Ruscha activity 1: Illegal Immigrants

My first shot. I made this while I was packing. It draws inspiration from Ruscha’s ‘Colored People’. The use by Ruscha of a contentious title (a demeaning, if not racist, term) draws attention to the problematic nature of a white artist casting a gaze on an(other) community, which is subverted by the, seemingly unrelated, content (which does, though, relate to the content of an earlier Ruscha book, but now with colour rather than monochrome images – this draws attention to the synchronic and diachronic dimensions in understanding a body of work). As a first attempt, my work is rather crude. As anyone who has traveled to Australia knows, there are strict interdictions on the import of plant and other organic material, and this is firmly policed at the airport. The government also sanctions harsh treatment of refugees and others seeking entry to the country, particularly those who travel by boat. I don’t want to develop this further, but its an interesting, if frivolous, attempt to get a feel for the format. I haven’t done the required photoshop work to get the full Ruscha look (which is important for this work, in that the tight masking of the images suggests a clinical/colonial gaze, which abstracts its object from context and lays it out for scrutiny, in the manner that, for instance, plants and animals are laid out for zoological and botanical analysis and classification, and different racial and social groups become objects in Galton’s racist eugenic project). Packing took priority, though.