omnia sunt communia {Water Stressed}

Some Background:

This latin phrase “Omnia Sunt Communia” means all things in common.

It was a slogan from the German Peasant’s War of 1524-1526, when the peasantry rose up against princes and church to fight. As such, it harks back to a time before communism became associated with the word ‘party’, or ‘state’. Communism not as an ideology of manifestos and political groups, but as a movement of thousands of ordinary people struggling against poverty and tyranny. Water is one thing that is certainly common to all. However, the CEO of Nestlé, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe denied that water is a Fundamental Human Right and should be commodified in the same manner as oil or coal. His company has ruthlessly bought up vital water sources in already water stressed developing nations. He has spent much of his time since making this disastrous PR statement in 2005 trying to convince the world that he didn’t make this statement (in a videoed interview!). Too bloody late mate! Do you think we’re all NAIVE?


name – Omnia sunt communia {Water Stressed}

materials – 100ltr water butt, Japlac enamel aerosol, acetate and toner

dimensions – 2m dia. x 1m (plus plinth)

Visual Inspiration:

The giant water cooler is an idea I’ve had for a while. One day I was driving away from Mountain Ash on a picturesque, forrested, Valley’s road, and spotted the 100ltr water butt dumped in some bushes. I found the mineral water bottle whose label I used to reverse the word to spell out NAIVE there too. Being a serial magpie I grabbed this gunk-filled stinking water butt from the bushes on the side of the busy commuter road, knowing instantly the ideas I had for it (though academia seems to insist that you have 3 journals of development work with endless contextual and historical references to canonical art pieces! a system designed to kill spontaneity before it catches?). My knowledge of mineral water corporations’ intent on the commodification of human life’s most vital resource gave rise to the subtitle {Water Stressed}.

I used Japlac enamel spray paint to give an oversized illusion of a water cooler of the type found in most offices or call centres.

The use of a gallery plinth is intentional humour.

Political Inspiration:

The artwork is a comment on Corporatism – the purest form of fascism – the merger of State and Capital.

Neo-feudal Corporatism of the type our society is experiencing now, bypasses parliament and has control of every facet of society and everyday existence. And we have such witless, weak politicians that corporatism has no realistic opponent.

Corporatism provides fertile ground for extremism and prejudice of all forms: mistrust, fear, and paranoia on the one side and then there’s the “society of the spectacle”, mass consumerism and mass media manipulation on the other side – a distraction for the masses (huge sporting events, Soaps, x-factor, lifestyle mags, MTV… etc) while all the time real choices and human rights are being obliterated – a totalitarianism of the mind.

It’s fucked up.

The only answer is violent opposition but violence is where fascism is on it’s most familiar ground.

Another way is for the masses to stand against it but there’s been such an insidious slide into corporatism that the powers that be find all sorts of ways to materially and psychologically divide the working class and once there’s a division they win.

Divide and Rule is the oldest, most successful strategy of control of the proletariat.