It’s not often an exhibition is created based on racism in Australia.
Either we ignore it, or we sport t-shirts and bumper stickers saying “Fuck off, we’re full”.
Well, a groundbreaking new exhibition at the Immigration Museum on Flinders Street has changed that, entitled Identity: Yours, Mine, Ours, part of general admission ($10 for adults, free for concession and children).
The first part of the exhibition deals with preconceived notions about people based on what they look like, what they wear, which cultural groups they (seemingly belong to), amongst other factors. While the exhibition has been designed with the utmost involvement with those who are featured in it (Kat Clarke, the Indigenous, hoodie-wearing teen poet and songwriter, for example), it’s the second half that really piqued my interest.
It begins with a simulated tram ride in which a white businessman hops on and expresses disdain and what can only be described as covert racism to an African man speaking in his native dialect on the phone.
There are then depictions of the abovementioned “Fuck off, we’re full” t-shirts, which leads into a timeline of racism and discrimination in Australia and around the world. There’s a lot of reading in this section, so my advice is to allow at least an hour and a half for the exhibition, and don’t take a heavy bag!
Towards the end there are displays of discriminatory and downright racist toys and food, such as golliwogs and Creole cream biscuits. Even Gwen Stefani’s range of L.A.M.B. perfumes are called into question! There are also videos of Pauline Hanson’s 1996 maiden speech and Kevin Rudd saying “sorry” to the Stolen Generations in February 2008.
I’m not sure how long it’s on for, but if you’ve got a spare $10 and a couple of hours, a visit is well worth it for the novel experience of an exhibition based on racism in Australia. In this day and age, it’s sad it is so novel…