Yesterday’s Miranda Must Go event was fantastic. We had an anti-picnic at Hanging Rock, read Elspeth Tilley’s satirical play about white vanishing myths and finished with a really fabulous, open discussion about the concerns of the campaign. Two ABC media crews came and we were featured in the ABC News that evening. I am most grateful to everyone who attended, and those who couldn’t but sent us well wishes and support. I am most especially thankful that Aboriginal rights activists, such as Robbie Thorpe and Clare Land, joined us yesterday as it was a real privilege to hear them speak. Also big thanks to Elspeth Tilley for her play, “How It Goes“. Its critique of settler invasion was welcomed by attendees. The picture above is from the reading (note the carving of Miranda in the tree watching over us). More documentation to come.
I just want to acknowledge that over the last few weeks the Miranda Must Go campaign has received some criticism from a diversity of perspectives: the “informed” literary theorists argue that Picnic at Hanging Rock actually draws attention to colonial dispossession via subtext; there are concerned white people (that fail to understand that the campaign’s aim is to acknowledge the effects of colonial dispossession) who have accused the campaign of trying to tell Aboriginal stories that non-Aboriginal people have no right to tell; there are other well-meaning people who fault Miranda Must Go for not telling Aboriginal stories and fixating only on the Aboriginal people who died and dispossessed in the region; also moderate Miranda-fans who argue we should have balance/multiplicity and celebrate both white and Aboriginal stories; white “progressive” Hanging Rock residents who believe the campaign’s aims are too extreme; plus your usual right-wing trolls who reject the fact that Australia was founded on violence and invasion.
I expected much of this criticism and have reflected on it. After listening to a diversity of people speak yesterday, however, and hearing their support for the campaign, my commitment to the aims of Miranda Must Go has only toughened. This campaign is not too extreme. Instead we need thousands more initiatives like it.
It was disturbing to watch Miranda-fans at Hanging Rock in flowing frocks skipping around on stolen Aboriginal land yesterday as we listened to local officials pay lip-service to the importance of Aboriginal stories while maintaining that Miranda should stay. What it highlights is that these white vanishing myths do not only discursive but real violence, shifting attention to white lives, losses and stories, and establishing a convenient and palatable settler attachment to the Australian landscape, whilst obscuring and trivialising Aboriginal peoples’ ongoing losses, struggles and traumas. While white Australia cannot openly confront the violence of settler colonialism or ratify a formal treaty with Aboriginal people and acknowledge their land rights, Miranda and her white vanishing friends really have to go.
If anything it demonstrates that there is so much work to do in every locality in Australia to bring attention to the injustices Aboriginal people have faced, and continue to endure, as a result of colonial invasion. My most sincere wish is that this campaign inspires others to contest the white symbols and monuments in their area and keep trying to alter the dominant narrative.
For more information about the rationale behind the campaign, please read this piece I wrote for VICE: www.vice.com/en_au/article/what-really-happened-at-hanging-rock
Many thanks for your support,
(artist, activist and Miranda Must Go campaigner)