My all-time favourite response to Pauline Hanson is Chips Mackinolty’s, Never smile at a crocodile.
I love this piece for several reasons: one because it is timeless (a good piece of art stands the test of time).
Secondly, and appropriately, whenever I am in the presence of a crocodile (or Hanson) I feel like I am in the Stone Age; and thirdly, like Hanson, crocodiles are very serious predators.
Although not half as intelligent as a crocodile, Pauline will prey on you—your fear of terrorism or being swamped–she will find your rage and fuel it with a few misleading but well-placed details, and call herself ‘the voice for the people’.
The truth is she is just filling a void. She is our very own Trump (what is it with these people and their hair?).
Regrettably when we have had, and still have, politicians who do not engage honestly with populist strategies; when we have genuine concerns of the working and middle classes about their future, the economy, globalization; when we have an already robust but unreasonable fear of the ‘other’ now rutting furiously with terrorism and an overblown anger and bitterness at perceived ‘greedy’ foreign investors, or self-serving over-entitled politicians, and a media that does not respond to populist politics with facts but instead gives them more airtime than they deserve, then yes Fotis Kapetopoulos, Australian artists may have to step up, and soon.
20 years ago I made Guess who’s coming to dinner? because Pauline Hanson told a dirty lie.
I remember watching those words fall out of her mouth like wet food.
She was telling inflammatory lies then and is still telling inflammatory lies today and that’s reason enough to challenge her.
God knows I stopped believing art could change the world a long time ago and it would be nice to get paid for a change, but it seems us artisans may have a responsibility to present an intelligent response to Pauline Hanson (and all populist politicians for that matter).
But let’s look behind the puppet—we are artists not trolls—we need to embrace the underbelly, fight it with facts, educate and be aware of the shadow our work might create because there are a lot of very distressed people out there.
And the next time Pauline Hanson says “I speak for the people of Australia,” remember this: she will steal your integrity, roll you until you choke on your own terror, and if she can’t swallow you whole, she will drag you down and stash you in a dark forgotten place until you rot, simply because she prefers to feed on putrefied flesh.
Based in Darwin, Therese Ritchie is a photographer and graphic designer of twenty-five years standing whose work is born of all she has witnessed and experienced in the “paradise of sadness” that is the Northern Territory. Her work is described as going “beyond photo-journalism or biographical documentary. She goes where other image-makers of the Northern Territory frontier have rarely dared to venture: into a heart of darkness of our own making.” She is represented in the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Supreme Court of the Northern Territory Art Collection, Artbank, National Gallery of Australia, Flinders University Art Museum, Araluen Collections and private collections in Australia and abroad.
You can see more of Therese Ritchie’s work here.
You can read Therese Ritchie’s show-opening speech to her recent show Blacks in the back cunts in the front here.