Friday, April 29, 2016

How to paint a motoka

New Zealand's censor has ordered the Wicked Campers rental van company to remove a number of painted images from its vehicles. Denizens of a certain right-wing website are celebrating Wicked Campers' more misogynistic doodles by talking about freedom of speech. Last year, though, these champions of free speech were rather upset when Canterbury museum exhibited a couple of T shirts that made crude fun of Christian doctrine.

I dislike the paintings on Wicked Camper vans not because they are offensive, but because they are ugly and banal. The Wicked Campers should take lessons in vehicle art from Tonga's Seleka Kava Club, whose members rescued and restored a truck then covered it in exuberant and provocative paintings and slogans.

The Selekarians, as they call themselves, drive from their headquarters on the edge of Nuku'alofa into the Tongan countryside, emerging in villages and on beaches to sell their art and hold impromptu parties.

The photograph at the top of this post shows Tevita Latu, tufunga 'i and the founder of Seleka, standing in front of the club's truck with the American artist Sally Richardson in 2013. 'Toua Fekai' means, roughly, savage brewer of kava.

I wrote last year about the night the Selekarians' magic bus visited me.

Footnote: Virginie Dourlet, a representative of Parisian intellection in the Kingdom of Tonga and author of a very interesting twitter feed, tells me that the Selekarians' truck has been out of action for some time now. A pity. Can someone pinch and convert one of the New Zealand diplomatic fleet for them?

[Posted by Scott Hamilton]


Blogger Richard said...

I like graffiti and street art but it is rarely anything like that. Also, the aim, more or less, of the artists is to stay anonymous. But that area is complex... It has a certain code and even a mystery that interests me.
Of course it has been around for long time.

But I don't like the Wicked Campers slogans. I think there are limits to free speech. If graffiti went that way I would support strong suppression of it. We have to maintain certain protocols and levels of decency or we begin to descend into barbarism.

We have a fair idea of where these things start and end. I wouldn't want my grandchildren seeing those signs. No way. I'm glad they are taking legal action against them.

The Selekarians could also go to far in that direction. But it seems interesting at the moment. I don't think they are feeding pornography and misogyny or attacks on other races and homosexuals etc

If they go too far in that direction the socious (Charles Bernstein's word) will naturally react against them. That is understandable and good.

But it is good they have their club and are keeping alive alternative ideas (political and other).

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