the Fitzroy Flasher

art and ideas: photos and words: mainly and sometimes.

Scapegoating

March 4, 2016


I have watched the Nost Fiasco with cautious interest, cringing at what people have to say about how angry they are. Yesterday I took a breath and finally read the Age article, albeit quickly, and nearly a week later. I was as underwhelmed and frustrated as I knew I would be.

As predictable as geometric copper and pastel peach triangles on hanging plant pots, the article oozed middle class outrage. How was such a dreadful act committed on such a sacred wall?  The article also predictably misinformed us about the philosophical distinction between ‘graffiti artist’ and ‘tagger’. Thank you, anonymous authority, for your insight into the ‘graffiti culture’. I had not realised how despised this nasty NOST is.

Photo 20150329181845597

The inner North is a vibrant mix of cultures, but over the years, it is increasing white, gentrified, and middle class. I know I say that as a derision, but can I just raise my hand again and say I am one of you. The inner North has loads of cash, and buckets of post graduate scholars. No wonder we vote Green, we can afford to, and have the nous to. We are also prone to the odd grandstanding, because we can. This makes us perfectly ripe targets for satirical observations on walls. It is no surprise to me that there is ‘public outrage’ that this feminist work has been ‘capped’ by such a terrible, criminal, shameful vandal.

Who is NOST? Contrary to The Age article, he is not necessarily ‘notorious’for capping others. He does cap other peoples tags, in much the same way everyone does. He is not universally disliked either. The offending tag at the centre of the NOST Fiasco was up for five weeks before the Age noticed. Local street art bloggers of very high repute had already documented it. Comments from other (graffiti) writers, photographers and street art fans were overwhelmingly positive (so nice, massive roller, sick, double punch emoji etc). NOST is a prolific, interesting, and yes at times controversial writer. The best type, I reckon.

You don’t need to like his work. I do. I loved it when he got up on the mesh barricade at the garden show last year, for instance. I love that friends who are not at all street art connoisseurs know who he is when I mention him. He evokes debate, and I think sometimes he means to. Other times it is incidental to the fact that he is an enthusiastic writer who puts his name in many places.

So, my thoughts on the article. I will respond to a couple of specific quotes that made my eyes roll:

“City of Yarra mayor Roberto Colanzi said the mural was so badly damaged that it probably could not be saved”.

Well, no, not really. The NOST tag actually covered a heap of tags that had been there for months. These tags, along the bottom of the wall, covered what had for many years been a faded, neglected and in my humble opinion, outdated public mural. It was not lauded. You drove, walked, or trammed past it with a cursory glance and went about your day. I personally thought the images were poorly painted, average likenesses of the people represented. The type of depictions that almost nail it, but the perspective is wrong, shadows not true to where they should fall, and the eyes look dead. I don’t like that type of naive realism. To me, if you cannot draw real faces (NB: if in doubt check out Adnate or Kaffeine as a bench mark), you should maybe stick to abstractions. That’s just a matter of taste, I know, but it is a polite way of saying I personally think the mural is a bit uggs.

“Ms Evans, said …” …it was very badly damaged anyway across the bottom because of many years of graffiti, it was never really looked after,” 

One of the artists even agrees the mural was neglected.

“The extent of the criminal damage is extraordinary”

Is it though? extraordinary? I seem to recall Pell having the same difficulty with that word on the stand over the past few days. It is useful to consider this: Extraordinary is something far more than ordinary. Is the NOST tag ‘extraordinary’ on a mural covered in tags, in an area pitted with walls of tags?

Anyone who knows the area where this mural is posited, knows there are some pretty fugly old buildings and empty land, and that graffiti is everywhere. The council do jack shit to clean this area up. The streetscape is a shocker compared to it’s  surrounds.

I wish I could find an old image of the wall, with it’s pre NOST tags. I would like to illustrate how well placed he has been,  to cover such shyte. So well done, in fact, that I question what ‘damage’ he has done at all? My point is, that wall needed to be buffed in any case. Now, thank you NOST, it looks good and the buffing isn’t so desperately needed.

“But the thing that I didn’t like …was the symbolic writing over the women. I felt angry on behalf of the women. here was the woman who was the Lebanese milk bar owner and her two boys …there were a whole lot of women that he obliterated.”

Oh please …. this is reflective of what is commonly referred to as the old “storm in a tea cup” fist thumping “public outcry”. It is infuriatingly misinformed. It is a long bow to say that a tagger, who was probably at primary school with the Lebanese milk bar owner’s kids, was so affronted by the strong feminist message of this faded, neglected and capped wall, that he felt compelled to dominate and break that power down.

I find it ironic that the intention of the artists of the original mural was to comment on negative images of women in the media. NOST is being vilified as though his sole intention was to slap women in the face. I suggest he had no ambition of any sort. My message to my fellow middle class feminists who are angry right now, is that graffiti writers are not your oppressors. Might I suggest, however, that you might be theirs?

 

Don’t feed the dog

February 18, 2016


If you animated grief I reckon it would be one of those dogs on the beach in Thailand. The kind that hobble along a few meters behind you, and sleep at the window while you relax in your air conditioned, German owned, ‘nouveau riche’ Thai operated concrete Villa.

Precious Few

He would be the one you made eye contact with that first day and just don’t have the heart to shoo on. He seems content, you would think, yet resigned, or maybe sad, you would say gazing down at him from the beach side bar. In reality though, as the days went on he would really just look like death knocking. Like if he spoke he would recount tales of a harsh existence. Like he just needs someone with the guts to put him out of his misery.

Katie Kaff-eine

As you sip your Mojito you promise your companion you will not touch him. No seriously, you promise. And you certainly will not feed him. Just some water maybe. No, nothing, you promise. But then she is not looking and you whisper a kind hello. And suddenly there he is, a bestie, all yours.

I am scared to get that close to grief. I don’t imagine I could pack up and leave it in Ko Lanta. It would be in my luggage emitting mysterious odours and arousing suspicion. Or worse, I would be sorting out my affairs and joining Soi Dog, another crazy ex-pat raging against the machine.

And yet this one is a pointless battle, because grief is the silent partner to love. It waits for us to sign that dotted line before it shakes our hand. It is deception, compassion, fear, strength, guilt, regret, remorse, joy and anger. It is the dog you cannot love and cannot leave. It pulls you in and changes you. It makes you feel. It is relentless in it’s appeal.

I always thought that Phillip Larkin’s poem Going was about death, but now I imagine it might be about the inevitable grief that accompanies it:

<

p style=”padding-left:150px;”>There is an evening coming in
Across the fields, one never seen before,
That lights no lamps.

<

p style=”padding-left:150px;”>Silken it seems at a distance, yet
When it is drawn up over the knees and breast
It brings no comfort.

I feel that imminent evening coming now. As certain as sunset, it is coming to greet me again. I wrote about it when I saw the Hanky Project. I wrote that my own hanky would say: “She opened her eyes briefly in the hour that I sat looking upon her and I leapt into that last connection like she was a pool of water and I was on fire”.

I don’t know what I will write on my next hanky. I guess I am going to have to feed the dog.

Queeries and Theories and Other Essays for Alice

February 9, 2016


I recall being about 24 years old and knowing everything. The clarity, that this humble little mind told me I had, was startling. Sure in some respects, I did know it all. I was in a super privileged law course at an equally privileged university, learning a heap of smart stuff. Do not get me wrong, I completely struggled with the working class necessity to learn it all from scratch whilst my Ponsie private school cohort threw language and experience around that was foreign to me. I was aware that I was the outsider.

I wrote an essay called Queerying the Legal Definition of Marriage (spelling error intentional), in the elective Law and Discrimination unit I took. It was 1993 or 1994. Queer theory was enjoying its first blush of respectful recognition. Much to the disgust of several of my over-achieving colleagues, I scored a solid credit, which by Monash Law school standards, was high. A good 5 – 10 points higher than said colleagues.

So my thesis was this: I did not support same sex marriage because I did not support the patriarchal institution of marriage and sought, at all costs, to deconstruct it. It served no purpose but to devalue other-ness. It is the very same argument that Gillard hid behind. I cannot tell you how many times during the Gillard years I bored my wife with my “that is so 1994” derision of her belief system.

Yes, that is right: My wife. We married in 2009, in a hotel room in Toronto. We got engaged a year and a day earlier, in Chopper Read’s pub in Clifton Hill. There were over 100 guests at our engagement, and we married in front of three complete strangers. Sure, there was an excitement about eloping. We caught a private car to business class airfares and dined in New York that night. We met Woody Allen, and hungover, we opened curtains to a view of Central Park. But we flew across the globe, away from family and friends, because at that time, Canada was one of the few places we could marry.

I sit here now, with many of the same leftist belief systems that catapulted me through youth, but I am middle aged. You don’t need to be older to get this, but for me, being older, I finally do. Marriage is an institution that will not go away; it is understood across cultural divides, and across nations. It possesses the burden of expectation, the attraction of tradition, and cultural ‘norming’. It also allows people to feel that their commitment is the same as everyone else who has dared to.

The leftist anarchist in me still wishes to demolish most institutions. However the moderated middle aged me recognizes we cannot, and within that, if there are to be institutions, there must be equal access to them.

People opposed to same sex marriage do not stop gays from marrying. They simply force us to go off shore. On a purely equal rights platform, the only thing denied is the capacity to marry at home, surrounded by family. That, wearing any hat or bearing any political persuasion, is just fucking bullshit.

Old stuffWIN_20150711_142426

 

 

Stop

February 7, 2016


I am told I need to slow down

I know it is true

But then I open the milk

It spills: spilt milk

I chuckle, clean it up,

Throw the cloth at the sink

Stretch the milk tepid-frothy

See I made a shit coffee

Throw it and start over

Yes I should slow down

I can’t though

I’ve no time for bad lattes

And it is far to hard to swim

When you always almost drown.

 

Originally posted on the Fitzroy Flasher:
This is torture that it is This doubtful state – Bliss-less, listless – Breeding ground Enzymatic hate Entropic heat Irrevocably clean Slate but dirty?laundry And full and empty?glasses And lost and found And too soon, And too late

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