Went to see a monographic exhibition by an artist called Patricia Piccinini. Mostly v interesting stuff around ideas about the interface between nature and science or technology but there was one work which I really had problems with. It had miniaturized trucks facing five video monitors featuring Asian women, all saying a line which was translated underneath and cut with images of roads and trucks. They were all Japanese and so I began to wonder why the artist would have chosen to use images of Japanese women when she is not Japanese or from a Japanese background herself.

I asked the gallery assistant whether the work had been shown in Japan (maybe that was the reason - that Piccinini had considered her audience when making that work). She told us that the artist had traveled to Japan to make the work and she had shown it there. She found girls off the street who seemed like trendy young things who would be up for the idea of being part of a 'cult' called Truck Babies. It was meant to be a comment on Japanese hyper-consumerism.

Standing there, I wondered out loud why the artist didn't just walk the streets of Australia finding likely girls. Afterall, you could find their equivalent here, I said. The gallery assistant said yes, but they're like that in Japan, aren't they? I said, So [the artist] is just drawing on steroetypes of Japan. The assistant didn't meet my eye and shuffled off and we left the room. I guess I had pointed out her own willing acceptance of the stereotype as well as the artist's.

Later, feeling kind of smug for pointing out to everyone within hearing distance that Patricia Piccinini had made a dodgy work, I realised that I hadn't been pronouncing her name as I knew it must be pronounced. I was saying Pichanini, instead of Pickaninny because I couldn't bring myself to say it. What's all that about? Weird liberal self-censorship because even saying the word pickaninny makes me a 1930s style racist?

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