after Rod Moss ‘Anthropology: being themselves’ 1994, 106cm x 296cm, acrylic and graphite on 300gm archival paper, collection of the artist (which references Jacopo Tintoretto ‘Saint George and the Dragon’ 1555–58, 158cm x 100cm, oil on canvas)
What is art?
A confession: love and sacrifice.
Impale those concave corners
like pious palms
to the wall
Unfurl the length of two lives
and — Cut!
My vision is as insistent as an erection
The art of creation is butchery
(I believe da Vinci said that
or was it Picasso?)
I excise some small part of me
(an earlobe, a fingertip)
Like a slurry of sourdough starter
that thing greeds feeds grows larger than a canvas
and metamorphoses into some something
that is sliced
and devoured by others
Step back here beside me
so you can appreciate the proportion and scale
(in one word overheard: Overwhelming!)
of this conjoined triptych in
w i d e s c r e e n C i n e m a s c o p e
As frantic brushstrokes fill hours of canvas
and long shadows invert the vision of sunrise
I leap willingly
into the static reflection
whose Deuteronomy diminishes
my bold embedded-ness within the narrative
(A failing of yours, you say)
Who am I in this?
The moral crusader of an inverted colonialism
(that’s how one critic summed me up)
By whose authority
does he interpose the archetypes and aesthetic of Renaissance Europe
upon the physical-spiritual landscape of the Dreaming?
(Another failing, no doubt)
But look at them
Look at these apparitions dressed by acrylic and graphite
just being themselves —
What can be gleaned from
hours of archival film that spills
from the killing table
like the guts of shot-gunned kangaroos
scavenged by scrawny camp dogs?
You can examine their wanting in knocked-out canines, go on
Divine their needing by the lint plucked from fragrant folds of hairy arse cheeks
What have you learned, eh?
This is just to say —
too much I know I have said too much
(but have I given enough?)
Possessed as I am by
(symbols and cheap illusions)
an everyday kind of existential torment
(allegory allusion metaphor)
to prove over and over I am worthy
On this kite-hawk hill Apwelantje
(that we all knew as Snogger’s Lookout)
I light a fire for all lovers
and into the flames
I toss off this —
the song that once was ‘us’
The grey-crested pigeons
are coming to the clearing
On whistling wings they come
into the pigeon clearing
The sharp-crested pigeons
are cooing and chanting
In the crested clearing
the pigeons are cooing and dancing
Bowing low and cooing loud
my crest is a spear upright
Bowing low and cooing loud
his crest is a stone-tipped spear
The feathered fan snaps open — snap!
to stop the kungkas turning away
Bowing the feathers snap and flare
to keep them from turning their back
Bowing his feathers flare and snap!
His wing colours shine like mica
My red ochre skin glistens
His skin shines like fire — snap!
My feathers fan — snap! — as I bow
Bowing his fan encloses — snap!
I bow and bowing dig
She opens a hole with her stick
A hole is opened in the ground
The waters seep in — snap!
A hole is cleared
The water flows clear
Grevillea pods rattle in the wind
Colours scatter among the stones
Grevillea pods rattle loudly
The grey-crested pigeons take wing
The kungkas are in the pigeon clearing
going underground going underground