Technologies of Sovereignty 4d - Technologies of Sovereignty and the Trepidation Continent


Technologies of Sovereignty and the Trepidation Continent

A map of Australia is overlayed with graphics including what appears to be high and low pressure zones, a fleet of asylum seeker boats from the south-west, a fleet of naval ships from the north-east and helicopters swarming down from the east. Militarised figures, representations of Indigenous people as well as native animals are pictured on the land. Words including 'Piss off!' and 'Not Welcome' are also written within Australia's borders.

[imagecaption] Guan Wei, Trepidation Continent #2, 2003, drawing on paper map, 68.5 x 82cm. Courtesy the artist and ARC ONE Gallery. [/imagecaption]



The foundational scene of  White Australia is the arrival in what is now Sydney Harbour of ships bearing convicts from British jails. Invasion by sea is a phobia that underlies Australia’s self-conception as an island nation. The fears activated by the arrival of asylum seeking boats stem from these deep this geo-imaginary of insularity (Perera 2009).

The racial panic over boat arrivals reached new levels since the arrival of the Tampa in August 2001, just weeks before the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Centre, and continued to intensify over the following years.

The doctrine of ‘Sovereign Borders’ adopted in the name of protecting the  nation from boat arrivals authorizes an array of policies, rhetorics and practices. The following screens explore these assertions of white sovereignty as well as the counter-practices and resistances they engender.



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