From 1970 to 1973, NSW police issued more than forty summonses and made several arrests over the contents of the UNSW student newspaper THARUNKA, and its successor underground papers THOR and THORUNKA. The charges alleged obscenity and indecency. Wendy Bacon and John Cox between them served three weeks in prison during two trials. The publications drew participation and support from students, Sydney libertarians, radical activists, writers, lawyers and others as they waged a relentless campaign against the authorities.

The campaign contested the idea of obscenity and the legitimacy of the legal system itself. The newspapers campaigned on the war in Vietnam, Aboriginal land rights, women’s and gay liberation, and the violence of the criminal justice system. By 1973 the censorship regime in Australia was broken. Nearly all the charges were dropped.

The exhibition presents original copies of the publications and documents from the campaign, and is curated by Wendy Bacon and Chris Nash. It brings together the original editorial team of Wendy Bacon, Val Hodgson and Allan Rees with other collaborators in a series of open forums.

THARUNKA/THOR/THORUNKA were wary of special pleading for literary merit. However, the exhibition and a forum draw connections between what was happening in Sydney and a landmark 1971 controversy in New York involving the artist Hans Haacke over journalism as art / art as journalism.


The exhibition launch is on April 12 from 6 -8 pm at 107 Projects at 107 Redfern St. Redfern. For those who use Facebook, here is the event

(If you accept on Facebook, we have an estimate of numbers. If you don't use Facebook, come anyway. )

Forums and Talks

There will be a series of forums and talks exploring the publications and their significance, the events surrounding them and the social and political context of the times. Here is the program

If you would like to know more about the exhibition or to contact the curators, email or ring/text 0409403774

If you know anyone who was part of these events, please let them know about the exhibition.