While Italy, Germany, Belgium and several other countries have implemented weapons bans or suspensions on the Saudi-led coalition, Australia has stayed silent. This troubling reticence is indicative of an arms export policy that is as lucrative as it is opaque, with precise details about what weapons and other military items are being sold, who they are being sold to and for what purpose, shielded from public scrutiny.
‘I used to believe in all that stuff in textbooks, about human rights and the Nobel Peace Prize. I had seen how well they treated stray dogs in Norway, putting clothes and little shoes on them in the snow, and I thought surely they could help me. But it is just an illusion—rights only apply to those people who they accept, who they accept as human, and I was not one of them. It is my dream, once in life, just to be normal in the airport, to not be stopped, to not be put in a separate line, to not be looked at like I am something strange, something different.’
The pandemic makes borders legible in new ways. For some, the death counts and interactive maps tracking the global movement of the virus recall the monitoring of sea journeys and charting of refugee movements. For others, the act of crossing borders is made visible anew, as different sorts of bodies are ensnared at airports and surveillance points. These redraw once again the permeable lines between rights and rightlessness, the privileges and limits of citizenship. Different biopolitical permutations are playing out before our eyes from moment to moment.
The question, then, is how to deterritorialise black metal? How do black metal fans and artists open potential lines of flight that can break out of such limitations? Hval offers an escape through art’s occult potential; its ability to alter reality.
This is a political project of wilful ignorance that we as citizens are implicitly asked to co-enact, over and over again. There is a hacking apart of the web of violence – of cause and effect, words and actions, ideas and transgressions – to allow for a successful scapegoating of evil men: dangerous psychopaths whose actions are to be viewed as outliers. In this effort, the Coalition Government leads the charge. In their manufactured reality, the worst kinds of violence against women are heinous, but they are also aberrations.