“The humour found in the incongruous meeting of cultures has also been used in the soft sculpture installation The Hunters, 2012. Three elderly women are going hunting. They are wearing inappropriate t-shirts. Those who have ever lived in remote communities would recognise such a scene. Often there is only one shop with limited stock, usually the clothing range is t-shirts featuring popular rap bands, song titles and slogans, or multi-national brands. Here Hayes has used the lyrics from a song called “Horny” (yes, really) by Mousse T, a ludicrously banal pop song that was very popular on Australian radio. The figure is also carrying a ‘Hello Kitty’ bag, one of the world’s largest brands it has permeated nearly every remote corner on earth! The incongruity of the cuteness, the inappropriate slogans, the blood, and carcases – it displays the unique way of life, the idiosyncrasies of the Tiwi people. Hayes also uses this simple, funny scene as a metaphor for what he describes as an ‘ill-fitting culture’. The European choices, the white Australian lifestyle just doesn’t quite meet the women’s needs.” – Marielle Soni, June 2012
Hardly anyone believes in promised wives and just about no one would use it as an excuse to hurt a child. Hundreds of nappies are brought in on the barge every fortnight. It’s hard to dispose of them, so some people throw their dirty nappies on each others roofs. Once I was sitting under the tree, waiting for the shop to open with some children, when the one still in nappies wanted money. She kept trying to sit on my lap and put her arm around my neck. It felt like when you’re unexpectedly falling and tasted like a mouthful of your own blood. Hardly anyone believes in promised wives, and just about no one would use it as an excuse to hurt a child.
When a fight breaks out everyone is so related and allied that you can’t predict who will take which side even in football games. Whenever you’re talking to a Tiwi about other Tiwis you’re always thinking, am I talking about his brother, uncle, nephew, son…
The anthropologist Baldwin Spencer in the 1920s said that when there was a Tiwi battle, people kept changing sides so everyone just went home.
In Milikapiti the dogs hang out in packs. When two packs meet each other, the two lead dogs, instead of fighting each other, lie on their backs in acts of total submission, while their three or four bitches stand behind them chewing nappies.
The white men in Milikapiti are all called Les, and their way of being friendly is to convince you that they are not threat to you in any way. One of the white men in charge of water said – when I asked him a question – “What would I know? I’m just a fucking dumb cunt.”, while his wife stands behind him nodding approvingly. When two white Milikapiti men meet, it is a race to see who can degrade themselves as quickly and as completely as possible.
It took the nuns a couple of months to realise that more girls would attend PE class if it involved less netballs and more shotguns.
When a really old Tiwi woman took all her clothes off and danced naked on the stage at the club, another really old Tiwi woman yelled at her, “Put your clothes on Joan, Your possum’s dead”.
This is Dr Clyde Fenton. In the early 1930s he brought his own broken down old plane and made himself the first flying doctor in the NT. He attended Xavier College, and although he did graduate as a medical doctor in 1925 from Melbourne University, he was a self-taught pilot. A disaster to the Civil Aviation Department, but a hero to the Tiwi people, as he was their only hope for medical assistance at the time.
Despite having a free medical clinic, most Tiwis won’t get help until the absolute last minute. In Milikapiti there are 2 nurses and a doctor flies in on Mondays. Just about everyone walks around with something bandaged.
This is Doctor Clyde Fenton. In the early 1930s he brought his own broken down old plane and made himself the first flying doctor in the NT. According to his autobiography, Clyde Fenton’s sister died in China in 1936 while being visited by their mother. On the day he heard, Fenton flew from Katherine to Darwin, welded an extra fuel tank to his plane, put another fuel tank in the passenger seat, and flew from Darwin to China across the Timor Sea during cyclone season, while Japan were fighting with China, without any landing permits or visas, and without telling anyone or bringing any one, and anyone who complained was some kind of “blasted dim-witted bureaucrat”.
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