The Bright Line Between Pleasure And Pain


You may know Arlene Textaqueen as the globetrotting, texta-wielding superhero artist she obviously is. You may also know something of the distinctive nude portraits she creates with felt-tip pens, and have wondered how she achieves what are sometimes very subtle emotional effects despite using such violent riots of colour.

So maybe you think you know Texta. But reading her answers we discovered that while all that is true, there’s another side to this remarkable woman, a darker side expressed by her relationship with what are commonly called "dad jokes". Read on, moaning quietly as necessary…

1. What’s the headline you’d most like to see on the front page of a daily newspaper?
I hear corduroy pillows have been making headlines…

2. If you could oblige everyone in Australia to click through to one webpage, which one would it be? (My sister would do the same for me.)

3. What is one thing you’ve always wondered about economics but were too afraid to ask?
Can someone do my tax in exchange for a drawing?

4. When did you last eat a meat pie?
Real or mock? Real — probably 1989. Mock — in January but I’m wheat-free these days.

5. What’s the oldest thing in your fridge?
Umeboshi paste, that stuff lasts a lifetime.

6. Has anyone got a climate change policy you agree with? Who?
My mum says "Go to another country if you want a change of climate."

7. When was the first time you changed your mind on something important?
When I changed my university preferences from environmental science to art.

8. What’s the household chore you relish the most?
Washing the dishes with the fuchsia outside in bloom.

9. What sort of shoes do you wear to work?
I work from home so usually none, or some slippers knitted by my old housemate Tom’s gran.

10. What campaigning tactic do you most want to see in this year’s federal election?
I hear the Party Party is giving out free home brew kits…

11. Nominate a new public holiday.
Walk to work day.

12. If you could go tomorrow anywhere in Australia for a holiday, where would you go?
The Daintree, or to Perth to see my folks. Can I take my family to the Daintree?

13. What’s your favourite YouTube video?
Oh sorry, it’s that lion reunion one, I cry every time. Whitney is so emotionally manipulative.

14. If you were given $5 million, what would you spend it on?
I’d buy a shopfront residence in Collingwood or Abbotsford and set up a women of colour arty centre/grant scheme.

15. Who would you most like to sit next to on a long haul flight?
Grace Jones. I doubt we’d be sitting.  

16. What trivia question/topic will you beat everyone else in the pub to the buzzer on?
The archival qualities of different brands of felt-tip markers.

17. Complete this sentence. I’d like to hear Kevin Rudd say "…"
Exactly that: "…" — i.e. nothing at all. The sound of his voice makes my skin crawl. And I don’t care so much about what he says, but what he does.

18. Name someone in Australian public life who deserves a promotion.
Tony Abbott from Ironman to Mr Universe. He can compete with Arnie and the Hulk by clean-and-jerking Pope Benedict.

19. In 10 words or less, summarise your food philosophy.
Healthy hippie stuff and indulgent vegan cupcakes.

20. What question should we ask our next interviewee?
What’s your best dad joke so I can tell my mum?

BONUS QUESTION from our last interviewee:
What compulsory subject would you like to see introduced to Australian primary schools?
Local Indigenous language classes.

Textaqueen’s exhibition "Social Engagement" is on at Sullivan+Strumpf gallery in Sydney till 16 May.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.