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Open Manifesto

Not my garden.

An essay by J.K.

{25th of November 2008}


“Why didn’t I become an architect? Answer: Because I thought the blank sheets of paper on which I was to pour my dreams were blank. But after twenty-five years of writing, I have come to understand that those pages are never blank. I know very well now that when I sit down at my table, I am sitting with tradition and with those who refuse absolutely to bow to rules or to history; I am sitting with things born of coincidence and disorder, darkness, fear, and dirt, with the past and its ghosts, and all the things that officialdom and our language wish to forget; I am sitting with fear and with the dreams to which fear gives rise … But in those days I was a resolute modernist who wished to escape from the burden, the filth, and the ghost-ridden twilight that was history—and what’s more, I was an optimistic Westernizer, certain that all was going to plan.” Orhan Pamuk


This essay has endured a long and winding path to publication, travelling with me embedded in my iBook from [Aboriginal] Gija Country and Miriuwung Gajerrong Country in the far northwest of Australia, to Meenamatta Country in Tasmania, Limpopo Province in the north of South Africa, Noongar Country in southwestern Australia, and Ngaanyatjarra Country in the Gibson Desert.  Like a hybrid organism, it has evolved as an extension of myself, moving amidst the particularly certain uncertainty of globalising postcolonialism.



Western conceptions of ‘landscape’ are arguably the most successful, resilient and subversive agents of identity propaganda of modern times; and particularly resilient in Australia because of the overwhelming temptation for the dominant ‘Westernizing’ landscape paradigm for deeply self-conscious re-interpretation, despite well-documented potential for the formation of a more reciprocal intercultural placedness.


(The rest of this article is available, in print, in Open Manifesto #5)


Jonathan Kimberley is a visual artist represented by Bett Gallery Hobart and Jan Manton Art, Brisbane. He is currently an MFA research candidate at the School of Architecture, Landscape and the Visual Arts, at the University of Western Australia.