Here's a new plot twist in my life...; Disability discrimination!?
Yesterday I was prescribed heart medication at 4mg. It's not much medication but what it means is I was putting my heart under stress from somewhere...yeah right...I knew exactly where it came from or should I say whom.
In Badimaya lore we believe in payback. While we may not always get the perpetrator to stand in front of our relatives we sure know that our ancestors will take up the true issuance for us.
In this case I think the person in question was greedy and wanted to see me suffer.
He wanted that because I was many things he hated just for being me.
They say it's better to go where you're celebrated and not just tolerated so that's what I did. I left the scene and not a moment too soon it seems.
I'm disabled with Lipoedema.
It's not a disease I can control very much.
It's commonly known as 'The Shaming Disease' and for good reason.
People are so conditioned to thinking that people who are large in extreme ways are over-eaters or they're lazy but with Lipoedema you cant change the growth of fat with fitness training or diet. All you can do is stop inflammation through massage & wraps and at best liposuction but in this continent it costs $22,000 to only remove 15 liters a year!
It's not covered as a chronic illness in most parts of the planet and there's no cure YET.
I'm having gastric sleeving in May 2016 in the hope it can reduce the amount of fat cells forming and to stop the amount of fat lipids in my blood at any given time.
All of this I explained to this disability Nazi but it just wasn't good enough.
At every opportunity he made it an issue.
I didn't listen of course but when he couldn't be honest about things he ended up blaming me in the guise of "care". What he was trying on for size was sympathy and that's a LOT different than empathy. Empathy means he'd actually DO something nice whereas he just shrugged his shoulders or started boasting to me about all the 'nice' things he did before...like he was keeping a list in his head about what I'd MADE him do by being disabled in the first place?!
I can think of a few well known 'disabled' artists who hardly NEVER had this kind of discrimination; Matisse, Renoir, Duchamp, Kahlo to name a few.
A great artist isn't 'famous' or a bon vivant in their own mind as PROOF they're an artist...
If they DO think that then I recon they're like Jeff Koons and every other poser 'artist' and money market fapper.
Sorry, I'm fully aware of my disability but that doesn't translate into my art or how I feel about myself being alive.
Side Note for this week;
Oh....and Yay for meta-modernism..If I read a bit more I guess I'd learn to like it as a mind set to stop racism because hey...post-modernism really was trying to absorb First Nation culture into it as something "already done before" but it just turned out looking like colonialism and cultural genocide of Badimaya people to me.
It was the main reason why I began painted a certain way because I really hated the racism of some post-modernist theory and the people stealing cultures for their own profit.
I actually paint to stop racism because I'm a product of the brainwashing that said
"white is right"...so my life is literally here as a direct result of racism & assimilation against my mother's people, my people, the Badimaya Nation.
Sometimes I get asked what I mean when I say iritja about an interaction I'm having with someone.
IRITJA is the Western Desert & Badimaya term for the spiritual role of a person or clan who act as negotiators/translators/traders/ambassador/messengers between the First Nation next to their own or to send extremely long distance messages to another First Nation far away.
There are early invading colonial accounts of white men coming across iritja men & women who walked or ran along song-lines which had been well traveled over thousands of years by countless iritja before them.
The colonial soldiers on horseback were afraid of them because they refused to stop or look up at them as they passed by. Even as they'd never seen a white man before. The barbaric response to this fear was to shoot the iritja and loot their bodies or claim their skulls for science. What these invaders were destroying in a violent instant was an individual as part of an intricate web of communication and ritual. The reason why the iritja didn't look up at them was because they were in deep meditation and watching for the next nyining (tall tree with carvings or paintings on them) or mountain or a water course so they could find direction/set the time of day to know what stars they would be seeing at night to follow ritual on their journey as well as timing their distance in order to meet others along the way based in their same kinship.
It was a holistic relationalism of the body to nature across vast distances in order to stop conflict, to trade ritual objects that literally sung the same spiritual songs based on the star patterns in the night sky and for a personal spiritual connection to their family.
Star patterns such as the rainbow serpent, the 7 sisters creation story and the two brothers creation story were linked together across many First Nations in 'Australia'.
The largest creation story is the 7 sisters which begins in Western Australia and ends across the continent in Victoria.
Under each star pattern there are great song-line tracks.
The only western travel writer to first discuss this was Bruce Chatwin;
Some of his observations are correct but others are not.
I think he missed plenty of the more intricate details of song-lines to make them appear as if extinct when in fact it was and is a reality today within kinship in Western Australia at least.
People don't walk and run on song-line tracks anymore because the colonial invaders in an act of conquest built their roads over the top of them to form major highways such as the old Fremantle road and parts of the Great Norther Highway.
This didn't stop my Badimaya Nation from using them with other modes of transport...right up until today in cars, bikes and trucks in order to continue their role as iritja for our ritual trade.
My family are iritja for the eastern side of Badimaya country.
In the first contact times Lord Forrest manipulated this use of iritja to gain access to our lands and others before he invaded them with his surveyors who systematical poisoned ever second waterhole and then burnt the bodies after procuring skulls for 'gentlemen', museums & scientists all over the world.
Canning was such a surveyor for the Canning stock route which was named after him.
A telegram request for arsenic to exterminate First Nation people in the Kimberley as they had already done so from 1876 right up until 1910...some say they did this for a lot longer as the last massacre was in 1937 in the Kimberley.
My great grandmother's iritja was between Warriedar Station & Nyinghan Station down to Bruce Rock into the Nyoongar Nations.
Another was into Wongatha to the east of Badimaya country.
She did it till the year she passed away and nobody Non-First Nation ever detected she was still acting in this role for her Nation & kin.
My grandmother was also iritja in spite of the fact that the Roman Catholic Church had inculcated her when her white father stole her from her mother to do so.
As Catholic she still maintained her iritja lore in her own home.
The house where she raised me is in Nyoongar country was her 'battleship' for iritja and she trading out of her own home almost directly under the flight path of the international airport at RedCliffe (near Belmont) in the Perth metro area. She had with countless people talking and trading with her while I was growing up with her.
My grandmother felt she was kept from speaking about it very much...but she still enacted it because it didn't violate her Catholic faith because there is belief of a single great creation spirit in Badimaya lore.
In her mind and in many others of her age we saw it in the same way as other Christians would view God.
If the theology of inculcation exists in Christianity then why didn't they view our law as being part of the evolution of love in all the First Nation communities as seeing that same great creator?
Many assimilationists & Christians thought and some still think...even today... that Badimaya First Nations people believe in animism which is just not true.
We believe that every creature, tree or plant is sent to us to guide us from the creator.
Each clan or kin or skin group has a creature, plant or tree that we are custodian over.
They also speak the truth to us about the great spirit's supreme creation & gift, the earth.
In my family we are custodian and guardian over the Warida, the wedge-tailed eagle.
This creature is connected to the land and the sky and is visible in both Badimaya country and in Nyoongar country in the stars at night.
We use it's skill to help us hunt for food and for water using the stars they make at any particular time of the year as a map.
Others use the emu or whei-gen as it's called in Nyoonagr to the south of Western Australia.
The Warida is linked to a ritual place where we see God in the sky.
It's linked to iritja too because it's song-line is connected though the song-line tracks that have been walked for thousands of years and still are today right into Noongar country to the south.
The warida is also an indicator towards the pride we feel as it's custodians as having keen eyes to see details in any situation in life and is a skill highly admired in our family and First Nation.
As an artist & warida I feel pride with all other artists before me who have been ititja warida because it's something I can share and send messages with to other people & clans from far away.
My mother Ronnie is an iritja with stories.
She also has a keen eye and is an artist too.
When we grew up she kept us safe so that we could be part of the single line of iritja warida in our matriarchal family and now she is our elder in it.
We grew up without tv or the telephone so most of our childhood was us all yarning.
Iritja I think has been used in other forms in other places...such as in Greece with the marathon runners.
Also with the people who run along hill tops to send messages in the Andes or in Mexico in South America.
Yesterday I called into an art event with three artists doing a work titles named #TOUCHMYSOUL
I wanted to participate because I saw what they were trying to achieve.
A relationalism between lots of people using the internet which is like one huge network of messages to me. The internet is kind of like a new way to walk song-lines.
It's not the same as survivalism that creates this fan/star dynamic.
Someone already tried to create an 'artistic' term for it by saying it was meta-modernism but I disagree.
I think it's much more closely connected in how we are in our human spirit.
The option to give is ever present in us.
It's in us so much that it helps us to feel closer to our own creation.
That is the main premise of iritja to the Badimaya warida.
I went to sleep after watching from the beginning about an hour before it finished because it was 2am here in Western Australia and when I woke up one of the artists Shia LeBeouf had been given a tattoo in a kind of ritual sharing saying YOU.NOW.WOW on his inner arm.
I thought it seemed like ritual scaring in a way...Like the artists were making a ritual space for the world to participate in...except I was dreaming by then.
It was very wiru babanyu(strong spirit of friendship) to see him with this as a reminder of all our calls and iritja.
"Can you touch my soul?" they all asked as i called in.
That was the question they all asked together.
I think we all answered each other as iritja.
Sometimes I get questions sent to me through this web site from students in high schools & universities about my cultural practice.
The most recent one was a lovely young woman named Justine.
She asked the perfect questions for me to answer so I thought I might add the Q & A here.
I hope it helps other students who wish to contact me in future when they read this blog entry :)
Q: could tell me about your artistic influences
A: Badimaya lore paintings in sand and found in cave art...also carved into rocks across my Badimaya home country which is the mid west of western Australia under the towns of Mount Magnet & Yalgoo.
I’m also influenced by Catholic religious artistic practices found in the Renaissance era in Europe.
Q: and inspiration behind your work,
A: I began painting portraits when I was young as a way to assist my family to find family who had been separated from us due through government policy up until 1973.
I also paint as a way to stop racism today as it’s the greatest enemy to artistic freedom in the world today and in that task I paint everything that occurs to me in my daily life through a kind of diary or as some have termed an auto-ethnographic practice.
I also admire the way in religious Catholic tradition that with icons in particular the local priests would take donations to make icons for the communities they were in.
The priest would hide and travel with these jewel encrusted icon with him if the village or community was destroyed so he could make that community again somewhere else using the jewels in another location.
I think it’s an influence because it talks about a European relationalism rather than survivalism to one’s culture and community that I can understand.
Relationalism as a term was first discussed with Mary Graham in this video here;
Q: whether you were influenced by particular artists,
A: Firstly my Mother and grandmother were major influences on my work as they were both discouraged to be artists even as they were from a very long line of matriarchal lore women to do art for themselves. My family use art to record beliefs and spiritual practices. Both of them were only ever encouraged to be the domestic servants to white people as was I when I was at high school back in 1981-86. They influenced me to persevere and to become interested in many many artistic techniques from an early age.
The other influences are in the multiple.
Mainly artists from the Renaissance artists such as Artemisia Gentileschi, Franz Hals, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and Raphael.
Other influences are multiple as I follow techniques more than styles or personality such as Goya, Ray Crooke, Gordon Bennett, Ai Weiwei and William Hogarth.
Q: themes or movements
Romanticism (not Jean-Jacques Rousseau because he was a racist)
The Badimaya Nations cultural renewal & ancient continual practice
Stories from people resisting racism towards First Nations people in ‘Australia’.
Stories that empower First nations People in ’Australia’
The First Nations sovereignty movement towards de-colonization and real land rights.
Anti-Empire literature (see below text attached for reference such as ‘Enlightenment Against Empire’ by Sankar Muthu, 2003 )
Themes would be;
the land & people and the relationship between both.
Ending every day racism
Ending paper genocide through art (meaning ending white washed history and literature using art)
Q:and which of your artworks that show these influences?
‘In our country’ (see below)
dealing with stereotypical racism about fair skinned First Nations people namely me...as I go back to my country.
I get a lot of racism from white people who think I’m on the band wagon to ‘get benefits’ from ‘calling’ myself ‘Aboriginal’ as they call my identity as a Badimaya woman but what they don’t know about me is that I’m a product of the ‘breeding them out’ program of assimilationist genocide & brainwashing that ‘white is right’ along with the forced removal of 3 generations of my family. I’m also fair skinned as a result of 2 rapes committed against my great grandmother and her mother by white colonialists.
I have an identity in fighting for real land rights and striving for decolonisation.
My first land rights & equal justice rally was when I was 10 years old.
I am known and accepted in my family & community.
In the painting it shows my ancestors before invasion and myself holding hands with them in my country near Goodingow and Warida.
I don’t consider myself an ‘Australian Aboriginal’ because I’ve separated myself from the governing system. I’m a Badimaya.
I wish you well with your education,