Sedel Sunflower Joss Stick Dibbly
As one of Australia's foremost performance artists, Sedel Sunflower Joss Stick Dibbly has for the past few years focussed her energies on her brilliant satirical creation, Pauline Hanson.
Here Sunflower discusses the motivation behind Pauline and the stress the character put on her and her personal life.
Online: You must
be enjoying the break from Pauline.
Sunflower: Absolutely. That woman nearly destroyed my life (laughs)! I didn't realise how difficult she would be. In the past I've mainly done male characters. They're easier, more one dimensional - people pay less attention so you don't have to research all the little details. With Pauline, she got so much media exposure - much more than a man in her situation would - that she ended up with a profile that was constantly under a microscope. I really had to do my homework.
D. O. : How do you choose your characters?
Sunflower: They evolve. I work-shopped Pauline at the Edinburgh Festival. Initially she was much larger than life - more redneck .. and people were actually laughing at her .. so we're talking total Performance Art failure here (laughs). I quickly realised that I had to make her, less intellectual and, more likable. More believable. I knew I'd finally got it right the night all the other Australian performers at the festival had my show closed down. I was very touched.
D. O. : How has the vilification you've enjoyed over the last few years affected you?
Sunflower: Obviously I found it very stressful at times (Joss Stick Dibbly split from musician and fellow Performing Artist Ziggy "John Williamson" Lightning Rod, shortly before the last Federal election), but you have to remember that the vilification is also the applause. With Pauline, I wanted to raise public awareness by targeting the large number of uneducated, ill-informed, narrow-minded, racist, jingoistic idiots who live invisibly all over this country. These people believed in and followed Pauline Hanson because apparently they thought she was just like them. But more importantly, Pauline made thousands of these drop-kicks stand up and be counted. She flushed them out for all to see. And the revulsion this created in the rest of society was, for me, a very positive and rewarding experience.
D. O. : What's your reaction to the number of Performing Artists who are entering Parliament?
Sunflower: I think it's a healthy trend. Although it IS getting rather competitive. Jeff Kennett was about the only actual real politician left in Australia.
D. O. : Which other Artists do you admire?
Sunflower: Well, I love what my friend Gracie Cleopatra Jumbuck has done with her John Howard .. all that bland, hollow sincerity and that thing with the eyebrows is just brilliant .. but for me, and in fact for most performance artists, the master will always be Russia's, Uri Krysolavic. Uri has been some of the most influential and interesting people of the 20th century. I'm particularly fond of his Ayatollah Khomenei and Salmon Rushdie characters.
D. O. : And your future plans?
Sunflower: I've applied for an Arts Council grant to allow me to have a shot at Pope after Jillian Von Lodestone retires. I want to overturn the reformation and reintroduce flogging. I think I could make a difference.