RICHARD BELL: THE APPROACH
We will not be put in darkies corner.
The incursion in the vestibule of the Art Gallery of South Australia has been inspired by one of the most iconic images of the twentieth century – an image that depicts the medal winners on the victory dais following the result of the men’s 200-metre sprint at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
The gold and bronze medallists were the Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos respectively. The silver medallist was an Australian, Peter Norman. The three were to become lifelong friends.
The story preceding and following the ceremony is extraordinary. It begins with talk of an Olympic boycott by black American athletes in support of the American Civil Rights Movement. Smith and Carlos were expected to finish first and second, but Norman snatched the silver from Carlos a stride or two from the finish. After the race, Smith and Carlos asked Norman’s permission to perform their protest.