Climate denial

“Bushfire Brandalism”

Pedestrians in some suburbs of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane would have walked straight past activist artists (vandals, some critics might call them) removing advertising from bus shelters and inserting artwork protesting the Morrison government and its handling of Australia’s bushfire crisis.

On Thursday 30 January, pedestrians in some suburbs of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane would have walked straight past activist artists (vandals, some critics might call them) removing advertising from bus shelters and inserting artwork protesting the Morrison government and its handling of Australia’s bushfire crisis.

“Bushfire Brandalism”, the action is being called.

Sydney-based artist Scott Marsh chuckles about the hi-vis vests: “It’s the cloak of invisibility.”

Marsh, known internationally for his political murals, contributed a portrait of Scott Morrison with the words “climate denial” emblazoned across his forehead.

A QR code on each poster links people to a bushfire-related charity of the artist’s choice. It also gives the collective an idea of how and where people are connecting with the campaign.

Unfortunately, many of the works get taken down as fast as they go up. The collective said on Monday they installed 78 posters last week, describing it as “the nation’s largest unsanctioned outdoor art exhibition”. But only a few posters remain.

The practice of “brandalism” – also known as “subvertising” or “anti-advertising” – isn’t new. In 1979, Billboard Utilising Graffitists Against Unhealthy Promotions (colloquially known as “Bugger Up”) was formed in Sydney and spread to other Australian cities, targeting cigarette and alcohol advertising. British artists the KLF have been associated with the practice since the 90s, and in 2015, more than 80 artists took over 600 Parisian bus shelters during the COP21 UN climate change conference.

Forty-one artists are involved in this latest Australian iteration, including Georgia Hill, Tom Gerrard, Sarah McCloskey, Ghostpatrol, Callum Preston and E.L.K, as well as anonymous artists. In one poster, a Caramello Koala has burst and is melting above the words “Save an Aussie icon”. In another, Blinky Bill runs from an encroaching wall of flames.

The collective launched three weeks prior to the posters going up, via a group chat of artists on Instagram. They were dismayed at what they saw as biased bushfire coverage and at the misinformation being shared by some media – particularly the Murdoch-owned press.

“It felt like taking over public space was an appropriate angle to tackle it,” says one organiser who doesn’t want to be named. “There was a lot of discussion about the divided attitudes and experiences of people living in the city versus the regional areas – but we were limited in time and resources, and also those type of ‘adshell’ spaces only really exist in the city centre.”

Many of the artists involved aren’t known for being political in their work. The same can’t be said for Marsh, who has for years responded to policies he takes issue with – starting with Sydney’s lockout laws, when he was an art student living behind the Coke sign in Kings Cross.

“People were losing their jobs and it didn’t make any sense at all – [there was] dodgy stuff when you started looking into it,” he says. “I went to the Keep Sydney Open march, and then had the idea of doing a mural of Casino Mike [Baird, the then-NSW premier].”

Then there was his mural of Alan Jones with a ball gag in his mouth; and one lampooning Israel Folau for the crowdfunding campaign he launched after Rugby Australia stripped him of his contract following homophobic social media posts (Folau is depicted begging next to a Lamborghini).

Marsh’s murals are frequently defaced or painted over, such as his short-lived “Merry Crisis” Scott Morrison mural that lasted three days (he turned it into a merchandise line and raised $131,424.50 for Australian fire brigades) and a saintly George Michael portrait, which got painted over in black ink before locals reclaimed it with pro-marriage equality messages.

Marsh’s depiction of Cardinal George Pell and Tony Abbott – A Happy Ending – was painted over within 24 hours by three men who labelled it “pornography”. On one occasion, Marsh even obliterated his own mural – Kanye Loves Kanye – after he reportedly sold a one-off print of it for $100,000.

Scott Marsh’s The Happy Ending, featuring Tony Abbott and Cardinal George Pell,

Scott Marsh’s The Happy Ending, featuring Tony Abbott and Cardinal George Pell, was painted over within 24 hours. Photograph: Scott Marsh

“The interactive stuff’s more fun than murals,” Marsh says. “I did a Fraser Anning Easter egg hunt last year.” (Those who found the eggs were encouraged to throw them at the Fraser bunny.) Before last year’s federal election, he made posters of Clive Palmer falling asleep during question time “and invited people to draw dicks on him”.

Sometimes Marsh really goes the extra mile. Not content with the mural of Cardinal Pell in his prison greens that he put up in Sydney 50 metres away from St Mary’s Cathedral, Marsh flew to Rome on his own coin and did the same near the Vatican. When he has to act fast, he has a printed paper version of the mural, pastes it up and finishes the job with paint, but in any case, passersby were surprisingly supportive.

The last of the 78 Bushfire Brandalism posters have now gone up, but for Marsh, tackling the issue of climate change is far from over. He continues to create works relating to the Adani coalmine, not least because of all the family holidays he spent at the Great Barrier Reef.

“It’s really hit home for me,” he says. “I’m frustrated with the lack of action. I got distracted for a while, but you can smell it in the air that now is the time to really push on climate change. If nothing happens now, it’s never going to fucking happen.”

Article originally published in The Guardian

Coles on-line shopping experience – leaves Bad Taste

This polite version was scrapped in favor of a bit more direct approach: Dear Coles, I've always thought of myself as a switched-on old chap, but...

E. Jean Carroll vows to spend Trump’s US$83.3 million defamation judgement...

E. Jean Carroll, who accused former President Donald Trump of rape, has vowed to use the $83.3 million defamation settlement she won against him...

Judge U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth’s rebukes lawless MAGA Republicans.

Sentencing hearings typically focus on criminal defendants, assessing their actions, remorse, and background factors for leniency or the harshest possible sentence. However, in U.S....

Jury Orders Trump to Pay Carroll $83.3 Million following years of...

Donald Trump has been ordered to pay a huge fine of US$83.3 million due to a prolonged and intentional pattern of malicious defamation against...

US President Joe Biden finally responds

President Joe Biden cautioned on Friday that the attempts by Donald Trump to regain the presidency in 2024 pose a significant threat to the...

Political Maneuvers and the Noteworthy Consequences for Brittany Higgins

Even within the context of Coalition-News Corp campaigns against Labor, the conspiracy theory surrounding Brittany Higgins and her partner David Sharaz allegedly collaborating with...

Special counsel asks D.C. judge to bar Trump BS at trial

Special counsel Jack Smith has submitted a motion in the D.C. federal obstruction case, requesting U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan to prevent Donald...

Michigan’s Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling, dismissing, an attempt...

Michigan's Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling, dismissing, an attempt to prevent former President Trump, from appearing on the, 2024 primary ballot. This decision...

The cow and milk for free

Angus Taylor knew what he was doing. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he is a bright man. He understands accounting tricks. He knew...

Leadership drought reaps its harvest

Leadership drought reaps its harvest As John Hewson wrote, The global world of politics is beginning to embrace the digital newsroom adage: Wrong, but not...

Adani will decimate Australia’s Great Artesian Basin

Unpacking the flaws in Adani's water management plan Matthew Currell, RMIT University and Adrian Werner, Flinders University Adani’s groundwater dependent ecosystem management plan for its proposed...

Murray Darling Fish Kill is Neoliberalism working

Initially this newspaper proposed that the Murray Darling Basin catastrophe was the proverbial “Canary in the Coal Mine” and the fish kill was but...

Murray-Darling Basin (SA) Royal Commission Report

It is not sufficient to make broad comments and recommendations about what should be fixed without recognizing and taking into account why and how...

The Great Artesian Basin – Rivers in crisis

The environmental and ecological disasters occurring at the Murray-Darling Basin are driven by capitalism, writes John Passant. ABOUT 2.6 MILLION Australians live in the Murray-Darling...

Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission Report

South Australian report also finds negligence and unlawful actions in drawing up multibillion-dollar deal to save river system Let's go through the responsible ministers' responses,...

Murray Darling & Great Artesian Basin are dying

Talk about killing your darlings. Our habitual Australia Day flags-and-dates furore tells more about our insecurities than we’d like. Easy solutions to both dilemmas present themselves. Lose the...

Murray Darling Basin disaster. Why?

Nationals leader and acting PM brushes off suggestions government could do more to solve Menindee Lakes crisis, saying ‘that’s Australia’ Michael McCormack has brushed off...