Ballarat's had bushfire smoke in the air for a week and there was a Nazi flag flying in far-flung western Victoria yesterday - we're living in interesting times.
Sitting on star of the Eureka flag paved in the middle of Ballarat, in Alfred Deakin Place - named for a prime minister and Ballarat MP who campaigned for the White Australia policy - and within view of historic Trades Hall, sits a 250kg sculpture of the current president of the United States.
This is the first time the artwork, Monument #32: Helter Shelter, has been displayed in Victoria, and the Art Gallery of Ballarat leapt at the chance to exhibit it.
Gallery director Louise Tegart said the sculpture had nothing to do with the City of Ballarat council, and instead was funded by private donations.
While public artworks are often vulnerable to damage from the public, she also said it would be under surveillance from CCTV cameras in the square.
"It's the site of community protest and ideas, a lot of marches and things start from Alfred Deakin Place, so it seems appropriate to have a work of this nature in this space," she said.
"I would encourage people to come down and have a look at the artwork, and not just read a headline and react, think about what the artist is saying and make up their own mind."
The artist, Callum Morton, has a reputation for playing with the idea of monuments.
He said he took inspiration from protests across the world, especially effigies of political figures made by communities.
"It's fast, made quickly, it's responding, it's urgent, not necessarily sophisticated in its thinking," he said.
"The things I look at, like paper mache, sculptures at protests, those things are done fast.
"This figure promotes reactions, but the idea of sitting inside and playing with an idea, it's the kind of reaction you want the most, not the violent one."
People can sit inside the head, which is empty except for a bench and flames.
It's also missing its mouth.
"I've always been interested in theme parks, the theme park has a sort of quality of render, a focus, a visual language that I'm particularly interested it, that's immediate," he said.
"It doesn't require reflection, it's surface."
A professor of fine art at Monash University, Mr Morton's works have been exhibited across the world, including at the Venice Biennale, and he is also known for the famous Hotel sculpture on Eastlink.
"I think the work is unambiguous and my politic is fairly clear on the surface of the work," Mr Morton said.
"Every time it goes out (on public exhibition), it has a different reading, even though it's simply two skins, it's this alt-right, hardcore conservative figure, and now we're living in the context of bushfires and the smoke haze and the very real apocalyptic sense of doom about our daily lives.
"It has a more sinister register, I think, and I'm glad - the context is interesting."
The sculpture will be on display until April 5.
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