Racist “Art”

A certain photographer has really stirred the pot.  “Racist” and “ignorant” is what he’s being called.



Colonialism at it’s finest…

A British photographer has really stirred the pot twisted the knife this month by posting online a batch of culturally misrepresented images.  “Racist” and “ignorant” is what he’s being called.  His images are being labelled “dress up”, “unintelligent”, and “unenlightened”.





What do you feel when you look at these images?

Perhaps disgust, offence, confusion?  Does he think that dressing models in the traditional, sacred, regalia of, say, Maori peoples or Australian Aboriginal tribes would be appropriate?  Probably not!  One would expect ridicule for attempting to turn a cultural stereotype into a hipster fashion statement.  So why did this photographer feel that it would be okay to misappropriate First Nations regalia?



Here are some of my favorite protest comments, pulled off his Facebook images:

“How can you call racism ‘art’?”

“Time to show some leadership and remove this from your page. Who sits back and thinks “hey, this is a good idea!” You wouldn’t dress anyone in blackface, what makes you think redface is any better?”

“My culture is no fashion statement!”

“Another vacuous hipster without an imagination….or a clue”

“Didn’t they teach you how offensive this is in art school, or in business school, or in the real world in which colonialism is an ongoing process?”

“Wow, Charlie Turner, thanks for turning an important symbol in my culture into your douchey hipster fashion statement.”

“deplorable. what next? nazi romanticism?”



Agreed!  Now to express my own additional disgust:  A pink headdress, really?  You might as well go straight to Mattel and create a blond haired war-painted doll with a skank-ified rendition of a tassled leather mini-dress, and give her a pull-string that makes her say “How”.  Sell thousands of the dolls before enough (rightfully) insulted First Nations women and men make a stink about it, then release an ‘apology’ of ‘unintentional’ wrongdoing, and claim that you actually ‘respect’ all cultures….


Oh wait!  They already tried that!

The “We Are Festival” that the images were taken for released an ‘apology’ yesterday, along with a cutesy little peace symbol, as if that would reverse their pre-meditated racist endorsement:



Their statement of apology really didn’t seem all that sincere, seeing as how this image below was still displayed on the same page as the ‘apology’:



To add insult to injury:

The first image the photographer posted to Facebook was on May 8th.  His page is now littered with pleas to remove the offensive images.  Today is May 23rd, and still the images remain.  Any truly apologetic and respectful business person would have handled this ‘situation’ immediately.  Apparently Mr. Turner feels that adding gas to the fire is a better approach.  “No publicity is bad publicity”, right?


Here, all.  You might enjoy some extra reading material:





“United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – Articles that are violated by this images:

Article 11
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.
2. States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent
or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.

Article 12
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practise, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains.
2. States shall seek to enable the access and/or repatriation of ceremonial objects and human remains in their possession through fair, transparent and effective mechanisms developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned.

Article 31
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their
sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic
resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.”

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