Salvado de qué

Archie Moore, Salvado de qué, 2019, acrylic on polyester, stainless steel, 456.00 x 228.00 cm, TCG22705
(photo: Nick de Lorenzo)

Moore’s large flag bears the word "Salvado" which is "saved" in Spanish but also a surname of a Benedictine monk Rosendo Salvado, who in 1847 had founded the New Norcia mission, 132 kilometres north of Perth. He also brought two Yued Noongar Aboriginal boys, John Baptist Dirimera and Francis Xavier Conci to Rome in 1849. Conci died soon after his arrival in Rome on October 1853 - he lies buried somewhere outside the front of the basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls.- and John died soon after his return home in 1855. Three more boys who were subsequently despatched to Europe also died, as did all the young Aboriginal girls sent to the Mercy Convent in Perth. Another boy from New Norcia, Upumera, had died in early 1848 on the voyage to Europe with Salvado's Catalan colleague, Jose Serra.

The taking of these two boys - who it has been written begged Salvado to take them with him - is akin to the "Stolen Generations" of removing children from their families, which is what happened at New Norcia. Both Salvado and his successor, Abbot Fulgencio Torres, discouraged parental contact with children in the boys' and girls' orphanages and it is doubtful that Salvado would have been granted permission for this trip by Dirimera and Conci's parents.

The removal of the blue base of the flag to white is to remove the symbolic meaning of "Vigilance, Truth and Loyalty, Perseverance & Justice". Also the "whitewashing" of Australian history. The translation of Salvado as 'saved' refers to the idea that Aboriginal people needed saving by a white saviour and Salvado's presentation to the courts of Europe as a showcase of the successful evangelising of "native" children, in order to raise funds for the struggling mission of New Norcia. And of course the irony of their tragic deaths as a result of this salvation.

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