Wheelchair ballet school in Vivekananda Rd, Calcutta
Oil on linen, 198 x 213 cm
In 1999 while visiting Calcutta I had to use Vivikananda Road. Vivikananda Road is full
of old, frail men carrying ridiculously oversized loads of stuff on their backs. The legs they
use to stumble around in circles on – all have gamey bandages wrapped around their
knees and ankles, and they are always bumping into each other and blaming the other
guy. That day when I was walking through Vivikananda Road a 20-metre metal pole
smashed into my eye, the pole was invisibly thin and rusty and the old man carrying it
over his shoulder was walking sideways and his head was facing the ground, he started
yelling at me in Hindi. I apologised “sorry for getting my fucking cornea in the way of your
rusty pole “. I made this drawing that night at the hostel. And when I got home I made a
painting on Vivekananda Rd called They opened a plastic surgery next to the mental
In 2008 I was in China just before the Olympics. The torch relay was covered by one TV
station there 24 hours a day and because the Communist government pay everyone the
same they have to reward their bureaucrats with favours such as running in the torch
relay, but there are so many bureaucrats in China that the torch legs are divided into only
5 metres each – so it looks more like pass the parcel than a relay
The torch relay had many photo opportunities to show Chinese culture. On one day the
TV showed the torch passing through a Wheelchair Ballet school so I made a drawing
that night and a painting when I got home, the painting formed part of a multi-panel called
The Olympic torch relay in Xinjiang Province
- The young girls at the Chinese wheelchair ballet school moving around the basketball
court waving their arms in the air and bumping into each reminded me of the elderly men
in Vivekananda Rd. I liked the idea of these children having all their disabilities beneath
them – behind them, and the elderly having them all above them – in front of them. There
is left to them a small space in between to do something, and with that space they do
everything they can.
In Vivekananda Rd. Calcutta all the buildings are battered up and patched up many times over. On both sides of the road and they form a guard of honour for the beaten up and and patched up people who walk down it.
Evolution is an adaption to enviroment, what happens when all enviroments have air conditioning, when food, medicine and clothes are flown in from other enviroments and when the same TV and music and film are experienced everywhere? What happens when people can drive, train, fly to other enviroments? Where does all that evolutionary energy go when there are no longer predators and prey, no longer dangerous climates to adapt to?
In the years between 1582-1591 there were at least 3 people claiming to be the 3rd son of Ivan the Terrible – Prince Dimitry. Before there were photographs and newspapers imposture was pretty easy and many people pretended to be princes and kings and queens and princesses until the original turned up or they were found out. While dangerous if you got caught it was considered a reasonable career for lesser nobles and even for the well-educated middle class. An imposture could travel the country getting free meals, accommodation, gifts and occasionally collect rents and for a time a wife or mistress.
In May 2012 in Hosier Lane, Melbourne there was the case of the three Banksy claimants (three street/graffiti artists) who claimed to be the faceless street artist Banksy.
Evolution is now an arms race between deception and lie detection, a struggle between finding biographical solutions (LIES) to counter systemic reality (TRUTH). People, through imposture (lying), are working their way up the evolutionary ladder. Truth is heavy and can be a burden while climbing the ladder. Lies are light and easily disposable, and therefore more adaptable. As our environments become both physically and culturally the same so too do the top rungs of the evolutionary ladder. Everyone is “imposturing” their way to be the same person.
As if by putting a microphone in front of someone makes them worth listening to (and a rung higher on the evolutionary ladder), so too does having your work seen by the public make you worth knowing (and a rung higher). Hosier Lane for street artists is the shortest evolutionary ladder with the fewest rungs.
In the centre of the picture there are the three Banksy claimants being examined by experts. They look through the claimant’s drawings and notes but it is the lie detector- polygraph, lurking behind them which will decide the matter. Polygraphs fill the streets like telephone boxes once did, and their paper read outs are at first like telephone lines in the air and then like streamers on the ground.
Animals are the first to respond to evolutionary needs and they have moved into Hosier Lane. Crocodiles disguise themselves as big skip bins so as to be regularly receive the attention of the public. Giraffes stretch themselves to look like electric poles and stick out their tongues to impersonate the wires so that birds will sit on them and be licked into the giraffes’ mouths. Snakes swarm into Hosier Lane and they form themselves into groups, so they can impersonate tags and graffiti patterns so as to be photographed and elevated up the evolutionary ladder. What looks like flowers hung in garlands from the sky are birds, which have evolved in to half flowers to catch pollinating insects. Those birds, with better lie detectors, see the snakes impersonating graffiti and feed on the snakes’ greater protein. The sky is full of fake graffiti being flown away by colourless birds.
Inside the Forum Theatre, accompanied by world famous pianola players, mothers queue up for their chance to move up the ladder via a microphone. Their babies circle them in confused panic trying to recognise their own mothers, as the mothers evolve into the same person in front of them. Behind the Forum Theatre at Flinders Street Station fathers queue up to steal superior lost luggage so they can dupe their way up the evolutionary ladder. On the train platforms the passengers waiting are truly believing their own lies as they look only at their own clocks which are different from every other clock, and so their wait is frustrating and endless. Others try to follow recipes timed with their clock only – to be engulfed in burning smoke. Back in Hosier Lane the day that was once all about you – the wedding day – has tip trucks impersonating luxury cars queuing up, then tipping wedding parties into, Hosier Lane for their obligatory photos in front of fake graffiti.
The entire landscape is littered with the wooden planks of advertising billboards – the skeletal remains of industrial imposture – they are being re-used and re-used in different billboards and like a lie they are ever increasingly complicating themselves. A baby climbs a rickety ladder to feed a skinny billboard model. Karate suits with black-belts are sold on every street corner, like professional soccer tops sold at the Victoria Market they grow from the ground like toadstools. The Melbourne Zoo is full of stuffed toy animals instead of real animals as they are easier to maintain and the visitors like their predictability
Brightly coloured lures decorate the landscape, fish leave the water in order to chase down a truckload of them. There is a runway show of the latest fashion lures and people hang proudly from the latest most fashionable lures to have deceived and hooked them. They love the lures not because they believe the lie but because they recognise the lie.
please visit http://artsy.net/artist/banksy.
THE FIGHT BETWEEN MOOMBA AND LENT 2019 by Cameron Hayes – Australian Galleries, Sydney 3-22 Sept.
In Bruegel’s 1559 painting THE FIGHT BETWEEN CARNIVAL AND LENT the public performance of piety (LENT) is shown to be undermined by suspicions fakery and signs of evil and therefore as bad as the public performance of sin in the Carnival. The two behaviours portrayed in Carnival then Lent lead to the question- can you pay for bad behaviour with good? Can you buy permission for bad behaviour with public performances of good behaviour?
picture of bruegel’s
In THE FIGHT BETWEEN MOOBA AND LENT the government – via the Moomba parade – gifts the people the opportunity for a public performance of their acceptance of cultural diversity and their tolerance of racial and religious difference.
Australians are accepting of the idea of consistent appalling behaviour being insured against with very public displays of much less expensive good behaviour: Richard Pratt’s PRATT FOUNDATION , Shane Warne’s THE SHANE WARNE FOUNDATION, the major banks with their charitable partnerships and sponsorship programs
Melbourne city is the backdrop for the Moomba parade but the city buildings are barely visible now amongst the growing stacks of shipping containers. Everything Australian’s want comes from overseas shipping containers : fashion, music, cars, tv, acclaim….. and everything Australians fear comes from overseas ; wars, poverty, queues, sharks, refugees……
Australians are constantly told they are the “ lucky country”. When everything you have is because of luck then nothing you have is earned and therefore nothing you have is owned and everything can be taken by unlucky people from unlucky countries. At the back of the Moomba parade representatives of different ethnic communities are stealing our natural resources they have hooked up their toasters to our power lines and dragging the power poles along the parade route.
The Tampa float shows the stranded asylum seekers still living in their Tampa container building more and more empty letterboxes and feeding on a single pig and cow.
The children overboard float has two women “dressed as Muslims “ turning small paddle steamer wheels with babies tied to them through the water below.
Lindy Chamberlian’s Seventh Day Aventism was enough to forfeit her burden of guilt re; baby killing. The Lindy Chamberlian float has two bikini models wearing dingo costumes fighting over Azaria’s jumpsuit underneath a clothesline heavy with dingo bitten infant jumpsuits.
The 2007 fake flyer from the fake Islamic Federation of Australia created and distributed by members of the liberal party to create new fear of Islam and inflame existing hatred of muslims is celebrated in the next float. The man in the float wearing a fake beard and wig continues to hand out the flyers, the float is decorated with suitcases ,planes and bombs.
The parade has been held up because a boy riding the Australian Mining float has become trapped under the wheels of that float. While his father leans onto the float to get a closer look the mother meets the boys outstretched hand with a lit cigarette.
The African gang fear is sponsored by channel seven and represented by giant giraffes around whose necks hang the front doors they have broken into and in their mouths they are devouring fluffy white sheep.
To continue the fear dolphins are dressed up as sharks and white men in life saver costumes are everywhere to sedate, lead and justify our need for protection. The Aboriginal Wheelchair ballet school celebrates our ability to decorate a few aboriginals for achievments in sports and the arts in order for us to be able to ignore the major problems of the many. The parade seperates immigrant Australians on one side and older 2nd., 3rd and 4th. Australians on the other.These older whiter Australians wear head bands and wrist bands and tennis outfits. For white Australians , Australia is something they remember not something they experience.