Gideon Polya, “Melbourne Madonna. Australian Hedonism, Benign Racism & Denial”, MWC News, 17 April 2007.
For an image of the huge painting “Melbourne Madonna” (1.3 x 2.9 metres) see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/3429309944/in/set-72157616584873236/ .
Melbourne Madonna. Australian Hedonism, Benign Racism & Denial
MELBOURNE MADONNA is the third painting in a series of huge paintings I have created that are dedicated to the transcendent importance and sanctity of Mother and Child. This message has to be endlessly re-stated because the awful current reality is that 16 million people die avoidably each year on Planet Earth, about 12 million are Women or Children and about 9 million of these avoidable deaths are of under under-5 year old infants. “Melbourne Madonna” uniquely captures the quintessential innocence, hedonism and denial of the happy, a-political people of this great, liberal city who simply “look the other way” over their national complicity in horrendous world events such as this continuing global avoidable mortality holocaust in the Third World.
The first painting in this series was “Manhattan Madonna”(see “Art for Peace, Planet, Mother & Child”: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/home ) that depicts a young Bengali or Third World mother, her born child and her unborn child superimposed upon Manhattan as seen from East of the Brooklyn Bridge just a few seconds before the second plane slams into the South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11. Manhattan is one of the greatest works of Man but the immense and iconic Twin Towers were reduced to rubble in less than a minute in this appalling atrocity. Yet Mother and Child will continue whether in the West or in the Third World. The fundamental message of this 9/11 Memorial painting is that Mother and Child transcend the greatest works of Man.
The second painting in this series was “Sydney Madonna” that depicts an Aboriginal or Australoid Mother and Child superimposed – together with the animals, trees and marine creatures of Wild Australia - on what is arguably the most beautiful man-made landscape in the world, that of the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the North Shore and Sydney Harbor. The same essential message is given – that Mother and Child and Wild Nature transcend the greatest works of Man. However this truism must be needlessly repeated because 44,000 people - three quarters women and children – perish avoidably EACH DAY on Planet Earth. Indeed in Australia the “annual death rate” for Indigenous Australians (Aboriginal Australians) is 2.2% as compared to 0.7% for White Australians and 2.5% for Australian Sheep.
“Melbourne Madonna” is a huge acrylic painting (1.34 meters x 2.84 meters on doubly-primed canvas) that is based on the Golden Rectangle-Fibonacci Series (Da Vinci Code) Geometry of many Italian Renaissance “Madonna and Child” paintings (e.g. those of Raphael, Botticelli, Titian, Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci). Inherent in this geometry is not only Sacred symbolism but Profane imagery deriving from pre-Christian use of these patterns e.g. the Vesica Pisces (the Christian Fish and the Gothic Arch of Churches but also male and female sexual parts) and the 4-petalled Truelove flower (the Golden Flowers; the Christian Cross and the Father, Son, Holy Spirit and Virgin Mary but also an aphrodisiac, a “lucky four” symbol and a flower bringing “luck in love’) (for details of the REAL Da Vinci Code see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/sacred-profane-real-da-vinci-code-exposed ).
My “Melbourne Madonna” and her 2 children (one a blond and blue-eyed boy and the other a much darker girl) are superimposed over the iconic image of the famous triple-domed Flinders Street Railway Station at the heart of the City. The Melbourne Madonna is presented as a typical young Melburnian woman that one sees on the trains – red hair, nose stud and cheerful funky fashion. Her handmaidens are similarly “sporty” and cheerful Melbourne girls. The superimposition over the Flinders Street Station lends an almost irreverent, clown-like cheerfulness to the Madonna, redolent of both Melbourne’s and Sydney’s Luna Park Amusement Park Entrances. At the top of the painting are the ever-present seagulls of this major Port City that fly further inland at times of storm. At the bottom of the paintings are scores of ordinary Melburnians going between the Suburbs and the City via the Flinders Street Railway Station (I have put several family members in the painting).
The essence of the imagery is of happy suburban normalcy, of the simple joys of work and play unruffled by the big issues of the world. Indeed the now-sunny Melbourne in the grip of drought is one of the world’s big cities closest to the South Pole. The “Melbourne Madonna” is about the simple pleasures of ordinary life conducted between City and Suburbs and untrammeled by the great issues of Spaceship Earth. Melburnians who have seen the painting agree – that’s our undemonstratively, low-key, quietly hedonistic and quintessentially civilized Melbourne.
Melbourne is one of the major cities of a country that was among the first to have trade unions, the 8 hour working day, the basic wage, free and compulsory secular education, one man one vote, female suffrage, compulsory voting, public hospitals, old aged pensions and social services such as unemployment relief.
Melburnians are aware of the past wrongs done to Aboriginal Australians and a hundred thousand marched in a public demonstration of remorse on Sorry Day some years ago. Forty years ago a national referendum overwhelmingly voted for finally “counting” Aboriginal Australians as citizens of Australia after 2 centuries of subjugation. Melbourne is a very multicultural city (the biggest Greek city after Athens and Thessaloniki). Melburnians are avowedly anti-racist and there are laws prohibiting religious and racial bigotry. Four years ago 150,000 Melburnians marched against the impending illegal Anglo-American-Australian invasion of Iraq. Last year 30,000 out of 4 million Melburnians marched against global warming.
Yet Melburnians like other Australians enhance enjoyment of their simple hedonism and self-righteous decency by DENIAL and determined IGNORING of horrendous realities in which they are complicit in a democratic country with compulsory voting. Melburnians, like other Australians, are aware of the World War 2 Jewish Holocaust (6 million victims) but are largely unaware of the WW2 man-made Bengal Famine in British-ruled India that killed 4 million Hindu and Muslim victims and was associated with horrendous, large-scale military and civilian sexual abuse of starving women and girls. Melburnians are “sorry” for past wrongs to Indigenous (Aboriginal) Australians and are generally aware that Aboriginal life expectancy is nearly 2 decades less than for White Australians – yet few would be aware that the “annual death rate” for Indigenous Australians (Aboriginal Australians) is 2.2% as compared to 0.7% for White Australians and 2.5% for Australian Sheep.
About 50% of Melburnians have repeatedly voted for the ruling Federal Bush-ite Conservative Coalition Government. Yet Melburnians and Australians IGNORE the horrendous human cost of Bush’s War on Terror that has so far been associated with 1.0 million post-invasion excess deaths in Occupied Iraq and 2.4 million post-invasion excess deaths in Occupied Afghanistan. On Saint Patrick’s Day in 2007 only about 300 Melburnians (my partner and myself included) demonstrated against the Iraq War on the 4th Anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Only the Bush-ites support continued Occupation of Iraq but there is bi-partisan Australian agreement for continued occupation of Afghanistan. Bush’s War on Terror is in horrible reality a War on Women and Children, a War on Asian Women and Children, a War on Arab Women and Children, a War on Muslim Women and Children and indeed a war on Non-European Women and Children extending from US surrogate-occupied Somalia in East Africa to US-occupied Afghanistan in South Asia.
Iran is subject to US-backed terrorism from Pakistan’s Baluchistan and is under acute threat of conventional or even nuclear attack from US-Israeli State Terrorism (USIST). Yet a major Australian public figure totally and outspokenly opposed to this utterly evil prospect, Sheik Hilaly, has been virulently excoriated by both sides of politics in Australia which are firmly committed to a dog-whistling, politically correct racism (PC racism) or benign racism involving cowardly, vote-winning xenophobia, anti-Arab anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
However the most serious IGNORING involves greenhouse gas pollution. Australia is the big country with the highest per capita annual carbon dioxide pollution; Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter and the US is the world’s biggest greenhouse gas polluter; neither will sign up to the Kyoto Protocol; and neither will agree to substantial cut-backs in carbon dioxide pollution. Unfortunately both major parties in Australia are committed to Coal (although the Opposition Labor Party will sign Kyoto and favours increased energy efficiency and use of renewables). Selfish, “benign racist”, Climate Criminal greed by Australia is acutely threatening deltaic Africa, Asia, Americas, Europe and the Pacific with Climate Genocide.
Ordinary Germans claimed in 1945 that they did not know of the Nazi atrocities. Australians have no such excuse, notwithstanding the lying and holocaust-ignoring by benign racist Mainstream media and politicians. Thanks to the Internet, authoritative sources such as UNICEF and media such as MWC News, the awful truth is just a few mouse clicks away for Westerners, Australians and for Melburnians such as the Melbourne Madonna.