Juukan Caves Anniversary / Virtual Indigenous Film Fest 2021

Yesterday marks 1 year since the destruction of the Juukan Shelters, a traditional site of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinnikura (PKKP) peoples located in the Pilbara area in the northwest of Western Australia.

If you’ve been following this blog for the last few months you’ll know that I have made the facts of that event; the amount of time that the PKKP peoples had accessed and used the shelters – 46,000 years; the number of holes drilled into the shelters before the PKKP peoples were told of its impending blast – 382; and the reason they were destroyed – for more iron ore; into a large installation made from predominantly recycled steel.

I remember that the shock of finding out about this destruction was all the more galling because it came at the beginning of last year’s Reconciliation Week. This time last year, during the Indigenous Film Festival, I stayed on to see several Q+A’s for just-screened films. I watched as multiple hosts had to engage not only with the content of the films that they were charged with speaking about (generally involving weighty cross-cultural issues themselves), but also the Juukan destruction, as it filtered through the collective consciousness in the week following its detonation. The shock and sadness was all-pervading, and so it made its way into many of the question and answer sessions during the festival.

Watching it unfold in the media against this backdrop was heart-sinking, as here was a fresh way that government and corporate interests in Australia had failed our First Nations community. At the time it was a particularly unwanted extra burden, following as it did a bushfire season that had threatened and then razed so much of the east coast, and during a lockdown for a pandemic that many feared would be particularly serious for First Nations communities here, as many face poorer health outcomes than the general population.

It was immediately protested, and it would become an important fuel for us masked marchers at the Black Lives Matter rallies held here in Perth over last winter. And for me. It was and remains an important fuel for my practice, too.

And having mentioned the Indigenous Film Festival:

[text below from the IFF newsletter of this morning]

There is only 3 days left to secure your spot at the Virtual Indigenous Film Festival for Reconciliation Week 2021! Celebrating a collection of award-winning Indigenous stories, followed by Q&As with special guest speakers including film makers, community leaders and cultural academics. Join us in celebration this Reconciliation Week from 27th-31st May for a week of inspiring stories and inclusive, actionable discussion. 

National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements. This year’s theme, #MoreThanAWord reminds us to always be working towards braver and more impactful action so take that action and join this years Virtual Indigenous Film Festival.

Grab an All Access Pass for 50% off all 6 films OR if you are interested in just one film, grab an individual ticket!

fanforcetv.com

and just quietly, I have to acknowledge my financial supporter for the Juukan Tears project:

Thanks to the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries in Western Australia for their financial support of this project

Today’s Q + A

For your delectation and delight, I present the live stream feed from today, conveniently queued up to the start of our q + a chat! We chatted, we answered questions, we got off topic (prompted by a comment, though) and I ranted, just a little.

As you would guess there’s 1 hr 24 mins of me grinding and making before this point, and after we’re done – there’s about an hour of talking – we get back to same, gradually finishing this piece. In that one hour we’re talking about the process, the reasons why we’re streaming at all, the changes to the studio between streams and how we plan to get this work out of this place and into the gallery, making this a good addition to the original Q + A we did in February (also below, so you can fully appreciate our changing hair styles.)

As you can note even in the screen grabs you see now, the major differences are 1/ the size of the work on the left hand size of the room, and 2/ the fact that today we were masked while talking. It’s not ideal, so I am sorry about that, but we were on schedule to have masks off indoors on when I planned this chat. Owing to a new COVID-19 case, that region-wide directive changed late Saturday afternoon. We got off ok, really, the football had to be played without a live audience so we were just foloowing the same rules, and are obviously just as popular 😉

Thanks for checking in, or at least enjoying the screen grabs, and I’ll be back in touch soon when I finish this piece. Very soon!

xx m

Submission deadline extended!

Friends and Supporters of the Uluru Dialogue 
 
The government last week announced they have extended public submissions on a voice to parliament to Friday, 30 April. This gives you four more weeks to voice your support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart and a First Nations Voice to Parliament protected by the Constitution. 
 
Nothing has changed. We are pushing ahead with our message that a First Nations Voice to Parliament must be protected by the Constitution.

IT’S TIME! Voice submissions extended! – email from the Indigenous Law Centre

Further to my post of last week, there’s now a whole month for you to make your submissions. See the Uluru Statement Supporter Kit for more details. I used their Submission Generator which made the process super easy, and got mine done on a Sunday afternoon. Please add your voice to those asking for constitutional protection of a First Nations voice to parliament. It’s time.

Oh Pittsburgh

Today I was just going to share the articles from Contemporary Craft’s (CC’s) latest email circular about the Transformations exhibition. But there’s another mass shooting to address first, in Squirrel Hill, just a few neighbourhoods across from The Strip District where CC is currently located. In the reporting I read, the shooter “used three Glock 357 handguns and an AR-15 assault rifle” to murder 11 people and injure four police officers.

The victims are:

“Joyce Fienberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65, Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and his brother David Rosenthal, 54; married couple Bernice Simon, 84, and Sylvan Simon, 86; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 88; and Irving Younger, 69.”

America, I know you know this, but your right to bear arms comes with the implicit flip-side; an expectation that you, your friend, your lover, your child….

Deep breath in.

Sigh.

 

The articles that talk about the Transformations work are one by M. Thomas, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Jordan Snowden of the Pittsburgh City Paper. Thank you to both writers, and especially M. Thomas for the research you did, and for quoting this blog.

Monday/Tuesday Gun-Day

Please excuse me my tardiness, Alexa ate my homework… OK, now I’m lying on top of being late – as if I’d trust a robot to do my data mining. I was actually enjoying some sun in LA over the weekend with Turbo, to celebrate a few anniversaries – one of which I mentioned last week – and catching up with Kaoru Rogers, fellow jeweller and (serial) immigrant.

But now it’s back down the data mine.

Aaron Patrick Presley (the 37 year old is also reported as being called Patrick Presley,) was killed just before 5am in a tavern in Milwaukee. Tiron J. Grant (31) allegedly shot Presley after Presley confronted him when he said hello and grabbed the hand of a woman in the bar, who turned out to be Presley’s fiancée. I could find no further details about progress in the case against Grant beyond charges and the preliminary hearing date – January 13th 2017. The only mention of the weapon was that a revolver, and the suspect’s clothes, were hidden by the suspect in alleyway garbage bins near the tavern.

I’ve drawn one revolver so far, the Ruger Single Six .22 from incident #15, as a .22 caliber was specified in the reporting that I unearthed. I had a hunch that there was a more common revolver, so after a quick dig, I give you the Smith & Wesson Model 10. Why this weapon? Well, on Wikipedia’s list of most produced firearms it sits at the top of revolvers with 6 million units sold. This makes it the biggest selling revolver ever (at least on that list), though given that it’s been in continuous production since 1899, the Model 10 has had over 100 years to climb to that spot – which on that chart makes for a slow build rather than a meteoric rise (but then confirming sales data for 100 years is somewhat of a tall order). By comparison, the already featured Glock 17 is listed just below the Model 10 with a low estimate of production of 6 million and a high of 10 million. It has only been in production since 1982, so that in itself is an indication of the rapid increase in the global gun population.

It’s also interesting to note that it is “previously known as the Smith & Wesson .38 Hand Ejector Model of 1899, the Smith & Wesson Military & Police or the Smith & Wesson Victory Model.” Thanks Wikipedia.

Smith & Wesson Model 10

I’ve already drawn a weapon that is known as the Smith & Wesson Military & Police, which you might recall is a pistol.  It’s nice to know that Smith & Wesson like to keep their branding current while getting to add a certain old-school, or perhaps I should say, time honoured, vibe, thanks to some cleverly manufactured “continuity.”

Monday – Gun Day

When I wrote about Sir Bob Geldof a few weeks back, I forgot to insert my infinitesimal anecdote. My family were celebrating the 21st birthday of the youngest of my siblings a few years back at an ever-popular riverside restaurant in my home town of Perth…

Quick aside: about a week or so back, on finding out that I came from the western-most Australian capital city, my Lyft driver said, “Most isolated city in the world!” It’s the achingly familiar catch-cry of residents and visitors alike, to which I’m not sure that I actually hold because there are plenty of other contenders, like Auckland, or Honolulu, or others that you can google. BTW, Lyft-er had been to my home town, and proceeded to tell me about happy times spent at The Court Hotel and Connections. As my fellow Perthlings can attest, they knew how to have a good time!

…Anyway, sitting outdoors at fancy restaurant surrounded by large family-of-origin and their spouses, and who walks in to also sit on the balcony, but the aforementioned knighted gentleman! “WTF is he doing in Perth?” was on the lips of the collected Cameron party. Til someone remembered that it was St Patrick’s Day. In our defense, we were all focused on other celebrations – the birthday dinner had been slightly delayed to coincide with Turbo and I coming to town in time for the impending nuptials of a couple also seated at that table. March is a big month for me and my people 😉

St Patrick’s Day is also the anniversary of my move to the US, which happened in 2012. Yup, six years this Saturday. A little while back I realised that I’ve practiced here longer than I have – in either of my careers – within Australia. Explains a few things..

Well, that was an unusually gentle introduction. Now the guns.

We start this week in Cobb County, Georgia, where a Canton resident, Chad Erik Roberts (35) was killed by two officers of the Woodstock Police Department, Matt Davis and William Vincent. Roberts had first contact with the police at 10:09pm on the 31st of December, when he was stopped in a parking lot next to a gas station. From the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger-News:

“The driver of the vehicle initially spoke to the officer but then fled in his vehicle, striking the officer,” Rich said. “Officers with the Canton Police Department pursued the vehicle into the Woodstock area.”

Woodstock Police and Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office deputies joined in on the chase and a tire deflation device was used to disable Roberts’ vehicle, which came to a stop in the northbound lanes of Interstate 75 near the Wade Green Road exit, investigators said.

“The driver exited the vehicle and presented a gun during contact with law enforcement,” Rich said. “Two officers with the Woodstock Police Department fired their weapons during the incident. The driver sustained gunshot wounds and died as a result of his injuries.”

Later in the same article, it states that, “The Canton officer who was hit by the man’s car was transported to a local hospital, treated and released, Canton Police Chief Mark Mitchell said.” while the two officers who shot Roberts were put on administrative leave pending an investigation.

With initial contact between the police and Rogers around 10pm – where he apparently ran over the foot of an officer as he departed – my thought was to double-check that this shooting was not misfiled as a January 1 event. But it turns out that at 2am, around four hours later, the shooting took place on the blocked-off interstate highway, once the victim/”driver exited the vehicle and presented a gun during contact with law enforcement.” (From the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.) If you think it sounds odd, you’re not alone, and it being an officer-involved crime has given it a bit of extra attention.

I was unable to find out anything about the guns of any of the people involved. The Woodstock Police Department falls in Cherokee County, GA, and after much research I found out that they carry the Glock 23. It’s not the best reference, but the neighbouring Cobb County PD publish in their policy documents that they use a Glock 22, so this choice has a bit of weight behind it. Georgia’s law enforcement seem to have a lot of Glocks in their register, and they probably belong to a huge swathe of the rest of the population due to Georgia’s “Guns Everywhere” laws, (Al Jazeera) as well as a couple of cities who have managed to make owning guns mandatory. (I am not linking to that data.) The 23 is meant to have the same dimensions as the Glock 19, excepting weight, to account for the slightly bigger round you can fire in the 23. And the 19 is a slightly scaled-down version of the 17, which is the first officer-fired gun that I drew in this series.

So here’s my second Glock, but the first drawing of a Glock 23. There’s two, one each for Davis and Vincent, the officers who fired on Rogers.

Glock 23

Glock 23

A mentally ill man, James E Lewis, was shot by police near Silver Springs Park, Missouri, at around 3:20am after other forms of pacification had failed. Lewis made the 9-1-1 call to the police revealing his location, during which he threatened to kill his wife – actually his domestic partner, who family members later said were in the process of breaking up. Police revealed that there had been 60 – 65 interactions with Lewis over the course of his life – from burglary to other mental health issues.

Lewis was on a bicycle and had a prolonged – 11 minute – encounter during which he fired his weapon (the officers did not feel threatened at this point so continued with other negotiation methods) and refused to speak with the officers. Only when he pointed the weapon at the officers from a distance of about 10 feet, did three of them open fire at Lewis. Officers Joshua Brown, Daniel Carlson and Brandon Gonzales have been placed on leave pending an investigation.

By contrast with the first incident this week, the guns that officers in the Springfield Police Department carry were easy to find in their Standard Operating Guidelines. The Department Issued Handgun is a Glock 9mm semi-automatic handgun. There are a lot of Glocks that take a 9mm cartridge, so I’m going to go with the one I used for the Chicago PD earlier, the Glock 17. Three of them, because of the three police who fired at Lewis.

Glock 17

Glock 17

Glock 17

 

Monday – Gun Day

It occurred to me earlier this morning that writing this post is why currently I don’t like Mondays. At the thought, I started singing the eponymous-ly titled The Boomtown Rats song in my head. And then the vague memory pushed its way in, that the song is about something…

Just to clarify why Geldof (or Sir Bob, if you will,) wrote the song, I brushed up on my history. It is about shooting spree in San Diego committed by Brenda Ann Spencer, in 1979, at an elementary school, which resulted in the death of two adults (the principal and a custodian both trying to protect the kids) and injured eight children and a police officer. Spencer gave her reason to a reporter: “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.” (That second link, a Snopes article, is the source for the identities of the dead, and is an interesting read.)

With that sprinkling of feet-dragging now behind me, it’s time to get to the issue at hand.

Juan Manuel Belmarez (35) was killed in Edcouch, Tx at around 5pm. He was killed whilst in a white SUV, which was pictured afterward peppered with multiple bullet holes in the windscreen. As his father recounts it in an article appealing for witnesses four months after the event, he must have faced an ambush to have been shot from two directions, with the vehicle hit 39 times. The Texas Rangers are investigating, but there is no information about the assailants, or the guns used in the crime. With that many shorts fired hand guns seem a less likely culprit, but with nothing else to go on that’s what I’ll use.

Gun crime #21 is a rarity, and gets both default pistols.

Ruger SR1911 – Default Pistol 1

Default Pistol 2 – S&W M&P

Another drug deal gone bad. According to the Tampa Bay Times, teenager Jayquon Johnson (17) was killed by the hand gun of 16 year old Cody Quinn, in Quinn’s mother’s garage, in Valrico, Florida.  It is alleged that Johnson pulled a gun on Quinn in an attempt to steal the drugs he was buying from Quinn, after which Quinn pulled a weapon from his waistband and fired on Johnson, who later died in hospital. On hearing the shots in her garage, Heidi Quinn ran outside and took both guns away from the boys, and started to bury them, before changing her mind and replacing them and calling the cops.

In April it was revealed that Cody would not face murder charges as his self-defense argument could not be refuted by investigators, but as he was selling marijuana, and a safe containing same as well as oxycodone pills was found inside the house, both mother and son are facing other charges, hers relating to evidence tampering and his to unlawful gun possession and other drug charges. As Heidi Quinn’s first trial resulted in a deadlocked jury, a mistrial was called. She was due to be tried again in December. No news on her sons trial.

Default Pistol 1, again.

Ruger SR1911 – Default Pistol 1

Romoan J. Mitchell, a 40-year-old Henrico County man, was reported missing in late 2016 before he was found fatally shot New Year’s Day 2017 in Richmond.

(quote taken from the Richmond Times – Dispatch, and their article about the 67 Richmond homicides in 2017)

He was found around 10:30am on the 1st by an officer around the 3400 block on Belt Boulevard. The Medical Examiner determined the death was by gunshot wound. He was found in a wooded area and the type of bullet and speculation on the gun that fired it were not mentioned. DP2, again.

Default Pistol 2 – S&W M&P

Deandre Berry (27) was found shot around 9:40pm on Jan 1st. He was taken to hospital where he died. There is no suspect and no gun known, though “a man was seen fleeing the scene wearing a light colored hooded sweatshirt” according to WLWT5 news website. When searching for more details I found a crowdfunding page set up by family to pay for his funeral. DP1

Ruger SR1911 – Default Pistol 1

I just learned that there is a publicly accessible page (Wiki) documenting homicides in New Orleans in 2017, made by the NolaMessenger.com. What a great piece of community reporting/tech. This was in my search for details on Tarik Smith, alleged killer of forty year old Joseph Smith, in Mid-Town, New Orleans around 2:20pm on New Years Day. The shooter was identified when he turned himself into police, accompanied by his attorney, on January 12 of the same year. It was not known if they were related at the time of reporting. He was charged with second degree murder. It was reported that 8 or 9 shots were fired, and Joseph Smith died at the scene. No gun details. DP2

Default Pistol 2 – S&W M&P

Five more gun killings recorded, with 6 more unknown guns. And we have reached gun crime 25, and the end of page 1 on the Gun Violence Archive site.

Monday – gun day

In a not-so-happy coincidence, on the same day that many of us found out about the latest mass killing in the USA, I received the cheque for the sale of my Gun work to the University of Iowa Museum of Art.

So here’s a little about work, for which I began the research in December 2012, and finally finished the last part of about a year later, in early 2014.

Gun (2013/2014) consists of:
154 @ 30 rpm – scale 1:4
60m
(scale 1:4)
AR-15 (bandolier)

The work Gun (a suite of three wearable pieces) is from the Escalation series. The works in Escalation are each made from domestic objects, taken out of their usual context and transformed into loaded jewels. Together the complete series reflects thousands of years of human history, the history we have of making weapons of war. The works (there is at least two wearable items for each ‘piece’) are loosely grouped into branches, based on the proximity to which the assailant would have to have to the victim (and vice versa) when used, which makes the whole Escalation project into a kind of family tree of tools for killing.

The Gun work is the Sword’s companion on one branch, as I see the gun as the successor to the sword in close combat situations. Rifles were the earliest effective firearms, so it was not a huge leap to use the Bushmaster XM15-E2S as my gun archetype. Sold as a hunting rifle in the USA, it is “a variant of the AR-15 first built by ArmaLite,”[i] “as an assault rifle for the United States armed forces.” (also known as the M16)[ii]. This Bushmaster is the weapon that was used for the Newtown massacre in 2012. If you see the whole series together, it becomes more obvious that this piece is the only one in my Escalation series that does not focus the wartime outcomes of a particular weapon. In making this exception, I wanted to make the point that these military grade weapons are available far too easily to the citizens of the US, and thus are in the homes and lives of ordinary people, which results in the premature deaths of this country’s most vulnerable citizens.

I made this piece from a strangely long and slightly medical-looking tray I bought new, at Daiso. I gave it 30 full-sized NATO shells (I chose there to depict the military round rather than the hunting round made by Remington), as 30 is the magazine’s capacity. I made 77 holes in the tray in the unfired bullet diameter, and strung the 77 cutouts on steel cable, which together add up to the 154 bullets expended within the school. The gun is made at 1:4 scale, making it very obvious to wear and more realistic than the miniature gun bling that is occasionally in fashion. The neckpiece with the 77 cutouts is 15m/40′ long, to represent, again at 1:4 scale (full scale being at least 60m/197′) the minimum distance that the shooter would have traversed inside of the school. I read the police report and literally plotted the shooter’s movements onto a floor plan of the school that I found online, to calculate the approximate length.

Finally, in all the pictures that accompany this series, I am wearing the works. They are photos I took of myself, by myself, and when these works are shown, they were a part of the display. It is important that the works, and the troubling histories that they represent, are on me. Like they are on all of humanity. And I for one am not at all happy about it.

[i] ‘AR-15’. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, 26 April 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=AR-15&oldid=551188045.

[ii] Ibid.

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5 years

Australia and the USA from the Coat Hanger series, 2012. Recycled steel, steel, vitreous enamel.

St Patrick’s day; the middle day of 3 straight days of anniversaries, for me. From the image above I think it’s easy enough to guess what happened to me on the 17th of March 2012. My life, my work, everything changed. But, one can say that about every day that we get to share on this planet. For me, this last 5 years has been full of days like these.

Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box

Image of Tanya Lippe's Lunch Box - pre transformation
Image of Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box – pre transformation

In answer to a reader question; yes, the material that makes the work My House – Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box is all from Tanya’s old lunch box, barring the stainless steel rivets, c-shaped connections, chain (handmade and otherwise) and cable that joins the altered parts together.

In fact there’s actually a few parts missing. The plastic handle and chrome fittings are not part of the design, and there is a series of five small pins (about 27 x 4mm each) that are not part of the installation. One of these I have kept (not a habit of mine, but these were particularly meaningful to me, in a piece that became surprisingly personal over the course of the design and making), and four were given to Micki before the piece was installed.

What you can’t see in this image is the hinge pin that was removed, the handle tethers, and an internal feature meant to hold a thermos flask in place in the top section of the box (it was roughly the shape of the stylized ‘V’ on the front.) All this was wire, in approximately 1.5 – 2mm diameter steel, which was cut up, drilled into, enameled and re-joined to make the chain that holds the big ‘snowflake’ section in the centre.

Detail image of work My House - Tanya Lippe's Lunch Box, made out of lunch box steel, stainless steel, vitreous enamel.
Detail image of work My House – Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box, made out of the lunch box, stainless steel, vitreous enamel.