Woomera
from The Exclusive. On the Politics of the Excluded Fourth

Andreas Siekmann


Glossary

 

Woomera:


Woomera immigration detention centre was built on a defence site located in South Australia,[…] in the desert and about two hours drive from Port Augusta. Woomera was introduced in 1999 by the Liberal Government under John Howard, while Philip Ruddock was the immigration minister. […] The detention centre began with approximately 500 asylum seekers and ended up housing close to 1.500 adults, including about 500 children. Some remained in Woomera for the duration of the time it existed. Each day in Woomera was a nightmare. Sometimes I’d go to the fence on a 44 degree day and hold onto the burning hot fence thinking I was the only one but when I turned right and left I saw many others doing exactly the same thing. […] Most people were depressed, sleeping all day with nothing to do. […] In 2002 there was a big hunger strike, some stopped eating completely for days, and over 30 people, including children, sewed their lips together. During the hunger strike some started drinking shampoo and attempted suicide. After no response from the government or the DIMA manager, frustration grew daily and people ended up rioting with one asylum seeker hospitalised post jumping off the roof. The breakout during the Easter of 2002 was something we’d never forget; when the protestors arrived to the detention centre and broke the fences. Some asylum seekers managed to escape, some got arrested by the police, some tried to jump over the razor and got stuck in the middle and were cut so badly they fainted due to blood loss. […] As people were gathering closer to the fences the ACM guards become very aggressive and started beating and throwing people out of the fences. After a while police and the detention guards completely surrounded the situation and there was no escape. All went back to the sad reality once again. It has been ten years since the Woomera detention was closed and many of us are outside now after serving a minimum of 3–6 years in detention but the cruel experiences has impacted on us and will continue to.

Fernandez, Ramesh: 10th year anniversary of the closure of the notorious Woomera Detention Centre, Peril. Asian-Australian Arts and Culture, source.

 

Pacific Solution:


The Pacific Solution is the name given to the Australian government policy of transporting asylum seekers to detention centres on island nations in the Pacific Ocean […]. Implemented during 2001–2007 […] the Pacific Solution consisted of three central strategies: Thousands of islands were excised from Australia’s migration zone or Australian territory. The Australian Defence Force commenced Operation Relex to intercept vessels carrying asylum seekers. The asylum seekers were removed to detention centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea while their refugee status was determined.

Pacific Solution, Wikipedia, source.

 

Phillipp Ruddock:


In this role, he […] presided over the Howard government’s policies on asylum seekers. […] During his time in office, the previous Keating Labor Government’s practice of mandatory detention of asylum seekers was continued and extended. In October 1999, the Australian government introduced Temporary Protection Visas for persons who applied for refugee status after making an unauthorised arrival in Australia, and was the main type of visa issued to refugees when released from Australian immigration detention facilities. Many Afghan and Iraqi refugees who are not Australian citizens were affected by this policy. In 2001 Ruddock was also appointed to the role of Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

Philip Ruddock, Wikipedia, source.

 

Sangatte:


The Sangatte refugee camp has been the focus of huge tension between London and Paris since it opened in 1999. It has attracted thousands of would-be asylum seekers. Eurotunnel claimed it stopped some 18.500 refugees trying to smuggle themselves into Britain in the first half of last year alone – some 200 a night – and that the vast majority of them were from the camp. […] The British government and railway executives have accused France of inadequate policing of their side of the tunnel, while France has pleaded it is unable to cope with the vast numbers of refugees crossing its borders. Sangatte officially has capacity to house some 600 people, but up to 1.500 refugees use the camp […] Eurotunnel has repeatedly called for the camp to be shut, and started facing heavy fines from the government for every refugee slipping through the tunnel. It estimates it has spent more than 6m on security measures to protect the 1,700-acre terminal site, including 20 miles of outer fencing, six miles of razor wire and 300 video cameras. It also pays for about 360 security guards to patrol the site during any 24-hour period, and contributes towards the French policing bill. However, such efforts did not prevent a mass break-through of refugees who stormed the tunnel on Christmas Day, an event which was caught on camera.

Sangatte refugee camp, The Guardian, 23 May 2002, source.

 

About

The series of drawings Die Exklusive. Zur Politik des ausgeschlossenen Vierten by Andreas Siekmann draws on the inferno in the Divine Comedy (1321) by Dante Alighieri, into which Dante and the poet Virgil wander through various pits of hell. Many of these drawings are part of a carrousel-like sculpture, which is constructed around memorials of rulers in three different cities: Godfrey of Bouillon (Brussels, 2002), Augustus II the Strong (Dresden, 2003), Friedrich II (Kassel, 2007). In addition to the well-known division of powers into the executive, the legislative and the judiciary, a fourth power has existed since the founding of the nation-states: the exclusive as an exclusionary power. The drawings are witnesses to the global spread and supranational intensification of this fourth power between 2001 and 2010 and discuss the structural reasons for the emergence of these images. Often they are uploaded onto the Internet by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the media, in order to deter: police kettling at summit meetings, sneaker production in export production zones, people without papers at work in the greenhouses of Almeria, refugee uprisings. Each of the examples also describes how this fourth power drives itself into personal decisions and careers. The Exklusive becomes a mental category.

Andreas Siekmann studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Since the 1990s, in addition to his own artistic work, he has written together with Alice Creischer in various art magazines and curated long-term collective exhibition projects, ExArgentina (Museum Ludwig Cologne, 2004 and Palais de Glace, Buenos Aires, 2005) and Princpio Potosí (Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2010 and Museo Nacional, / Museo Ethnografia, La Paz, 2011).
Recent publication: The Potosí Principle Archive, published by the Walther König, 2022 consisting of four volumes. Its themes are: Extractivism, Labor, Debt, Inquisition, Machine Capitalism, Decolonization Practices, and artistic Doing.

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May 13th, 2022 — Rosa Mercedes / 04
Interface

The Reconstruction of Ukraine. Ruination / Representation / Solidarity, online symposium, September 9-11, 2022. “The Reconstruction of Ukraine: Ruination / Representation / Solidarity” devotes particular attention to cities, architecture, art, culture and psychological trauma – but the scope of the conversations it aims to start is broader. In due course, the discussions held during the symposium may coalesce into myriad projects, initiatives and experiments undertaken by government institutions, municipalities, educational and cultural bodies and other more interstitial actors. The ambition of this symposium is to establish a platform for dialogue, facilitating communication, collaboration and constructive argument between diverse actors and initiatives.

George Edwards (Zetkin Collective) on war, nationalism and the “anti-climate lobby” (via Arts of the Working Class): “The latest prognosis of this particular war was spelt out in a flurry of reports from the IPCC; the most recent, described as ‘an atlas of human suffering’ by the chief of the UN, demanded ‘rapid, deep and immediate’ emissions cuts in all sectors to ensure an inhabitable planet for all. In step with the science, many wish this conflict to mark the beginning of an intensified programme of decarbonization, ridding economies of not only Russian, but all fossil fuels, wherever their geological source. But whilst political leaders scramble abroad to secure new sources of fossil fuels – sweet-talking sheiks and summoning LNG terminals from the ground – a resourceful and committed cohort, let’s call them the anti-climate lobby, refuse to accept this diagnosis. The partakers in the fossil industry have seized upon this crisis, sensing it as an opportunity to enlarge and entrench economic interests rooted in fossil fuels. As the course of action prescribed by the IPCC imperils this line of business, the attempts to secure fresh investments in fossil fuel infrastructures, to lock-in production and secure profits for the coming decades may feel all the more pressing. The solutions they pose also fit within the national frame and it is with nationalist political forces that they find their most ardent allies.”

July 31st, 2022

The fundamental difference that we face in Europe at the moment between the Western approach characterized by the pursuit of peace and the Eastern one focused on liberation and independence poses a dramatic challenge – in order to survive and progress, democracy as a political regime has to be capable of defending itself also in a military way.” Armed Democracy revolves around the concepts of imperialism, liberation, fascism, autocracy, revolution, and militarization in pursuit of the world to come on Europe’s burnt out land. Conceived by the Kyiv Biennial and Biennale Warszawa from the East Europe Biennial Alliance, this special public program, curated by Vasyl Cherepanyn within the 2nd edition of Biennale Warszawa, the program is a first part of the series organized by the East Europe Biennial Alliance discussing Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine and taking place in Warsaw, Prague, Kassel, and Riga over the summer and fall of 2022.

Olena Lyubchenko on Whiteness, Expropriation, War, and Social Reproduction in Ukraine (via LeftEast): “[…] when we hear on the news that ‘Ukraine is fighting a European war’ and ‘Ukraine is defending Europe’, amid images of fleeing ‘poor white’ women with children prioritized over racialized ‘Others’, ‘Ukraine’ is being made ‘white’ in the global imaginary. That is, “the injunction to ‘return to Europe’ by way of Europeanization is enabled and conditioned on the mythologies of Western civilization, and that Europeanization at once marks (promulgates) and unmarks (naturalizes) racial whiteness” [Nadezhda Husakouskaya and Randi Gressgård]. The paradox is that Europe’s existence as such has only been possible precisely because of the exploitation of global working peoples through expropriation of resources and today neoliberal economic reforms and reproduced by feminized labour.”

Vasyl Cherepanyn about the “inertness, hiding behind the European Wall” (via L’Internationale): “Many Western institutions that have been claiming ‘radical political engagement’ for years, have simply resorted to a white cube radicalism and self-satisfying humanitarianism, too afraid of acting politically beyond their comfort zone and unsettling their publics and authorities by attempting to affect the decision-making process regarding the Ukrainian cause.”

May 28th, 2022

Tatsiana Shchurko on the War in Ukraine, Entangled Imperialisms, and Transnational Feminist Solidarity, via LeftEast (May 2, 2022): “[An] uneven knowledge production and the many implications of the war against Ukraine reveal the dire need to develop a feminist anti-capitalist critique of multiple imperialisms. This language should grow from within the occupied and suppressed communities of Eastern Europe and Eurasia. An anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist feminist positionality grasps that the local is part of a global in an effort to build transnational connections of mutual aid and support against state and corporate violence. For example, statements of solidarity with Ukraine expressed by the International Committee of Indigenous Peoples of Russia and Native American communities along with the anti-war feminist march in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) on March 8, 2022, pointing out that the war in Ukraine should be of concern for a broad transnational community, may serve as instrumental examples of alternative anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist solidarities that stretch beyond state regulations and macro-politics and foreground decolonial perspectives, necessary in addressing entanglements of multiple imperialisms. Such solidarities also bring to light hidden interconnections of the past that allowed for distant communities to survive and support each other against the violence of imperialist intervention and its attendant capitalist exploitation. Thus, the march in Bishkek reminds of the socialist roots of the International Women’s Day to call for internationalist, intersectional, class solidarity against imperialism and militarism.”

Vasyl Cherepanyn on that “It’ll take more than tanks to ease Germany’s guilt” (via Politico): “Since the Soviet Union’s collapse, Germany has been imposing neocolonial optics on its Eastern European ‘peripheries,’ and on the post-Soviet space in particular, where Ukraine was long considered a gray buffer zone about which the EU was ‘deeply concerned.’ Germany didn’t bother itself much with differentiating between former Soviet countries’ pasts. Even until recently, any Ukrainian agenda in Germany was often ‘balanced’ with a Russian perspective, so as to not exclude the latter by any means.”

An unnamed anarchist and art scholar, who joined the Territorial Defense Forces, quoted by Olexii Kuchanskyi in an essay on “Digital Leviathan and His Nuclear Tail” (via Your Art and e-flux notes): “At dawn, Dima and I talked about cinema. Dima believes that cinema is inferior to literature as a means of expression because you spend much more time with a book than a film. It’s a really interesting point, something to dig into. I studied at the department of art theory & history and I never thought of it. Dima served in the military after school and worked at the factory all his life. He listens to rap, smokes pot, and tries to have fun. He is thirty-eight, his child was born last year. He likes Wong Kar-wai and is a fan of Asian cinema in general. Dima communicates by quoting Omar Khayyam, Confucius, and other awesome guys.”

April 20th, 2022
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