I went to see Aamer Rahman last week with Renaissance Wife and two dear friends.
It was cutting intense political critique, heartbreaking in parts, hilarious in others…. and refreshingly free of rape jokes, which, sadly enough at the Melbourne Comedy Festival is rare for straight male comedians…..
We were still chuckling about various anecdotes later, like the failed Hi-Fi bar night, and the Alanais Morisette exploding spoon factory picnic scenario – as part of his whinge that ‘isn’t it ironic’ has some really stupid lines.
And I had tears in my eyes as he recounted the Woomera protests in Easter 2002, which coincided with the successful outcome of my ex-partner’s visa application, but meant we weren’t in any position to go trapsing off on any immigration protests that year….
This Easter break was fairly flat for me, doing marking, waiting for my first pay, seeing the dentist, waiting to see my osteopath, doing more marking and watching the wife tinkle with the newly moved piano….
And I thought I’d do more, write more, see more, read more, and assumed I’d make it out to Broadmeadows again, but I was just too damn tired to do anything. One of the artists I see had his refugee tribunal hearing, saying it went ‘well’, and I was hopeful and relieved and looking forward to seeing him a little happier than last time… but I was too tired to face another trek on Public Transport, or face the lack of trains on weekends, and provide cheer and engagement while feeling sore and tired….
And most of this week I was still tired from an easter week spent marking essays, fighting off some feverish lurgy thing, spending too much time writing a lecture and finding it really hard to do, and not getting enough sleep, which for me, means spiralling insomnia. And yes – I do practice meditation, no alcohol, no coffee after 11am, moderate exercise, yoga, no large meals at night, calm bed space, sleep hygeine, chamomile tea and lavender, and then during a number of increasingly desperate hours between 1am and 6am I take codeine, phenergan and doxyllamine succinate and occasionally stillnox. This is why I am generally *not* a morning person.
Renaissance Wife was projectile vomiting for a night and a day, and there were no home cooked meals, and I dragged myself through the week, mostly offline, spending too many hours on public transport, living off takeaway food and echinacea….
And so I missed something big.
which is that ‘the guys’ I’ve been peripetatically visiting in Broadmeadows, trying to start some sweet little ‘art as therapy’ panacea for their unjust and inhumane detention, sitting and trying to get them to draw, watching the ones who can draw, draw more freely for and with the children of other visitors than they do with me, the ones I’ve hugged, shared food with, joked with, commiserated with, and have tried to share some hope with, are now engaged in a deadly action of protest. Because – after their 3, 4, 5 YEARS of waiting, appealing, proving, providing information they don’t have, clarifying the misinformation of DIMA officers, negotiating the incredibly complex process of DIMA asylum seeker claims and legal hearings, because after all of this, having finally and successfully proved that they are legitimate refugees….. they’ve been slapped down with another insurmountable and arbitrary hurdle of ASIO ‘rejecting’ their security clearance.
It’s a system where individuals are assumed guilty until they can prove their innocence. and in the case of ASIO security declarations, they are unable to find out why, or appeal the decision. It’s horrifying. And they are responding in a horrifying manner.
there’s been a vigil since thursday at MITA. Right now it’s raining, and I am indoors, taking a break from marking blogs and gnashing my teeth to try to find some words for how I feel.
And I can’t. I borrowed words for my Facebook status update, and composed some vituperative pleading in a letter to the Immigration Minister, but that’s all I can do at the moment. I feel so very very helpless right now.
and the spotlight catalogue that arrived in my letter box (where the collage in this post’s header came from) really stung in its banality. “Art is not a matter of life and death, it is more important than that” in a kitschy appropriation of Rosalie Gascoine assemblage, a bit of homespun romanticism for a domestic interior – maybe to go on the door of the McMansionette ‘craft room’ where the scrapbooking remnants are kept.
I love art, but nothing is more important that life and death. and in this case, aside from the banners and vigils (which are updated here), art isn’t helping, much.
Here’s some more information on the Hunger Strike
and here is a testimony from Selva, one of the eloquent, generous wonderful men who are suffering too much.
It must be fascist week in Australia.
This week the Melbourne Free University found their website had been blocked by the Australian Federal Police – with no information why, or avenues for redress.