Homophobic Toilet Graffiti, Once Shown as Art, to be Removed


Homophobic and racist graffiti that has covered the walls and doors of a public toilet at Cockatoo Island in Sydney is to be removed following a complaint by Bruce Thompson, a former RailCorp train guard, according to SX News.

AhkeeThe graffiti came to the public’s attention in July when it was displayed as an artwork, a “found object,” by artist Vernon Ah Kee in the Sydney Bieniale:

“The graffiti railed against gay ‘cocksuckers’ and ‘arselickers’, and Italian and Greek migrants. Queensland artist Ah Kee was reportedly making a statement about his experience of prejudice as a man of Aboriginal and Chinese descent. A complaint about Ah Kee’s work was then made by Thompson, who said: ‘I don’t believe that offensive statements are art. I just think they’re offensive.’ While Biennale management stood behind Ah Kee, the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust has now written to Mr Thompson committing to removing the graffiti.”

Said Thompson, who is currently in a legal battle with his former employer over similar graffiti at his former workplace: “It’s a victory for gay men and so-called ‘wogs’ who were psychologically harmed by the graffiti more than two decades ago. I know what they would have gone through because of what happened to me at RailCorp.”

Homophobic graffiti to be removed [sx news]


  1. Michael W. says

    Judging by the state of that restroom, I can’t imagine it was seen by too many people of discriminating taste anyway. While they’re removing the graffiti, perhaps they could run a mop over the floor…

  2. says

    I don’t think the removal of the artwork is a victory for anyone but Thompson. The artwork is documenting hatred, not promoting it. Removing the work is like removing any movie from the theatres that had a gay bashing scene as part of a documentary. Getting rid of the work is just putting the ideas of hate back in the closet instead of shedding light to what’s really going on.

    Artistically, the artwork is following a current trend with ‘found objects’ and appropriation. (And, just like a lot of new and current art of the time, whether now or 500 years ago, it’s very controversial because it doesn’t ‘look’ like ‘art’.) The artist wanted to share his experience of feeling prejudice, and Thompson experienced it 100%, so much so, that he had to complain about it. He’s doing a disservice but not letting other people experience the artwork. I wish he directed his feelings towards the haters, not the artist.

  3. Sean says

    I remember a newspaper box outside a Knights of Columbus meeting house in Toronto. It was absolutely covered in homophobic and racist graffiti. I thought is was a fantastic found piece and thought it belonged in an art gallery, but that public toilet is disgusting, if I had to go in there it would freak me out, and put up some stall walls for cryin’ out loud!

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