How do you protest without creating disturbance? Vic artists take on anti-protest laws

September 7, 2014

The Art of Silent Protest
September 17-30
11am-4pm (opening night 6pm)
The Snug
447 High St, Northcote.
Free entry

The Art of Silent Protest is a new exhibition as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

In view of new laws, a collective of Australian creative people have responded to this question. They use the form of the placard to “explore notions of change and the visual impact of the art of activism”.

The exhibition is a response to new anti-protest laws introduced by Victoria's Liberal government. The Summary Offences and Sentencing Amendment Bill 2013 will increase powers available to police under “move on” laws.

The new laws make it easier for police to issue directives to break up protests, including picket lines. People who do not follow such orders can be fined and jailed for their refusal, or banned from the area.

Move-on directions can be given to a whole group and do not need to be issued to each individual.

The artists involved are from the Green Creative Initiative in Melbourne. The exhibition is curated by Anna Drutzel and Kate Kingsmill.

Drutzel said; “The right to protest is a perceived human right arising out of a number of recognised rights as listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“While no absolute right to protest exists, such a right may be a manifestation of the right to freedom of assembly, the right to freedom of association and the right to freedom of speech.

“The art of protest has become more prolific as issues concerning greater social justice and environmental damage have garnered more widespread public support.

“In recent times, society has seen protests of millions quickly mobilised via social media, spurring many governments to challenge the unlegislated right to protest.

“As creatives, we understand that raising our voices does not mean we necessarily have to make noise. But as humans, we also believe the right to raise our voices in protest should be absolute.”

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