No More Public Space, Only Public Order (Water Cannon)

No More Public Space, Only Public Order (Water Cannon) is a public artwork created by Amy Spiers and Catherine Ryan with choreographer Ashley Dyer for the 2016 MONA FOMA festival in Hobart. An absurd, mobile sculpture of a water cannon was paraded around the Salamanca Lawns, accompanied by performing security personnel, dog handlers and a bagpipe player, in order to celebrate the end of public space and the beginning of public order. Traffic controllers and the police assisted the parade.

The water cannon was presented to the public on the Salamanca Lawns. Its capabilities were then demonstrated to the gathered crowd as it neutralised a series of cut-out figures including protesters, rioters, men, women and children. The cannon then turned on the crowd itself.

Following the parade, the water cannon—a rude, menacing object, made from materials used to control the movement of people in urban spaces—was exhibited in the Kelly’s Garden outdoor exhibition space at Salamanca Arts Centre.

During the water cannon’s parade and subsequent installation, copies of The Public/Private Questionnaire, a commissioned text by UK philosopher and activist, Nina Power, were made available.

The title of the work, No More Public Space, Only Public Order, is taken from an earlier essay by Power which considers whether there is such a thing as a public realm anymore (if it ever existed in the first place), given the total occupation of all public spaces by the apparatus of security, such as CCTV cameras, private guards, fencing and the police. At a time when harsh new anti-protest laws are being proposed in jurisdictions throughout Australia, the artists hope to prompt reflection about the regulation, control and future existence of the public sphere.

This project was presented by Salamanca Arts Centre, HyPe and Kelly’s Garden Curated Projects in association with MONA FOMA 2016. It was assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, and through Arts Tasmania by the Minister for Tourism and the Arts, and the City of Hobart.

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