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.
REVIEW, by Tasneem Chopra, July 2018
ARTIST: Cameron Hayes
AUSTRALIA: A History of Terrogees
Hayes contemporary analysis of Australia’s political landscape, makes no apology for a culture entrenched in xenophobia. The satirical jabs at white privilege and entitlement stemming from the fragility of a white settler colonial mindset, manifest in his works, particularly, The End of the Moomba Parade, Terrorists in a Cake Shop and What happens when pretend politicians pretend to be terrorists, 2009-2011.
Each piece examines an event in Australia’s recent history or demographic make-up, highlighting the revulsion shown for migrants matched only by an unwitting dependence on their economic value. The contradiction and conflict of this dependence, renders the morality of the powerful as inherently self-serving. The assertion that Aboriginals, African, Asian and Muslim Australians, for example can only be of worth if at all, when they ascribe to the parameters set for them by the State, is inferred repeatedly. And when these communities fail to abide the standards of a well behaved minority, they instantly become demonized – the folk devil we have to have.
Themes of racism, Islamophobia, exploitation, ostracizing, greed, deceit, corruption and collective delusion of both the elite and inept strata’s of society, permeate Hayes artworks in varied degrees. The intricacy and detail of his paintings provide a layered analysis that probe beyond the banal ugliness of socio-political obfuscation. That is, when you delve further, the messaging is clear; no amount of political clout and media distortion give legitimacy to abuse of power. The ripples of humanity in silenced voices and diligent work ethic of the migrant and refugee ‘other’, loom clear in the background – representing the beating heart that keeps this nation moving, despite the relentless malfeasance.
The colloquial conflation of Muslim-with-Islam-with –refugee-with-terrorist, proposing all labels equate with the same cultural bogeyman as an endpoint, allows for a powerful artistic take down by Hayes of this tired trope of Australian minorities.
Hayes’ work is vibrant, provocative and formidable. As a viewer you cannot help but be absorbed by the brilliant colours and intricate detail that draw you into this satirical quagmire. The art makes bold assertions about Australia’s political culture that doesn’t just question the integrity of our migration policy, but expose the racist undercurrent of a system centred on racial profiling. Further, he reveals the dehumanising of Indigenous Australians whose existence it seems, pivots on either their entertainment value, or, burden to the State. In all, Hayes’ brilliantly encapsulates the myopia of white saviour/master/supremacy ideology, masquerading as conservative political dogma in the name of patriotism.
Review by : Tasneem Chopra, Cross Cultural Consultant, former Curator at Islamic Museum of Australia and the Immigration Museum, Melbourne