Historical Harpic

Thank you Bec Cody. Thank you for showing us the way to deal with fifty-year-old racist imagery. When her husband Bruce returned from the men’s toilets at the Sussex Inlet RSL and told her that he had seen four bathroom tiles, originally installed in the 1960s,  bearing kitsch images of kangaroos, emus and  Aboriginal men, she knew how to respond. Her husband went to the bar and  ‘carried on like a pork chop’, while she bottled up her fury ready to unleash it on the hapless board of the Sussex Inlet RSL under privilege in the ACT Legislative Assembly. Thank you Bec Cody. In  the tradition of Hetti Perkins, Rona Joyner and countless iconoclasts before you, when confronted with problematic imagery your only response is — the jackhammer!  No need to waste your important  time with the wonderful array or ironic, satiric, parodic, nuanced, contextualised responses rehearsed for you by literally generations of indigenous Australian artists who have exhibited on Australia’s behalf in international art exhibitions for decades. No need to think about the work cultural historians and theorists have done on the complex and yes, problematic, operations of kitsch imagery in our visual culture, globally and across the generations. Why, your husband fought in Iraq! Enough said! No, instead the fifty-year-old tiles were unilaterally declared to be  ‘perverted and disgusting’. You were going to be the self-appointed semiotic Harpic banishing this historical texture for ever. The Sussex Inlet RSL knew how to reply though: ‘I reckon she’s out of order’.

Sussex Inlet RSL Men's Toilet

Sussex Inlet RSL Men’s Toilet

Sussex Inlet RSL Men's Toilet

Sussex Inlet RSL Men’s Toilet

Sussex Inlet RSL Men's Toilet

Sussex Inlet RSL Men’s Toilet

Bec Cody

Bec Cody

2 thoughts on “Historical Harpic

  1. Thanks Martyn. I can see how the issue of kitsch imagery of Aboriginal people in a toilet is problematic, but the coverage in the Canberra Times, complete with pic of haughty Bec, made me cringe on her behalf. Every stereotype of Canberra and ‘progressive’ politics among people in regional and outer-suburban Australia was reinforced by this story. Probably worth a few dozen votes to One Nation. How does she think her response will go down? I’ve known plenty of outstanding, hard working and thoughtful people active in the Labor movement, but ACT Labor can’t seem to find them when it comes to pre-selection.

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