Keynote speaker Mandy Martin (with Alexander Boynes)

Listen across time: to echoes, memories and reverberations

9.30am Friday, August 28, 2020

Resource extraction has occurred in front of our eyes right across Australian landscapes as mines march across once arable land. Invisible extraction is even bigger, the Coal Seam Gas industry is ramping up, largely unseen and offshore, at an alarming rate, Western Australia in set to increase its carbon emissions as huge projects, like Abbott Point come on-line. This has happened with such rapidity that it is really only with the unfolding and tragic consequence accompanying unchecked climate change, including the destruction of Reefs around our coast, massive fires, dust storms and smoke hazards that we as a community, have really begun to understand what we have allowed to happen in this country. The implications of exceeding 330ppm carbon in our atmosphere have become frighteningly apparent and we are left stunned and disempowered. Meanwhile the big 6-10 Carbon extraction companies continue to dominate out emission outputs, they enjoy tax breaks which are unforgiveable and most of our politicians are captured by them. Shamefully, the Politics of Listening means our Prime minister and Energy minister have put their heads in the sand and continued their vendetta against those voices opposing this unmitigated greed and suicidal trajectory. Student Climate Strikers, Greta Thunberg, Getup, the Department of the Arts and the ABC have all come under attack and Morrison has only mumbled belatedly agreement about the effects of Climate Change. It hasn’t been so much, not listening as playing deaf, a passive form of bullying.

As Climate Change grips us all, we will increasingly work as families and small community of interest, like this symposium, to cope and find solutions. Listening and hearing are two different things, sometimes we need to be nudged.  I work with a small ARI (artist run initiative) to create monumental artworks which aim to encourage audiences to speculate and we believe deliver some hope. We created “Luminous Relic” and “Rewriting the score” in communities transitioning from the carbon industries to sustainable industries. These 10-metre long installations which Listen across time: to echoes, memories and reverberations combine my painted canvases with video and sound. My canvases are a sublime and humanist critique of the “quarry vision” afflicting our country and at the root of the environmental collapses we are currently living.

Alexander Boynes in his 3 Channel 4K video tackles the complex issues, political, environmental and fundamentally social that are occurring right now and for the visible future in Australia, depicting dramas of an epic scale and fatal consequence. He questions the industries which are so destructive of regional landscapes and economies.

Tristen Parr’s musical scores bring gravitas and melancholy to the social scenarios underpinning resource extraction in Australia giving voice to the workers and communities who become the collateral damage, his music opens a space for speculation about climate change and solace to those suffering anxiety, Solastalgia, about our future. (Note: Tristen is currently in the Kimberley, WA, and may not be able to attend.)

Our work Listens to literally draw the background to the foreground of thought as the iceshelf of Greenland, engulfs Corio Wharf in Geelong and the fires in the Hazelwood open cut coal mine in the Latrobe valley, fragment the atmosphere.

  • As well as her keynote speech, Mandy Martin will be in discussion with Margaret Woodward, hosted by Tracy Sorensen, titled Foregrounding the background at 11.30am on Friday August 28, 2020.

Mandy Martin has held numerous exhibitions in Australia, Mexico and the USA. She has also been exhibited in France, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Italy. Her works are in many public and private collections including the National Gallery of Australia, most state collections and regional galleries and the Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne. In the USA she is represented in the Guggenheim Museum New York, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno and many private collections.

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