This is a guest post by Chips Mackinolty in response to the question asked by Fotis Kapetopoulos in his piece What should the arts do about Pauline Hanson? published in the Daily Review on 21 September 2016.
Two decades ago saw a variety of responses to the rise of Hanson, including from the arts community, as Fotis Kapetopoulos outlined in the Daily Review. The actions taken at the time that he outlines, along with current responses from a variety of political and multicultural groups, are worthy of strong support today from the Australian arts community.
Back then, from the outpost of Darwin, Therese Ritchie and I laid in with critiques based on humour—at times savage—which among other things culminated in an exhibition in September 1998 called If you see this exhibition you’ll know we have been murdered, which toured the NT for a year afterwards.
There were Christmas cards and T-shirts and a decision to take up a post box as we started getting a bit of hate mail.
There was also a prominent story in the Melbourne Sun-Herald which gave a positive spin on our attempts to take the piss out of her, and, need I say, the “gently does it” approach to her and her views.
Famously, Pauline Pantsdown also took to the Hanson manifestation of bigotry and hate with savage humour.
And long may she continue to do so.
Not a single response in the Daily Review (thus far) has addressed the Kapetopoulos call to the arts community.
Most responses were an onanistic blathering about how we should respect the hundreds of thousands of voters who voted for Hanson’s Racism 2.0.
Or that criticisms of Hanson and her deeds are the slippery slope to the latté set being directly responsible for the rise of Trump.
20 years ago not everyone supported our approach of using humour and satire: I would hardly claim to have a monopoly on a “correct” response to the viciousness of racism.
However, Therese and I did not sit on our hands: nor should the current arts community.