Canvassed: Artist Chris Degenhardt with his impression of the WRC, titled Invasion.
Canvassed: Artist Chris Degenhardt with his impression of the WRC, titled Invasion. Crystal Spencer

Nazi art in Repco Rally debate

A PAINTING depicting Repco Rally Australia with Nazis and a dead koala will be the centrepiece of an art exhibition at Murwillumbah Library next week.

Rally Australia chairman Alan Evans yesterday labelled the work “puerile”.

“The depiction of Nazis is offensive to people who suffered under the Nazis,” Mr Evans said.

“The depiction of injured koalas as well is complete misrepresentation of what happened out there.”

The painting, titled Invasion, is by Nobbys Creek resident Chris Degenhardt.

Mr Degenhardt said his work was a social commentary on the “demolition of democracy” to allow the Australian leg of the World Rally Championships (WRC) in Tweed last year.

He said the State Government's introduction of special legislation in parliament to approve the rally inspired his work.

Mr Evans said while the painting could be considered freedom of speech, he felt it had no place.

“It doesn't do any good for the people who are trying to put a point of view across that they resort to gross misrepresentation,” he said.

“The only people at risk during the rally were the rally drivers themselves.”

Mr Degenhardt said he did not oppose the rally, but did disapprove of its placement in the Tweed.

“It was a sense of invasion. We had no official channel where we could go to make a peaceful objection. I felt pretty helpless,” he said.

“It's an expression of my frustration concerning the undemocratic way in which the Repco Rally was foisted on the local community, with total disregard for ratepayers' views.

“I'm concerned for what else this power can do. The government is not showing respect for people who fought for democracy in this country.”

The painting was expected to go up next Thursday.

Despite his support of the No Rally Group, Mr Degenhardt said the work was done independently.

He said it would be interesting to see the public and council reaction to his work.

“I'm expecting some backlash but I don't see how they could stop me,” he said.

“It's an expression of art and freedom of speech.”

Mr Degenhardt said he included the dead koala because he believed the rally was a threat to wildlife and a man throwing his fists because of drunken behaviour associated with rally spectators.

He said the Nazi salute was included because of the ties to former FIA boss Max Mosley, who oversaw the WRC.

In 2008, Mr Mosley, whose father was a British fascist leader in the 1930s, made headlines around the world after being filmed taking part in sex acts with sex workers which were reported to have involved Nazi role playing. Tweed area librarian Jo Carmody said Murwillumbah Library artwork space was to encourage local creativity.

“It's just their chance to display their work. It's a fairly new service and people enjoy looking at the new works.”

A Tweed Shire Council spokeswoman said the library would hang the work: “The Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads Library have been hanging local artists' works for a number of months. This is an opportunity for artists who may otherwise not be able access gallery space to have their works seen by the general public. Mr Degenhardt is a local artist who is taking advantage of that opportunity.”

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