On the third day of visiting the 2014 MONA FOMA I was lamenting to myself the lack of political engagement of the artists. Sure there were many cool things to see, and hear, and taste, and there were many cool folk to mingle with and to chat. But in terms of anything that faced the urgencies of our time, there was very little.
And I wandered about the auditoriums and court yards and thought of Nietzsche:
This future speaks even now in a hundred signs, this destiny announces itself everywhere; for this music of the future all ears are cocked even now. For some time now, our whole European culture has been moving as toward a catastrophe, with a tortured tension that is growing from decade to decade: restlessly, violently, headlong, like a river that wants to reach the end, that no longer reflects, that is afraid to reflect.
Where was this music? Where was this reflection?
Art is enough singer Kathleen Hanna told the crowd, mix art with activism, with community building she further suggested to the audience. She discussed the need for unity, the need to get over that that false leftie sort of idea that we should be pure, and we should constantly cut down those who; for example, still drink milk in their fair trade tea, as opposed to the purity of soy milk. This is all crap and what is needed at this time is unity.
The band spoke warmly and honestly to the audience, and they were able to engage the usually passive Hobart crowd. Anyone that missed this show, missed a lesson in music and a lesson in politics and most vitally the missed a lesson in how music and politics can be fused as we dance round the grave about Kapital.
On a side note I thought it was of interest that the keyboard player was a bloke, was this a happy coincidence or a statement on the fact that many times there are bands in which the keyboard player is the only woman.
During the final song of the set the crowd was able to witness all the actual nature of class and gender relations in our “ freedom.” Two young women, rock and rollers and full of passion and energy, and desirous of change hurdled the barrier, into that special space between audience and performer, that space reserved for the elite few photographers and their bully boy escorts. Of course the big burly he-men bouncers pounced and man handled the women back into the seething mass, where they obviously belong.
One could see exactly what The Julie Ruin were saying. Any divergence, any deviation of the rules can not be allowed, can not be tolerated. There can be no dancing, save in the nominated places. Much like the horrid free speech areas which are popping up all over the Western World, which do no more than silence dissent.