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Graffiti, Racism, Newtown

Walking down the back streets and alleys in Newtown is like going through the hallway of modern art museum. Corner to corner you can find fine pieces of graffitis, paintings and various form of art work. Graffiti is strictly illegal as far as I know, but the people here learnt how to live with them and treat it a part of the street, or maybe they just had no other choice.

The local council seems to manage the street signs and public buildings well, but they implicitly allow it in the certain part of the streets and let the artists enjoy the free canvas. It's still a fine line between being an art and stupid vandalism,  but here it's the transformation of mundane objects into arts.

Penis to her eye? I found this be very childish but creative in some way.

Watch out your corners.

Flying high? Birds entrapped on the wall.


One interesting place I visited on the day was the home of Newtown artist, Sergio Redegalli. I got to know his story from TV show 'Dumb, Drunk and Racist' by ABC. Funny documentary about four Indian people visiting Australia with the pre-conception of Australians being dumb, drunk and racist. (See The last part of the episode one was the confrontation with Sergio himself.

He previously has made some local news headlines with his controversial mural with the slogan 'Say No To Burqas'. He believes that he is just practising his right of freedom of speech and if certain people react offensively to his message, then the society already has a problem which needs to be revealed. Then, when one of the four Indian people asked why do you ignite the fire with his slogan, he said what he is doing is like a controlled fire.

In my humble opinion, he is just a dumb, opinionated racist with false logic in his mind. When he does it, it's a controlled fire and when others do, racism? In one scene,

Host: "If a muslim woman doesn't want you to see her face, isn't that her business? Why should you have a right to say show her face if she doesn't want to?"

Sergio: "No sorry, I don't believe in minority rules"

It pretty summarises how messed up his mind is and what he thinks right is total bullshit.

Anyway on the day of shooting, I visited the wall myself and he apparently has changed his slogan. His attention has been moved from burqas to female genital mutilation. Probably clever move to make and less vandalism on his wall.

The other side of the wall, another mural of his 'Free Speech *CONDITIONS APPLY'. I would like to quote the passage from Five fundamental freedoms page in Australian Immigration website.
Freedom of speech 
Australians are free, within the bounds of the law, to say or write what we think privately or publicly, about the government, or about any topic. We do not censor the media and may criticise the government without fear of arrest. Free speech comes from facts, not rumours, and the intention must be constructive, not to do harm. There are laws to protect a person's good name and integrity against false information. There are laws against saying or writing things to incite hatred against others because of their culture, ethnicity or background. Freedom of speech is not an excuse to harm others.
Even with my poor second language English skill, I can understand the essence of the idea. Mr. Sergio said his message is not harmful as his wording only includes 'No To Burqas', not 'ban' or 'fuck'. With his right of freedom of speech, he lives in the house of this high walls with several surveillance cameras. Good to be free.

All the images were taken with X100.

Thanks for visiting.

UPDATES: 09/AUG/2012 Some feedback from Sergio himself.

All the images were published under the "Creative Commons" licence.


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