Tuesday, 2 August 2016
Clinton bikini/niqab mural becomes black wall as Melbourne authorities win censorship battle
A mural of a scantily-clad Hillary Clinton created by an Australian artist was briefly changed into a Muslim woman dressed in a niqab, following a complaint by the local council. However, the latest makeover also left the authorities unimpressed.
After seeing the mural of the woman in the niqab, with just her eyes visible, which was created by a street artist known as Lushsux, Maribyrnong Council in Melbourne did not take kindly to the new creation.
A post on social media by Lushsux with the caption “Looks like the council wins” shows a council worker with a brush painting over the Muslim woman, so the wall is completely black in a move that Lushsux told RT was "pathetic."
The controversy originally started after Maribyrnong Council threatened Lushsux with a fine after he painted a mural of Democratic presidential candidate Clinton wearing a star-spangled swimsuit with $100 bills tucked into it. Lushsux said he got the idea from a meme on the internet and wanted to paint it so “the virality of the meme has now turned into the virality of the wall.”
However, not everyone shared his vision of the art he was trying to create.
“We believe that this mural is offensive because of the depiction of a near-naked woman, not on the basis of disrespect to Hillary Clinton, and it is not in keeping with our stance on gender equity,” the council’s chief executive, Stephen Wall, said.
Lushsux confirmed that the mural of the Democratic presidential candidate was not removed “because it was Hillary” rather because of her lack of clothes. At least, that’s what the council claim, though it’s something that he disputes.
“I don’t quite understand why that is offensive by any means. She is not naked,” he told RT.
Lushsux briefly had his Instagram account shut down, while he was given 10 days to remove the “offensive” mural by the council, which is exactly what he did. In its place, he created a painting of a Muslim woman wearing a niqab.
“I could have done her pantsuit that she always seems to wear in different colors, but I tried to think of a way to counter the narrative that they are saying something is offensive – a woman who is not even naked is offensive,” the street artist explained to RT.
“So I thought, why don’t I cover her with the niqab? If I do that, they can’t say it is offensive because it is a beautiful Muslim woman now. It is not Hillary Clinton.”
In an earlier Facebook post, he wrote that “no reasonable person would consider this offensive” after he had painted the mural of the “beautiful” Muslim woman, while adding that “If you do consider it offensive you are a sexist, racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, uncultured and ignorant bigot.”
Lushsux also painted a mural of Clinton’s presidential rival Donald Trump, which he was also forced to censor by the local council. Originally entitled ‘The Dongald’, the street artist made amendments by painting what appears to be Clinton’s face on to a part of Trump’s body.
“Had to censor The Dongald, don't know if I just made it more offensive or not?” Lushsux wrote on social media. Meanwhile, he told RT that he believes there was less fuss made about the Trump mural because of public opinion being largely against the Republican candidate.
“It is counter to their narrative and it’s not something they find offensive,” Lushsux explained to RT. “They find that funny whereas someone on the other side of the political spectrum would say find Hillary funny and would find Donald Trump a bit rude,” he concluded.
Plenty of social media users gave their backing to Lushsux across various platforms. One Instagram user wrote: “So the council is happy to have semi naked Clinton but not a respectful pic of a Muslim woman.”
A Facebook post stated: “Haven't seen your work before but I love the fact you have a sense of humour and covered an ‘offensive’ bikini pic with a niqab clad beauty. Which is more offensive? A woman ‘au naturelle’ or a woman who is forced to cover up? Clever, very clever. Hope to see more of your work in the future.”
However, not everyone was complimentary of Lushsux’s work.
“FYI sexualising Hilary Clinton and depicting her in a swimsuit isn't provocative or cool, just sexist,” one Twitter user wrote.