Protest costume, 'Greedozer II', mixed materials, designed and made by Benny Zable, Nimbin, New South Wales, Australia, 1980
Benny Zable has been involved in protests since the early 1970s, and he appears in video footage of one of Australia's most significant environmental protests, the fight to stop the damming of Tasmania's Franklin River. This environmental issue became an election issue and saw the beginning of the first green party in the world.
Benny uses theatre and mime to convey his anti-development messages and created this costume over a number of protests. Non-violent protest has empowered ordinary people and articulated points of view that otherwise would not be heard. As the Green bans, Terania Creek and the Franklin have shown, protests can put pressure on decision makers, creating a result where legal, institutional and bureaucratic measures have failed.
The 1960s and 70s were periods of great social and political change in Australia following the Vietnam War, the lead up to, and turbulent years following, the dismissal of the Whitlam Labour Government in 1975, and the rise of the international peace and women's and Indigenous rights movements. Following the failure of an environmental campaign to stop the damming of the Gordon River and the subsequent loss of Lake Pedder in 1972, the Tasmanian Wilderness Society national political campaign 'Save the Franklin' in 1976 worked. This combined with the 'Green bans' around Australia helped create an environmental movement in politics that has spawned the Green Party. The language of protest grew to include marketing and awareness raising devices like badges, posters, t-shirts, postcards and other fairly ephemeral material. They along with media reports represent the events.
Benny says that the Franklin blockade was the most powerful action he has been involved in.
"At the Franklin on the edge of the river, going out on the water, it was the most successful and the most focused, there was unity between all the different factions of the environment movement. It started off as the Tassie wilderness society. Then there were wilderness parties all across Australia." *
Benny Zable is a political activist and performance artist and continues to inform or provoke with his ongoing silent dolefull presence at many peace and environmental protests..
*Interview with Benny Zable by Anni Turnbull, 2001
Protest! Environmental activism 1968-1998
Historic houses Trust, 1998
Benny Zable website
Teaching heritage website
The 'Greedozer II' protest costume was designed and made by Benny Zable in Nimbin, New South Wales, Australia, 1980.
The suit was used by Benny Zable at a wide range of environmental and peace protests around Australia between 1980 and 2001.
The following is an excerpt from an interview with Benny Zable, March 2001 by curator Anni Turnbull.
BZ: "The idea for the suit came up through a vision while I was meditating. Where to go from here. This greed dozer, all these monsters. I was sitting right in silence there amongst all these dead trees, the trees they had knocked down. One of the last coastal rain forests. I was sitting there seeing all the life in disarray around me. I saw this monster thing moving, in the dredge moving along. Greeddozer came into my consciousness. So I formed the suit out of black plastic and cardboard, recycled for this theatre"
AT: "What about the phrase 'Consume, be silent, and die?"
BZ That came out of graffiti I saw on the walls in South Australia. 'I rely on your apathy' was something that was tagged to Bjelke Peterson that I saw on a poster. 'It's costing the earth' was something I made up."*