kuba Dorabiaski Photo: N. El Gawley
Emergency Broadcast, Kuba Dorabiaski
Photo: N. El Gawley

In an observation on how instant news is incapable of giving audiences context in crises, artist Kuba Dorabiaski shows us what happens when “Everything has collapsed.”  In her artist statement, she asks: “ What do they report when everything is news and nothing is anything anymore?”

“To me it’s about things not working. They can’t hear each other, they can’t communicate to the public because things are shutting down,” said Sarah Nolan.

Climate change is an issue Australian artists are increasingly addressing. Writing in the Guardian last year, lecturer and art critic Andrew Frost said concerns around climate change are shaping new Australian art. ‘’The return of landscape and nature as major themes is undeniable,’’ he said.

Climarte, a Melbourne based organisation working with artists on climate change joined the thousands strong march in Victoria Saturday September 20 as part of the global protests on the issue.

On the group’s Facebook page, they say artists need to make a choice.

“This is an invitation to join others who work, live and play in the arts in taking a stand. It is time for us to come together, as representatives of all that is creative, imaginative and hopeful in humanity.”

Climarte at Melbourne’s march for climate action. Source: Facebook
Climarte at Melbourne’s march for climate action.
Source: Facebook

The organisation has run forums and engaged with thinkers on the issue. Next year, in collaboration with arts institutions, it will hold the ‘Arts+Climate=Change 2015’ festival to make climate change a focus for the arts and its audiences.

Back at Forest Lodge, Lisa Andrew points out how the artworks connect with the house.

“A lot of the work is site specific,” she said. “These were lodged into the space to bring attention to the architecture and the living environment.”

From Reporter to Refugee

Diamond_miners-1-

The Media Report
Thursday 17 July 2008 8:32AM
From Reporter to Refugee

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/mediareport/stories/2008/2302955.htm

Edison and Sonny are journalists. They fled the bloodshed of Sierra Leone to start a new life in Sydney. But the past is always with them—and explaining and documenting it is now the core of their work here in Australia.

The Sydney Sacred Music Festival 2014

Rehearsing at Sydwest in Blacktown, the chamber orchestra jams work around life and death. This is part of a performance for the Sydney Sacred Music Festival coming up in September. Performers are: Richard Petkovic, Assim Gorashi, Yaw Derkyi, Shohrat Tursun, Mark Szeto and Victor Valdes.

This was recorded as part of an upcoming series of stories for ABC radio on Arab and African communities. The series is called Crossroads and features the work of poets, musicians, artists and communities engaged in social change. Crossroads is being produced for Life Matters on Radio National.

Coffee Break

coffee

The Night Air
Sunday 3 August 2008 8:00PM
Coffee Break,

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/nightair/coffee-break/3251722

Time for a cuppa! In your daily coffee cup there are stories: about people, the environment, liberation struggles, friendship and art.

Coffee has helped mostly city-dwellers create outdoor cultures and social rituals, come up with new ideas and negotiate relationships. Yet the story of coffee is also about relationships between rich and poor.

In the home of coffee–’Ethiopia–coffee farmers rarely get a fair price for their beans—a fact of life for most coffee producing countries.

Come with Nadyat El Gawley she travels through time to Sydney’s earliest coffee houses and Melbourne’s contemporary coffee culture. We visit Australian brigadistas picking coffee beans in Nicaragua over 20 years ago, question advertising and dive into caffeine obsession. And after your latte, cappuccino and macchiato—shake your body to a rich Night Air blend of caffeinated music from across the coffee-growing and coffee-quaffing world.

Use My Body As A Bridge To The other Side Of The River

Muslim women, Australia Day Parade, 2010
Muslim women,
Australia Day Parade, 2010 Michael Coghlan, Flickr, CC

Street Stories
Wednesday 21 September 2005 1:30PM
Use My Body As A Bridge To The other Side Of The River

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/streetstories/use-my-body-as-a-bridge-to-the-other-side-of-the/3364574

This program is a journey alongside three Melbourne women from Muslim communities who share their stories of change. Confronting stereotypes with good humour and thoughtfulness, Reem, Nazife and Suzanne break through barriers of sexism – in their own and in broader Australian cultural landscapes – to assert their own identities.

With much courage and candour the women reveal the personal dimensions of escaping wars and communities and finding dreams.

No Excuse Not to Know

Jewish voices for peace

No Excuse Not to Know
Street Stories
Sunday 16 November 2008 1:30PM

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/streetstories/no-excuse-not-to-know/3179812

From within the Jewish Australian community voices of dissent are emerging, people who are challenging the mainstream version of the history of Israel and the current conflict the country is involved in. They speak about how they came to their understanding of history and the friends they have lost as a result.

Israel’s official history has been challenged for some time now by Israel’s New Historians and one of the latest books challenging Israel’s historical narrative has come from Israeli society itself. Avraham Burg’s The Holocaust Is Over argues that Israel’s use of the holocaust has created a nation with a self image of victimhood, which allows all sorts of atrocities against The Palestinians…

‘be it fences, sieges … curfews, food and water deprivation or unexplained killings. All is permitted because we have been through the Shoah (catastrophe) and you will not tell us how to behave.’

In Australia, where the largest community of holocaust survivors lives, it has been difficult to break through the grip of the belief that Israel is the solution to ending discrimination and persecution of Jews, and must always be defended.

But, this emerging voice among the Australian Jewish community is questioning the dominant story and actively supports Palestinian aspirations for justice and peace in their homeland.

We speak to three Australian Jews who have thoughtfully and courageously spoken out, acted in support of Palestinians and battled their own families and communities to live their lives with integrity and candour.

Doggone

September 3 2014

Nadyat El Gawley

Leading animal and transport advocacy groups have criticised the sudden decision by Transport for NSW to ban dogs from the light rail in the inner west.

The ban has come after months of allowing commuters to take their pets on the trams since the service opened in March.

Michael Wright from Animal Medicines Australia says the decision was regrettable. “It would be disappointing if we approached human animal interaction in an overly risk-averse way,” he said.

IMG_0225
Hawthorne light rail station overlooking the Hawthorne Canal Reserve leash free dog park in Leichhardt. Photo: N. El Gawley

Dulwich Hill resident and dog owner Charlotte Manne was planning to visit Leichhardt’s dog park on the tram and was unaware of the ban.

“We have very few dog parks, so you need a bit of community engagement to find out what we actually want,” Ms Manne said.

“We’re at  a loss as to who made this decision and why. We will be asking the Minister to clarify,” said a spokesperson for NSW Greens senator Jamie Parker, via email.

“We’ve spoken to a number of residents in the area who are angered by the ban.”

“One pensioner had to make a four hour trip – on foot – as when arriving at the station, was told the dog was not allowed on the light rail, ” the spokesperson said.

Dogs NSW said state governments are ’unresponsive’ and ‘ out of step’ with the times.

“Australia is one of the highest dog owning countries in the world,” said spokesperson Brian Crump. “We believe … public opinion would support … dogs on public transport.”

Animal welfare consultant Maryann Dalton says there’s plenty of room for discussion on this.

“If they were to introduce a policy of allowing dogs on public transport, there should be particular carriages or services available to accommodate the animals and their owners,” she said.

With 63 per cent pet ownership, Australia is estimated by Animal Medicines Australia to have one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world.

Their latest survey, Pet Ownership in Australia 2013, shows dogs to be the most common pet, with 39 percent of households owning a dog.

This change in lifestyle will “increase pressure on the authorities [to provide services]” said Co-Convener of Ecotransit Sydney Gavin Gatenby.

IMG_0245
Gavin Gatenby and his Dingo Jesse at Sydney Dog Park in St Peters. Photo: N. El Gawley

The non profit group which works on public transport issues points to European countries where dogs have been able to travel on public transport.

“It’s just regarded as part of life,” he says.

IMG_0221
Mustapha Altinci and his rescued Rhodesian Ridgeback at Hawthorne Canal Reserve, Leichhardt. Photo: N. El Gawley

Dog owner and Leichhardt resident Mustapha Altinci said: “If it’s technically possible in any other country, it should be allowed in Australia.”

Transport for NSW and the transport minister’s office have not responded to requests for comment.