As Marilyn mania hits Australia, Philippa Hawker explores ‘the Monroe we didn’t know’ in an article for the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Bendigo Art Gallery has a major exhibition opening in March that is devoted to her. And its discoveries come not as sweeping revelations or reversals, but in the surprise of small details and unexpected insights.
There are, as you would expect, images and film clips, musical numbers, newsreel footage, archival material, posters and publicity items. There are costumes from her movies, striking, spectacular garments that have become familiar in their own right. There are also pieces from her personal wardrobe, garments that represented another facet of the self she wished to project.
There are documents and items from the archives of Fox, the studio she is most closely associated with. There are snapshots and photos from her childhood. And there are small, everyday objects, everything from books to gossip magazines to mascara wands.
‘For me, I suppose, there is a kind of truth in these items,’ says exhibition curator Tansy Curtin. ‘When there are so many stories and falsehoods around her, what’s the truth you can glean from them?’
You won’t find material that deals with the many conspiracy theories about the nature of Monroe’s death. This isn’t something that Curtin is interested in, and many Monroe collectors won’t lend items to shows that delve into this angle.”