3. Public participation in concert with others

The third principle of allodoxic interventions is that they need to involve public participation in concert with others. For this, they need to be executed with peers in a common space with viewers; alternatively, they need to generate through their openness a public space where the action can be seen and evaluated by all. The most important aspect of this is that allodoxic interventions be equally transparent and accessible to all. 


This opens up a whole range of diverse locations for use. Baroness Elsa, for instance, performed in the street, as well as the story of how her work, Fountain, was set in motion in 1917 as described previously. The openness of allodoxic interventions generates outcomes that allow the action to be seen and evaluated by all in spaces like new legislation, or commons maintenance or enhancement.


All of the examples presented in this exposition show how Baroness perceived war and other societal injustices from an economic perspective. She saw them as operating in the interests of increasing capital, allowing financial interests to impose horrific consequences on whole groups of people. This was the consequence, she believed, of elevating abstract reason to a privileged place in the scientific-industrial world. As discussed earlier, in reaction to this value being placed on reason, Baroness Elsa used her public participation in concert with others to demonstrate her rejection of the culture that constrained the spirit and destroyed spontaneity, instead embracing the high-spiritedness of Dionysian impulses.


Hacktivist art qualifies as allodoxic. This is when cyberspace is used to further social or political ends in important ways, and when work can be broadly read beyond the early definition of only accessing unauthorised computer files.[i] For example, networks use allodoxic tactics when they use cyberspace connectivity to coordinate face-to-face elements, disseminating information on online platforms and enabling real-time communication. The latter is particularly relevant to national and international alliances, such as the intervention by the artists of the Sydney Biennale 2014. The sponsor of the event was involved in offshore detention centres and, in response, a disruptive intervention was organised by participants from the art field. Cyberspace networks, social media, and other online publishing platforms also provide alternatives to the mainstream media, generating positive publicity and circulating successful allodoxic interventions aimed at replication, amplification, and recruitment. 


Allodoxic artists can create cyberspace ecologies whereby disparate and previously disconnected people sharing similar concerns can become inspired and empowered to imitate original interventions, drawing on the same tools and techniques. Groups of strangers can come together to carry out actions, and by doing them together they can strike up bonds of friendship and trust upon which they can build a more concerted campaigning effort. In this way, online and offline activism are interlaced and reinforce each other. There are many existing and new media for accessing information about allodoxic interventions, meaning that more people have the opportunity to become involved themselves. 


Solastalgia is the umbrella title for a five-year project I have been working on that highlights the way in which pre-allodoxic interventions can be designed with and for whole groups of people, as well as showing how my theoretical framework was built from the work of Bourdieu. The work supports the efforts of the Wollar Progress Association against the Wilpinjong Mine, as well as other townships in the region facing similar threats. The Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht coined the term solastalgia in 2003 to describe a form of psychic or existential distress resulting from environmental destruction, such as that caused by mining or climate change. As opposed to nostalgia, the melancholy or distress experienced when separated from a loved home, solastalgia is the distress produced by environmental destruction, affecting people while they are still connected to their home environment.

Artists and Wollar/Bylong Valley residents reciting their books excerpts in a scripted

performance at Solastalgia performance Cementa_15, Clandulla. 

The Wilpinjong Mine is owned by the world’s largest coal-mining corporation, Peabody. As Peabody aims to expand operations right to the town's doorstep (if it is to follow management direction of ‘digging more, faster’), Wollar residents are experiencing enormous pressure to sell their properties at low prices. Bev Smiles, the community’s campaign organiser, is potentially facing seven years imprisonment for her recent action against the latest mine extension approval, and I continue to devise tactics in the hope that they may gain traction, in order to help counter further measures by Peabody.


The NSW Government’s regressive anti-protest legislation of 2016 is harsh and unnecessary, and erodes vital foundations of our democracy. Common to these anti-protest laws are harsher penalties, excessive police powers, and the prioritisation of business interests (particularly mining and forestry operations) over the rights of Australians to gather together and protest. The laws give police excessive new powers to stop, search, and detain protesters and seize property, as well as the power to shut down peaceful protests that obstruct traffic. The new laws expand the offence of ‘interfering’ with a mine, which carries a penalty of up to seven years in jail, to cover interference with coal seam gas exploration, and create a tenfold increase in the penalty applying to unlawful entry to enclosed land if the person is found to have been ‘interfering’ or ‘intending to interfere’ with a business on the land. Within the same spate of recent changes, resource companies that illegally mine have had their potential $1.1 million fine reduced to a $5000 penalty notice.


It requires a great deal of creativity to effectively organise within these increasingly restrictive conditions. Allodoxic artists aim to work within broad social movements and in most cases (as with my own projects) under the direction of representatives within these coherent groups, avoiding the possibility of speaking on their behalf. Further to this, outcomes related to structural impacts are prioritised over any form of expressivity, whether by the artist alone or by the artist working in collaboration with participants. Outcomes are focused on feeding into and amplifying the activity that is already being undertaken by the coherent community. If expressivity is involved, it is designed to serve broader activist aims. 


However, my studio practice has enabled me to think, intuit, and feel through the extraordinary challenge of working against the operations of a multinational corporation, which is itself supported by government policy aimed at shrinking the rights of individuals and communities.[ii] This has led me to move beyond documentation processes and the re-presentation of this material in exhibitions towards new forms with broader aims that prioritise the community education, campaign promotion, and invigoration, as well as adopting specific targets within the field of power. Solastalgia has involved switching between activism and representation, both in small and large-scale arts events and in its engagement with government and corporate processes, whether supporting tactics or leading them. This creative activity has aided the tactics’ more subversive aspects, both masking and highlighting them. Solastalgia also brought together groups to re-invigorate them and amplify the community campaign.

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[i] Journalism is an important tactical action within rights movements, and allodoxic interventionists draw on it. The US-led occupation of Iraq is an important example, where leaked information by Private Chelsea Manning  about the use of torture to create chaos at a local level led to international action against it. Mona Mahmood, Maggie O'Kane, Chavala Madlena, and Teresa Smith, ‘Revealed: Pentagon’s link to Iraqi torture centres’, The Guardian (7 March  2013)<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/06/pentagon-iraqi-torture-centres-link> [accessed 10 May, 2014]

[ii] On 17 July 2014, Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald wore a ‘hi-vis’ jacket whilst speaking in the Australian national parliament. His actions provided a commercial for the organisation Australians for Coal that is supported by the Minerals Council of Australia, the peak industry body of Australia’s exploration, mining, and minerals processing industry.