Bek Saltmarsh - Better anti-colonialism through paper pulp

Arts Access Victoria presents The Museum of Us

Bek is a non-binary disabled artist of Aboriginal, Romani, and Sephardic descent living on Jaadwa and Jaara country.

Photograph of a sheet of handmade paper, produced from pulped high school text books. Fragments of phrases appear, such as ‘and settled the’, ‘ORDERS’, ‘noted for his inhuman cruelty’, ‘police’, ‘convicts were’ and ‘His victim was a young black’.

About the work

The recorded history of so-called ‘Australia’ is generally violent, vitriolic, and inaccurate rubbish, and doesn’t recognise Aboriginal people in any acceptable way.

This artwork takes one such history, a high school textbook, and reclaims its materials to create something positive with potential.

Parts of the original text remain visible, to acknowledge and not erase damage already caused.

The new paper also integrates plant material, from both native and significant, and invasive and introduced plants.

About the artist

Bek is a non-binary disabled artist of Aboriginal, Romani, and Sephardic descent living on Jaadwa and Jaara country, who works mostly in ceramics and weaving, but who dabbles in all things always.

It turns out paper-making is restful enough for their fatigue levels, so this project might become a personal crusade.

When they are not tearing up trash books, Bek studies Spanish and ATSI Cultural Arts in order to know their many ancestral facets better.

If Bek were an animal, they would be a lynx, or a magpie, or a bit of both at the same time, but whatever the outcome, it would involve a lot of singing and sleep.

Audio version of text