Secessionism, submergence and Siteresponsive art: The Embassy of the Commonwealth of New Bayswater at the 1st Fremantle Biennale
© 2018, Shima Publications (Australia). Assertions of territorial and, particularly, micronational secession have often been highly performative and/or rhetorical. In this regard, they closely parallel aspects of conceptual, performance and installation art practice. It is unsurprising then that a number of prominent micronations have been formed by artists in response to local issues and/or as components of broader artistic projects. The Embassy of the Commonwealth of New Bayswater, created by Perth artist Jessee Lee Johns for the inaugural Fremantle Biennale in 2017, is a prime example of site-responsive art's ability to provide illuminating representations of key issues in local discourse. The installation merits sustained consideration in this journal due to its intersection with recent debates concerning micronationality in the form of its wry engagement with aspects of Western Australian secessionist politics. Its other significant aspect is its address to issues of sea level rise, encroachment and submergence - a phenomenon whose impacts are likely to over-ride the viability of many low-lying territories let alone any secessionist pretensions individuals or communities inhabiting them may have.
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