1. Maladaptation presents activist-on-the-run Bev Smiles as the Meryl Streep character in Kaufman’s film Adaptation. Bev recently won her case against the NSW Police and the Wilpinjong Coal Mine that tested the new state anti-protest legislation. In one reading, Maladaptation points to the way that stereotypes and hyppereal plotlines are being extended into our everyday lives to frame the type of active citizenship required today as criminality, as part of making anyone vulnerable to removal or extradition without a blink of the public eye.
Nicholas Cage plays the central screenwriter character in Adaptation and he succumbs to writing a formulaic blockbuster ending to his film that sells out on Streep’s character. She spirals down into a drug-and-sex-crazed out-of-control criminal and Bev eventually spills into her hysterical state too. However, unlike Streep, Bev is not led from a detached existential crisis, but from her first hand experience of fracking, logging, mining and damming as business-as-usual in our national parks.
Bev also gets caught in roles of the film’s other two main characters where the Kaufman plotline of the thief collecting orchids for his own obsession is replaced with her collecting seeds to protect species. Bev hides out in Cage’s role in the national park from the thief and the authorities, retracing the history of Australian heroes who have had to choose this way of life to survive.
The gallery installation includes the manuka plant seedlings and related elements show my botanist directed journey to a plant 600 kilometres away that produces the best quality manuka honey in mainland Australia. The seeds from the sixty plants grown from the seedpods collected will be distributed within seedsaving and native bee networks. Similar to Bev’s efforts against coalmining, this element explores the breaking of rules as citizen science to provide assistance to the maintenance and expansion of the commons.
Image: Meryl Streep as Bev Smiles in Maladaptation, previously Orlean in Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze’s film Adaptation (2002).
2. Solastalgia was a multi-screen train-carriage installation and performance that mashed up Fahrenheit 451 with the Irish Potato Genocide, to add an economic crisis to the social and political vacuum that Bradbury created. Coalmining-impacted community members performed as the books and excerpts from Truffaut’s filmic version of the book were projected through windows and doors. Cementa_15, contemporary arts festival, Kandos – 2015. Feature articles in the national journals Southerly and Artlink 2016.
3. The hitchhiker’s guide to the Symbiocene explores Glenn Albrecht’s psychoterratic typology that covers responses to global warming and development, and provides a new conceptual foundation for thinking about relationships. Collaborator: Glenn Albrecht. Screening: New York Film Anthologies and the Experimental Film, Audio & Performance Festival Florianópolis Brazil – 2017, and Studio Ra Rome and Articulate project space Sydney – 2016.
4. Tied, Mayday 2006 was a community scripted funerary performance held with members of the Pacific Island Mount Druitt Action Network on the Indigenous owned Tribal Warrior. The boat’s interior housed screens that showed member interviews about the tide risings, intercut with animation sequences of the melting performance ice forms. Farm Cove, Sydney. Funded by the City of Sydney. Screenings: ANU Fine Art Gallery Canberra (Highly Commended Phoenix Spiritual Prize), Galleria Metropolitana Santiago Chile, Loose Projects Sydney and Shoreditch Gallery, London – 2006.
5. Burnt Stars creatively interprets the life and legacy of German-born political thinker Hannah Arendt (1906–1975), by focussing on the importance she placed on the role of ethics, shared action and remembrance as part of community citizenship. This is shown through the actions of Hamburg activist Annalena Kirchler who counters the other positions of being in the world presented in Joseph Beuys’ fictional Tartar rescue, which is extended to include a crash-landing onto Martin Heidegger’s hut. Kirchler also plays Arendt, mapping her personal experiences in the Gurs prison camp against her theorisation on the importance of poetic thinking for revolutionary action and how remembrance is lost through the dead tradition (German DAAD scholarship). Screening: Statt Berlin – 2013. Multi-screen installation: Burnt Stars, Articulate Project Space, Sydney – 2015.
SCREEN 1. Joseph Beuys crash lands on Heidegger’s hut to set the story in motion. He describes his journey of redemption. (Projected onto hessian on floor)
SCREEN 2. Hannah Arendt’s project on remembrance is described through her writing on how poetic thinking can provide the tools for revolutionary thinking and how the dead tradition is a form of forgetfulness. (Projected onto monitor under stairs)
SCREEN 3. On the outside of Heidegger’s hut is a copy of Hannah Arendt’s famous diary entry Heidegger the fox, which describes the trap Heidegger set for others that resulted in his own entrapment. Inside the hut Heidegger indulges in his linguistic tricks to try to explain away his Nazism in his essay The Question Concerning Technology . (Projected on back wall)
SCREEN 4. On the ferris wheel Hamburg resident Annalena Kirchler finds her will to act when she confronts Harry Lime from the Third Man / Martin Shrekli (American entrepreneur and pharmaceutical executive whose price-gouging activities in 2015 update Lime’s behaviour of selling diluted penicillin to children dying from meningitis). She creates an anti-gentrification project to stimulate interest in the threatened neighbouring Schiller-Oper. (Projected onto felt column wall on platform)
6. Placing stones as they are found explores mining and globalism from the contradictory careful singular action of “undoing” the trajectory of a few small decorative Chinese stones based on advice from people encountered in China. Funded by the Australia-China Council residency program, and supported by NAVA and the NSW MInistry for the Arts 2005. Screenings: Loose Projects Sydney – 2006.