Rolfoclasm

Now that his trial has faded in our memories it is possible to take stock of the new punishment spectacles being developed in our society. In this case the body of the condemned was not available for public torture, but his self-caricature of a face — thick glasses, fussily groomed facial hair, and  lasciviously darting tongue (always, we realised, incipiently Mephistophelian) — still haunted our memories. But this man was an entertainer, a creator, and even an artist of sorts. This not only made us, his naive and innocent audience, obscurely sinned against as well, but it also conveniently left us with a stock of his works — songs, paintings and murals — which through a process of sympathetic magic could substitute for his body. We could pillory these instead. Songs were ceremoniously  removed from playlists, murals were ceremoniously painted over, and so on. Individuals took it upon themselves to correct the collective historical record on all of our behalves. The works destroyed or erased weren’t great, and weren’t even, in the end, all that numerous, but nonetheless I found this medieval hysteria worrying. Because of his crimes he may have forfeited some of his rights, but not his moral rights as an artist. Who will be next?

Rolf mural painted over in red paint

Rolf mural painted over in red paint

Rolf mural painted over in red paint

Rolf mural painted over in red paint

Rolf mural painted over in red paint

Rolf mural painted over in red paint

Rolf replaced in entertainer's mural

Rolf replaced in entertainer’s mural

Rolf painting removed from Canberra school

Rolf painting removed from Canberra school

Rolf painting removed from Canberra school

Rolf painting removed from Canberra school

Rolf's portrait removed from National Portrait Gallery

Rolf’s portrait removed from National Portrait Gallery

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