Public Assault (Art)

The difference between art and torture is consent

Art, is an expression of the human spirit

The legitimacy of art lies in the context in which it is presented

Peaceful city

I cannot walk down the street, approach a stranger, slap them in the face and call it art.

However, I can hire a venue, stage an art show called – ‘The Slap’ and invite people to be slapped, if they wish to

In Hobart, non-consensual public slapping is supported by the government

The granting of permission to use a sonic cannon emitting sound to eight kilometres in radius by an arts festival is equivalent to encouraging violence

The council says it complies with EPA regulations

What if they decide to play the recording of murder and rape?

The council says it doesn’t matter as long as it complies with the permitted loudness levels at the nearest sensitive receiver

Statutory Nuisance

Could be the name of the offical council choir

I walk the dog in winter dusk on a peaceful reserve, only to be slapped by an art director who believes everyone needs to hear the music of Kim Jung Il

No warning, no consent, no invitation,

A slap

More than just a nuisance

It is assault

Other festival activities bring tourists to the peaceful town of Hobart. So the council politely supports the assault

The city lights up in red

It is nice

But I can close my eyes

Unlike sound, which penetrate the bones and walls and eyelids

As the person responsible for the deployment of this sound cannon,

I feel shame and regret

I moved to a new place, accepted a job offer, and became a tool in a militant art organisation, empowering an already powerful man

Where Are You, Dear General?

Is the name of the song, playing every morning in Pyongyang

Also appearing in Hobart, courtesy of the curatorial genius of the general and supreme leader of the Hobart winter arts

My requests to be cautious ignored,

The man became more powerful,

More intoxicated

Deluded by power

Went on a public slapping spree

No doubt,

Some people enjoyed it

I felt shivers down my spine when strings echoed through the buildings

But I knew it was happening

I gave the order to fire the cannon

For the blind, and people in the nearby hospital it was a surprise,

For those who are vulnerable and struggle to be heard it was a surprise

For any Koreans in Hobart it was surely a surprise

Perhaps a nice surprise,

Perhaps an anxiety inducing surprise

There is no telling

Silenced by art with little power to say no

This is my public service

My public apology

“I was just doing my job”

Is a lame excuse

I will continue to protest

To show power the mirror

Reflecting its ugly brutality

In the ever growing loudness of cities and machines, we struggle to hear each other

We struggle to listen

Adding noise to the modern soundscape of urban cacophony is not a virtue

It is not art

It is assault

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