Parallax 2 - Performing Sovereignty


Darren Turner, a member of the Gunditjmara nation, marches at a refugee rights demonstration. His arms and fists are crossed above his head in a gesture of solidarity. He is wearing traditional paint and holds clapping sticks in both hands.
Darren Turner, a member of the Gunditjmara nation, marching at the ‘SOS Manus Prison – End the Siege #SanctionAustralia’ Protest, Naarm, 2017. Photo: Charandev Singh. More photos can be viewed in this photo gallery.

The dancer’s stance references the daily mass protests by those imprisoned on Manus Island and Nauru.  The upraised, crossed arms and clenched fists embody a philosophy of non-violent protest, signalling both surrender and resistance, compliance and refusal. It is a posture that has been adopted in other protests,  performed as a gesture of solidarity, akin to the ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ that Nicholas Mirzoeff identifies as a ‘signature gesture’ (2016, 96) of the Black Lives Matter movement. Repeated and restaged on Australian streets or government offices taken over by protesters, this signature gesture bridges the separation between offshore camps and the civic spaces of the nation, between citizen and prisoner, legal and illegal.(Perera 2018).


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