Water Conversations – Sydney, Australia

Dam Empty? Damn Right!

‘Dam Empty? Damn Right!’ is a visual art collaborative project by artists Anna Macleod (Ireland) and Wendy Murray (New Zealand). Both Macleod and Murray are interested in the discourse of politics in site specific public arenas where art can contribute to public dialogue of citizen empowerment and contribute to social change. 

‘Dam Empty? Damn Right!’ is a poster, zine and performative project devised to draw attention to climate change, infrastructural failure and state mismanagement of the water systems of the in rural New South Wales. Australia’s water management history in the Murray Darling Basin is testament to the prioritisation of economic uses of water entitlements over water sustainability and cultural use. 

The unfolding water provision crises rural New South Wales in places such as Broken Hill and Menindee has had little nationwide media coverage despite the seriousness of the current situation facing the communities along the Darling River. 

For 'Dam Empty? Damn Right!' Macleod and Murray draw on the legacies of agitprop visual art practices of poster production, zine production and performative public action to highlight the water issue plight and to try to build solidarity in urban areas such as Sydney for water stressed rural Australian communities. 

Posted around the streets of Sydney and using social media as a way to reach broader audiences, images of the trio of posters reached thousands of individuals. 

On 29th November 2015 on the day when thousands of people gathered to march from Speakers Corner on the Domain in Sydney in support of action on climate change at the Paris Climate Change Conference, Macleod and Murray distributed the hand printed zines and read out the 2010 UN declaration on Water as a Human Right. The Zine and performance urged Australians to take action on Water as a Human Right – Australia by signing a petition to the Senate to enshrine water as a Human Right in the Australian constitution. 

Dam Empty? Damn Right!