Scratch an Aussie


Richard Bell works indirectly with ongoing postcolonial debates about telepathy, modernity, physics and appropriation in Australian art, with his main focus being a pop political works that highlight indigenous issues. Bell’s postcolonial art practice and theory work with and against the telepathy and appropriation of white Australian artist Imants Tillers and Tillers’ reference to the quantum physics of Bell’s Theorem. Richard Bell writes his own Bell’s Theorem as a polemic against Tillers’ and white appropriation of indigenous art. Scratch an Aussie is a video performance in which Bell poses as black Freud dressed in period costume to conjure if not a black Freud then perhaps Freud’s contemporary William du Bois who was both black and as equally well dressed and middle class as Freud. Despite the costume, Bell acts as himself with a contemporary and coarse Australian accent, joking while at times using coarse, in-your-face lingo and barbed engagement with tanned and beachy-looking white youths in golden swimwear. Bell redirects psychic powers of irony, humour, empathy and mind-reading into postcolonial and contemporary ethnographic frame where the white psyche and body is analysed. Bell performs Du Bois’ postcolonial work with telepathy, affect and psychoanalysis, which is also extended by postcolonial theorist Couz Venn. Bell/Freud also undergoes therapy with black power and Australian indigenous and aboriginal rights countercultural icon, actor and former Clash band member Gary Foley, who helped create the contemporary aboriginal flag.