Describe the impact on you of ONE of the paintings viewed on our tour- talk about how it has opened up your understanding of the key issues in the period we are studying!
This is a painting in 1905 by Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo called “Poverty makes strange bedfellows”. It is currently being displayed in the New South Wales Art Gallery, which I had the honor of seeing in person. The meaning is quite obvious as it is about the economic crisis and how it brought people from all aspects of life together. I find this piece interesting because it makes me feel captivated yet sad at the same time. Those with all the money in the world now shares a bed with those ignored by society. The rich unite with the poor, now only seen as equal human beings. However, this only happened because the money is gone. How hypocritical it is.
I am reminded of Kim Scott’s “That Deadman Dance” and how the European settlers took the innocent aboriginal’s land and exploit it. The settlers saw the land only as it is, as a product, as a money-making machine. Blinded by wealth, they would only realize when all of it is gone. Just like the businessmen in the painting, once deprived of wealth, they are no better than the poor, the unfortunate and the homeless. It makes me wonder, after the crisis had passed, would the businessmen still remember the kind-hearted individuals that welcomed them with open arms and gave them a place to rest or would they just carry on and act like it had never happened. Racism and sexism were still at its highest peak back in the 20th century, so for them to rest aside an elderly woman and a person of color showed how severe the economic crisis had been. Were these entrepreneurs at all grateful or just desperate enough to swallow their pride for a while?
“Hypocrisy” is the word I would use to describe the way I feel about this work. You would never ever see people from two vastly different poles of life come together unless they were absolutely forced to, especially in the past.