The Art of Fatigue

I’ve recently had cause to contemplate the impact of fatigue in our modern lives. I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill tiredness here. I’m talking ‘my body and mind has ceased to obey me and it’s decided to turn my world upside down until I stop’ type fatigue.

As serendipity would have it, this series of photographs titled Let the Poets Cry Themselves to Sleep, by Adrian Storey, found their way into my inbox. The photographs capture exhausted Tokyo commuters who have fallen asleep in all manner of poses/in all manner of places, overcome as they are by sheer exhaustion.

The images are a salient reminder of the pitfalls of the contemporary hamster wheel life. They’re also a reminder of the huge gap that exists in the portable pillow market.


Anatomy of Judgement

You have to hand it to Jane Elliot, that lady has some chutzpah. In her famous ‘brown eye, blue eye’ experiments, she turns the tables on the dominant white man’s view of the world by showing favour to the ethno-diverse brown-eyed participants while unkindly hammering the blue-eyed ‘whities’. Her techniques may be unorthodox but they lay bare the unpalatable existence of racial discrimination that dominates our world view.

After watching the documentary Anatomy of Prejudice it was hard not to feel a little sorry for her unsuspecting, often hapless, blue-eyed English participants.  It was fascinating to watch their brains implode as they grappled to acknowledge intractably embedded racial story-lines. This was a startling insight into our cultural unconscious at work. That deep-seated conditioning that helps shape the way we operate in world and how we respond to the other, the not me, that we encounter in our daily lives.

At times, it appeared as if the documentary became very dark theatre. You can see why her approach has been highly criticised. It’s like watching a car crash – riveting for all the wrong reasons. As an observer, it sometimes descended into what felt like pure spectacle, a cruel joke that was appealing to the voyeur in us all.

The viewer is given time to reflect on how repellent they find some the participant’s views. At the same time, they can comfort themselves from their armchairs that (as educated people) they know better. While the participants struggle with their own fears of the racial other, the viewer is being confronted by their own judgement of the ignorant other.

It’s the unrelenting and repetitious cycle of judgement that is ultimately the most frightening.

Gowanbrae Public Event

Here’s  some pics of the public event for the Gowanbrae Public Art Commission, a project CV was engaged to manage by Moreland City Council. It Was an awesome day so thanks to those who helped with the organisation. Special thanks to Public Assembly, our artists in residence for the day who designed the reinterpreted surveying equipment and led the community pilgrimage to the proposed site for the artwork.

Faith anyone?

Using the word ‘faith’ in conversation can be a bit of a social faux pas when you’re living in a predominantly secular country like Australia. It’s safe enough to utter if you’re travelling among new age journeymen or if you’re a religious devotee of the church/synagogue/mosque/temple-going kind (or stadium-going if you’re a more modern Pentecostal type). But to not belong to any of these groups and still bandy the word about can catalyse a raised eyebrow or a slow backing out of the room from friends and colleagues. If you’re feeling mischievous, drop the word into your next boardroom meeting then sit back and wait for the clamour to erupt.

I was recently at a funeral presided over by that most irreverent of reverends, Father Bob. By the time the service ended I was gob-smacked that the guy was still standing and that the Catholic church hadn’t hired an Opus Dei styled hit-man to silence him. At the beginning of the service he acknowledged the ‘toxic’ impact of the Catholic church on so many lives and offered an unreserved apology for it. After the eulogies had been read he commented that it was these eulogies that represented the ‘real religion’ that we had come to hear, not the liturgy or other ‘religious stuff’. He made no bones about he shortcomings of Catholicism and often differentiated between between church and God, with the former coming off second best.

Now this is a man of the cloth after my own heart. No doubt he’s walking a precarious line in the eyes of many, but to my mind he embodies the struggle of people who are searching for a more meaningful connection to their daily lives without necessarily wanting to sign up to the austerity and conformity often demanded by organised religion. If Father Bob had been the priest at my local St Mary’s of the Angels when I was growing up, I reckon I would have been chomping that the bit to get to church. It might have spared my father the need to deliver a tirade of insults about my recalcitrant ways and prophesize about my surefire descent into hell.

While I don’t plan to rush back into the warm bosom of the Catholic church anytime soon, Father Bob did remind me that it is OK to express a faith that exists in-between. His faith seemed to me to be one that resided in the space in-between the humanitarian values of Catholicism and social justice. My faith, I think, lies somewhere in that sticky relational space between the Self and the Other.