Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11, 2006

September 11, 2006

Five years ago today airplanes fell out of the sky, people jumped out of windows, buildings fell into dust and the “war on terrorism” began. This war has not been like other wars - it knows no geographic or temporal limits and will not be won or lost in any quantifiable battle. It is not a war for territory or resources, although these are factors which weigh heavily on the general’s minds, but it is a limitless war against peace. It is a war against sharing resources between the people of the world, against undoing the resentment and anger which drives people to blow themselves up in a suicide bomb, against the just settlement of conflict and against freedom of expression and democracy.

The justifications for this war have come and gone out of fashion. A number of years ago a hysterical fear of weapons of mass destruction was whipped up before being unceremoniously dropped when (with feigned surprise) they embarrassingly failed to materialise. No matter - democracy and human rights were quickly wheeled in as a substitute for this minor miscalculation. But this justification soon dropped away too as pictures circulated the world which illustrated how these values were being respected by American soldiers and as citizens found that a raft of anti-terrorism laws had now made freedom of speech and assembly expendable. No matter - a new justification has been found: security. The war against peace is a war for security.

As the government of Australia marches troops off to support America’s war against peace, invading countries, watching others slide into civil war, supporting the occupation of others, killing hundreds of thousands of people, we can all breathe a sigh of relief, because now we are now so much more secure…

Of course this justification has run into similar problems as the others (feigned surprise). We are so much more secure now that at workplace training sessions, in addition to learning where the fire escape exits are and how to lift something heavy without hurting your back we all learn that its not a matter of if, but when Australia becomes a terrorist target.

In the end the war against terrorism is a war about war. It’s not about winning the war, but continuing it. Continuing the war against justice and maintaining an infinite inequality between who can speak and who can’t, who can eat and who can’t, whose life counts and whose doesn’t, whose land is legal and whose isn’t whose borders are porus and whose aren’t and whose war is war and whose is terrorism.

In November 2004 Sydney I created 10 Checkpoints for “Weapons of Mass Distraction” for the Blacktown Arts Centre’s [out of gallery] project. The Checkpoints were manned by a life-sized stencil of a US soldier and situated outside various everyday places in Blacktown such as schools, ice skating rinks, art galleries, shopping centres and car parks.

The work was never completed, however. Part way through installation I was told by a community law enforcement officer that my work was “inappropriate in the climate or terrorism.” I was threatened with a fine and withdrawn from the exhibition.

In January 2005 I expanded and re-exhibited this work of 100 “checkpoints” at Mori Gallery Sydney with over 120 artists who contributed a work for a protest exhibition against war and censorship.

Earlier this year I gave all these soldiers away to artists, activists, friends, and interested people. Today, on a very rainy Monday, they have reappeared on streets around Sydney in places as diverse as Manly beach, Cabramatta Freedom Plaza, Oxford Street and Town Hall, a collective reminder that there are many people who question the war on terrorism.

For a look at some of the places were the Checkpoints appeared on September 11 2006 follow the link below. If you have any sightings or images of Checkpoints please email them to and I will add them to the collection. These images have been taken by a number of different photographers, I thank them all for taking an interest, but cannot credit them all individually here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

better out than in

4:35 AM  

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