Measuring up Marilyn


Down the end of View Street is this mountainous bottom. Cotton-tailed and mooning the possums. The nocturnes don’t know noon from midnight. Star struck as they are, in perpetual lunar eclipse.

moon2Big Marilyn – apparently visible from the moon – is otherwise facing Aussie Disposals. And I do wonder, if she were alive and 89, would she feel disposed of, here in this place? All the way from the US of A, to the arse-end of a country of the rest of the world. Pet would never have heard of Bendigo, you bet.

But here she is, for four long months, our most photographed woman. The infamous subway-pose sculpture placed to promote an exhibition.

The instagramers have come from across the land, wielding selfie sticks, day night, day night, snapping her at all angles. Yes, that view from the rear is a popular one. Distracting too.

There’s been plenty of Lara Bingles at the traffic lights beside. You can image the phone calls.

“Dad, I’ve just crashed the SUV.”

“Well, where the bloody hell are you?!”

Oh, it is art. A colleague’s mum, early 70s, reckons she was a piece of work. “It’d be like, in 30 years, everyone worshipping Monica Lewinsky. She was on with Kennedy you know.” Can you imagine the artistic portrayal? In that dress!

More than one of us has wondered what Queen Victoria thinks, stuck in prim stone just to the left hand buttock and beside the RSL Hall.

“Victoria was a young woman once too,” I overheard. Yes, she loved a bit of ‘how’s your president’. Just think of all those children. It’s well known she didn’t love children, so it does seem a natural conclusion. But what can we conclude from this eight-metre spectacle placed in Bendigo’s most prominent spot?

Are we still just exploiting the image of the hot dumb blonde? Are we publicly celebrating all we’re fighting to transcend? Or does art excuse all? There have been attempts to cover her up. Digitally.

The local social media scene has been peppered with edited images of Big Maz, sporting T-shirts sporting local business logos. All in jest, until the Suicide Prevention Awareness Network joined in.

She was, when all was said, photographed and done, a broken soul. Her life was a lesson in what not to sell. And here she is in Bendigo, selling much more than gallery tickets. Not least long lunches and fast food. ‘Some like it hot dog’ anyone?

A friend’s aunt was incensed at the sculpture. “Of all the women we could have put there,” she said. “How many are more deserving than that Marilyn Monroe!”

The niece was curious, asking who the aunt would chose to immortalise in metal and crane into place at Charing Cross. After some moments the answer was clear. Cathy Freeman.

Yes, Cathy Freeman, in head-to-toe lycra. Never mind that it’s body hugging. Now that was an iconic moment worthy of commemoration, so she said.

It’s true. We all remember our Cathy, a triumphant green-and-gold streak trailing the Aboriginal flag. Certainly she’d team a little neater with the neighbouring Aussie Disposals.


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