Rona Green
Betwixt and between

A chartered longboat drifts into the heart of Sarawak, its alien cargo bears malaria, hepatitis, jungle-rot and dandruff. Deeper and deeper… no longer can they hear 488 kindergartens being closed down due to an outbreak of the unfortunately named Coxsackie virus A16.

After the pain subsides, the swelling and infection dissipates, the mark of the head-hunter, a tribal stylisation of a frog hides, waiting patiently amongst the owner’s defining spots. It takes up permanent residence with a valiant feeling that it was earned. A well advertised transethno dandruff treatment sweeps the Pacific putting end to misery.

A chartered taxi to the urban tattoo parlour is made possible by the conglomeration of cultural introductions. Hepatitis A-Z prevails while malaria and jungle-rot give way to bird-flu and the killer bees that authorities claim to have been Africanised. Despite numerous advertisements, dandruff still flirts precariously with a wooden bead cushion. Such perils make the urban tattoo as legitimate as its tribal counterpart, for it too is earned. Proud images of adornment are sent back into the heart of Sarawak where poor dial-up connection awaits.

These timeless ensembles span thousands of years in their eclectic origins. Without pretence, a shark’s tooth necklace hangs gracefully from the neck of the scarified dingo in a blue Bond’s singlet. Again with a sense of achievement, the right to adorn the blue singlet is duly earned by the need to wear it. Although the popularity of this utilitarian uniform wavers in the city, it’s here to stay in the outback where hairdressers are known as shearers.

Bonding of culture persists between the native and the introduced. Fur and feathers are both welcomed with biased equality where tolerance is paramount. But those magpies are everywhere… it is safe? How can one be sure? An unsatisfied rooster of minority grouping looking for introduction abandons the world of dial-up to surf broader waves. Result exceeds expectation and the search for chicks returns cats and dogs sporting neotribal Iban tattoos.

Don’t they look wonderful, the new century’s rollout of Borneoids.

Aaron McLoughlin

Rona Green
Goo Goo Man
2006, linocut & watercolour
56 x 38 cm, edition 23

Rona Green
2007, linocut & watercolour
38 x 28 cm, edition 13