‘What Lies Beneath’

Mar 6, 2019

The MCA is Australia’s leading contemporary art gallery, aiming to present work that stimulates the imagination, creatively engages our senses and has the power to transform lives.

It was a great privilege for the Climate Guardians to help launch Janet Laurence: After Nature at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) in Sydney on the last official day of Australia’s “unprecedented” Summer of 2019*.

For nearly 40 years Janet has explored the deep and complex interconnections between all living things and the increasing grave threats to all life on Earth. Featured extensively internationally, her work is transcending as it – in the words of the exhibition’s curator Rachel Kent – “touches on themes of memory and matter; alchemy and transformation; time and transience; threatened creatures and environments; and ideas of healing and regeneration.” The exhibition is as stunning as it is critically important and timely.

The installation Deep Breathing: Resuscitation for the Reef was first exhibited at Paris’s Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle during COP21 that led to the Paris Agreement in December 2015

Written especially for Janet’s launch by Irish Australian poet Anne Casey, What Lies Beneath expresses deep grief over the loss of the Great Barrier Reef due to reckless, shameless greed and corruption. Our flock included angels with extensive experience in the Arts and Culture sector, including broadcasting, composing and performance along with a couple of evolving future leaders. It was an absolute joy working with new Angels to bring our street theatre/direct action style performance into such a prestigious institution to help open this brilliant show.

Irish Australian poet Anne Casey with Climate Guardians

Given the last time we were in Sydney was to appear in court for helping defend the Pilliga State Forest against Santos’ rogue fracking project, the warm and encouraging welcome was very much appreciated!

We first met Janet in Paris during the COP21 climate negotiations that led to the Paris Agreement in 2015. Despite the then state of emergency ban on civil society protesting (following preceding the horrific December terrorist attacks) a few Climate Guardians paid a visit to her extraordinarily moving exhibition Deep Breathing: Resuscitation for the Reef at the Musee d’Historie Naturelle. We subsequently (and most appropriately given we were returning from a blockade safeguarding a key Great Artesian Basin recharge zone from fracking in the Pilliga State Forest, as mentioned above) very proudly supported the opening of Janet’s brilliant H2O: Water Bar at Paddington Reservoir Gardens in early 2016.

True to our grassroots modus operandi, the following morning we staged a ‘visitation’ at Tony Abbott’s electorate office in Manly. In addition to the good fortune of being interviewed by a journalist from the Daily Telegraph who covered our story, we felt generally very encouraged by the level of positive engagement from many passing locals keen to discuss what on Earth could possibly explain Abbott’s obsessive devotion to fossil fuels.

* Australia has experienced “unprecedented” wildfires that have burnt through vast amounts of Tasmania’s ancient rainforest and bushland, an “unprecedented” native fish kill, including critically endangered species, in the once mighty Murray-Darling river system that is now on its knees from abuse, and “unprecedented” catastrophic flooding in Northern Queensland coming hard on the heels of extreme drought. This is the extreme weather associated with climate change that fossil fuel companies’ own scientists warned of in the early 1970s.