Sedition and book-burning ahead
Artlink has had the fun of having one of its issues banned from sale in the USA due to the appalling nudity of the young sleeping adolescent on the cover. Now we are busy digging a hole to bury our stock of the March 2003 issue titled Fallout: War, Terror, Refugees in case someone from the local copshop decides it could be thought to incite terrorism. Some of the artists involved in anti-war movements in Australia have already been subject to police interference and removal of their work from public places. The anti-terrorism bill which is going through parliament at the time of writing could, with the help of Murphy's Law and the lack of art theory courses at the Police Academy, see artists and writers charged with crimes of sedition carrying hefty jail terms. The bill proposes to make it an offence, punishable by seven years' imprisonment, for 'any person' who 'urges another person to engage in conduct to assist, by any means whatever, an organisation or country ... engaged in armed hostilities against the Australian Defence Force'. Which could take the form of a demonstration, performance art, billboard screening on a railway station, or an exhibition. What great fun we're going to have now. NAVA has taken a strong stand on this, urging people to contact their parliamentary representatives to excise the sedition sections from the anti-terrorism bill for further discussion.
Adam and Eve walking with dinosaurs
Defending Darwin's theory of evolution might seem a bit passe in the 21st Century, but these are Interesting Times. A new work by one of the artists in the recent exhibition of the same name at Sydney's MCA, gives sound and vision to just how Interesting the Times really are. Deborah Kelly's piece takes the form of a 'movie preview' which was screened at 10-minute intervals on 42 railway station billboards in Sydney during November announcing that God will be coming soon to a series of places near you such as immigration centre, family planning clinic, job network –and most significantly perhaps a school curriculum. (see bewareofthegod.com) We have witnessed the unthinkable -– that the Federal Education Minister Dr Brendan Nelson has raised no objection to the teaching of 'Intelligent Design' in our schools as an alternative to Darwin's explanation of how life on earth evolved.
Size is important
Is your snapper longer than 35cm? the Australian Nature Conservation Council of NSW is running The Make Mine 35cm Snapper Plate Design Competition – open to all TAFE and University ceramics students for a dinner plate designed to indicate the sustainable size of the catch. The design will be commercially prototyped. Prizes: dinner for two courtesy of Longrain, a double pass to the Sydney Seafood School class of choice and a subscription to Ceramics Art and Perception. Closing date 1 Feb 2006. Ph Mithra Cox 0425 351 844 www.nccnsw.org.au/snapperplate.
Funding: back to the future? The Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, (born in 1975, deceased some time in the eighties, and reborn as the Visual Arts/Craft Board) was reincarnated in October. This reversion was necessary because of the widening of the Board's umbrella to include the business of the New Media Board which was dissolved during this year's radical restructure. Where does that leave craft which started out with its own board, then joined visual arts as an equal partner and now is subsumed as one of the pack of various media? According to Kevin Murray, director of Craft Victoria: 'The resurgence of the handmade can be found not just in craft, but in drawing, photography, design and new media. We might hope for greater profile for craft in future major visual arts initiatives. Craft is the thing itself rather than a representation. This physical undercurrent may lead to creative tension within the VAB. Perhaps the screen-based arts might find new forms of embodiment?'
Other even more significant fallout from the restructure was the dissolution of the Community Cultural Development Board, now in an interim stage with a 'Community Partnerships Committee' to take care of its business. Those who saw this as sleight of hand, and vehemently said so, are having their misgivings confirmed by the Coalition appointment in September of Timothy O'Loughlin both to Chair this Committee and to sit on the Australia Council itself as the 'community representative'. Tim O'Loughlin is well known to South Australians as the supremely managerial ex-CEO of Arts SA. His track record – management positions with the resources company Santos and on boards of State Opera and like bodies – would appear to be diametrically at odds with the spirit and rationale of working at grassroots level. Set up in response to the widespread indignation of the CCD sector, a Community Partnerships Scoping Study is now ramping up with the appointment of Jane Jose as Chair (currently trading as Jane Jose Business Development and Communication and on the Board of the Australian String Quartet in Adelaide). She will be working with a strong national reference group of practitioners chaired by Anne Dunn, a former Chair of the CCDB.
2006 diary dates
" Adelaide is full of the buzz of what looks like being a high-powered Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts 2006. As well as a raft of world premieres on stage, there is a new and edgy feel to the visual arts programming, with much screen-based work. Already sold out is David Byrne's performance of I _ Powerpoint. Together with German artist/musician Carsten Nicolai, Byrne stars in Artists' Week at Elder Hall 4 – 8 March. The Biennial of Australian Art, curated by Linda Michaels, is titled 21st Century Modern, and there is a program of six art videos seen at the Venice Biennale. A portrait projection event shows portraits of ordinary people in New York and Adelaide projected onto huge building surfaces in both places. The art of the Pintupi people is on at Tandanya, robots at the Experimental Art Foundation, installations and videos from France, Japan and Spain at Greenaway Art Gallery. Free outdoor events include huge projections by Zhang Ga of portraits transmitted from Adelaide to New York and vice versa, and opening weekend spectacular from Italy with performers and ethereal images floating and spinning above the Plaza.
" The Biennale of Sydney is starting to take shape. Its curator Dr Charles Merewether has been working with several of the participating artists on their visits and advance residencies in Sydney over the past few months. Liisa Roberts artist and filmmaker from Helsinki, has been in residence at Petersham Town Hall, courtesy of Marrickville Council, completing her project for the Biennale. Mexican-Canadian-global nomad Rafael Lozano-Hemmer visited Sydney in September. He makes large-scale interventions in public spaces using robotics, real-time computer graphics, film projections, positional sound and ultrasonic sensors to engage the public with each other and their environment. www.fundacion.telefonica.com/at/rlh/eprlh.html. Fiona Tan, Indonesian-Dutch artist and at 39 a veteran of five international biennales (see Artlink Biennale Map Vol 25#3 Sept 2005 p.35) arrived in October to work on her project for Sydney. She is celebrated for film and video installations which explore the nature of archives and the truth claims of ethnography. The Biennale opens on 8 June 2006. Full details will be on www.biennaleofsydney.com.au by mid December.
" Empire Games, Next Wave Festival's offering for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and Regional Victoria is about new empires and new games, politics and play. From The Suitcase Royale to a village of shipping containers at Docklands and the world's most creative call centre, 600 artists across 70 different projects including performance, visual and media arts. 15 March – 2 April 2006. www.nextwave.org.au.
Moving towards QGMA
A taste of what the new Queensland Gallery of Modern Art will have on offer when it opens at the end of 2006 was seen in the inauguration of the Australian Cinematheque in November with its determinedly populist first 10-day film series Kiss of the Beast. The theme of the misunderstood apeman/beast/monster was all the rage in the USA in the early 1930s, with a Tarzan/Jane revival in the 1950s. This homage to Hollywood's exploitation of the willing suspension of disbelief is expounded upon in the accompanying exhibition on the origins and themes of the King Kong story. Queensland Art Gallery to 22 January.
Australian art overseas
" Lontano Blu
" Memory as Landscape an exhibition featuring works of Utopia artists, Gloria and Kathleen Petyarr, Poly, Kathleen and Angeline Ngal Greenie Purvis Petyarr will be held at October Gallery in Bloomsbury, London (in association with Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne) 8 December 2005 – 28 January 2006. www.octobergallery.co.uk.
" Asian Traffic, an exhibition of Asian-Australian artists and others, curated by the Asia-Australia Centre in Sydney, continues its tour of China, seen in Beijing in August and at the Zendai Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai in October, moving on to Shenzhen and Hong Kong in early 2006. www.4a.com au.
New Constellations: Art, Science and Society is an international conference charting the ways in which art and science are gravitating towards one another within contemporary culture and how the worldwide trend towards interdisciplinary engagement is changing practices and the social implications of this. Key speakers are Ruzena Bajcsy (University of California), Elizabeth Grosz (University of New Jersey), Steve Kurtz (Critical Art Ensemble) and Roger Malina, (Leonardo magazine). 17 – 19 March 2006, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, details at www.mca.com.au.
" The book of the conference Knowledge+Dialogue+Exchange: remapping cultural globalisms from the South convened in Australia in 2004 for the 9th General Meeting of Res Artis is now out. Edited by Nicolas Tsoutas and published by Artspace Visual Arts Centre in Sydney, with contributions by Lu Jie (China), Ien Ang (Aust), Lee Weng Choy (Singapore), Ghassan Hage (Aust), Manray Hsu (Taiwan), Nikos Papastergiadis & Scott McQuire (Aust), Ana Labrador (The Philippines) and Marcia Langton (Aust) rrp $22 (inc GST)ph 02 9368 1899, firstname.lastname@example.org.
" The new $10 million Campbelltown Arts Centre opened on 30 June, with three-day celebratory performances and the launch of the exhibition C'town bling. Formerly a regional gallery, the Centre is now a powerhouse of varied activity. It connects high quality visual arts, performance, music, literature, dance and new media with the culturally diverse communities of Campbelltown and South-west Sydney. Cnr Camden and Appin Rds, Campbelltown. Open daily 10am - 4pm, free entry, 02 4645 4100.
" Hawkesbury Regional Gallery is a brand new facility which opened on 24 June in the new Deerubbin Centre in Windsor, a historic region now home to a great influx of new residents. This Centre, which also includes the main Library of the shire, aims to work closely with local communities of this booming region in the north western suburbs of Sydney. It builds on the work of the local Museum which records the histories both of the traditional owners (the Boorerboorongal Clan of the Darug Tribe) and settler cultures. The inaugural exhibition, Agri/culture: Re-creating the Living Landscape, was the result of a community curatorium comprising residents of Hawkesbury and neighbouring towns in Blacktown, Baulkham Hills and Penrith. The gallery, managed by Ingrid Hoffman with curator Kathleen Von Witt, occupies the first floor of the Centre and has 120 running metres of hanging space as well as rooms for workshops and meetings, a very pleasant café, extensive landscaping and new works of public art. 300 George St, Windsor. Ph 02 4560 4441 Monday to Friday 10am - 4pm (closed Tuesdays) Sat, Sun 10am - 3pm. www.hawkesbury.nsw.gov.au.
" After 17 years at the Museum, Grace Cochrane has left her position as Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney to work independently in the field.
" Sarah Miller, superactive Director of Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, is leaving the job in March 06 to discover life after PICA. She was responsible for building PICA over the past 12 years into the powerful but always edgy multi-arts entity it is today.
" Douglas Gautier, previously Director of the Hong Kong Arts Festival, is welcomed as the new CEO of the Adelaide Festival Centre. The genial expat South Australian has had an impressive range of experience in music and broadcasting at the BBC, ABC and Radio Television Hong Kong, as well as State Theatre companies and is on the Board of SA Tourism Commission.
" Alexie Glass is the new Director of Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces in Melbourne.
" Caitlin Newton-Broad is a new Associate Director at Performance Space in Sydney.
" Brian Butler, a gallerist and publisher from Los Angeles, is the new Director of Artspace in Auckland.
" Amanda McDonald Crowley, freelance new media facilitator and curator, has been appointed Director of Eyebeam, an arts and technology centre in New York City.
" Echo, seven life-size female figures clad in black chadors by Gold Coast artist Frédéric Berjot won the $10,000 prize at this year's Thursday Plantation East Coast Sculpture Show, judged by Bert Flugelman. Berjot says his urban French upbringing brought him close to Muslim communities prompting him to make a work challenging 'them-and-us' attitudes in Australia. Near Ballina, NSW until the end of January. Ph (02) 6686 7273.
" Jo Darbyshire won the $15,000 BankWest Contemporary Art Prize 2005 for her oil painting, titled Night Coral.
" Ella Dreyfus won the inaugural $10,000 Olive Cotton Award for Photographic Portraiture at the Tweed River Art Gallery, which will acquire the works for its collection. Her black and white portrait The Lads: Nadz and Dax is part of her recent exhibition Under Twelves at Groundfloor Gallery, Balmain.
" The British Council's innovative scheme Realise Your Dream has offered six 18 – 26 year-old creators a package of travel to the UK and professional mentoring in their chosen creative industry valued at $10,000. They are James Brown, NSW–filmmaker and television director, Amanda Dunne, QLD art director, Coady Green, VIC pianist, Ross Langdon, NSW architect and Shaun Yee, VIC moving image designer plus Sally Blenheim, Melbourne, VIC installation artist was winner of the Mordant Visual Arts Award.
" Wade Owen from Queensland won the 2005 Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship. He gets $25,000 and a 3-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, administered by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
" Jude Rae from the ACT won this year's $18,000 Portia Geach Memorial Award, open to women painters, with a portrait entitled Large Interior (Micky Allan).
" The $10,000 Ranamok Glass Prize 2005 has been awarded to Joanna Bone in Queensland, for her entry Ominous Fruit.
" In the Sydney Life Photography Prize Tim Barker won $5,000 for his photograph of an Aboriginal man taken in Taylor Square in inner city Darlinghurst, titled Donald. The works of the 25 finalists were enlarged to bedsheet size and hung in Hyde Park in October.
" Leyla Stevens (Syd) wins the new Centre for Contemporary Photography /Colour Factory Award which helps an emerging photographic artist in the first five years of their practice with technical and print services and an exhibition in CCP's galleries in Fitzroy.
" Jumaadi (Sydney) won the inaugural $5,000 SODA Gallery Small Painting Prize with Nine Lives. The organisers want to offer an alternative to everything being oversized these days.
" The 2005 Helen Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship was won by Ms & Mr, collaborative artists Richard and Stephanie nova Milne, for The Woman Who Mistook Her Husband For Art, a mixed media projection installation. The $40,000 award is for study at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam.
" Country Energy Art Prize for Landscape Painting of $35,000 is open to NSW artists in regional areas. It was won this year by mid-north coast artist-architect Fiona Bennell with Silent Protest depicting a herd of cattle.
" The inaugural acquisitive Artworkers Award, which will form the basis of a new collection of contemporary art from Queensland, was won by Grant Stevens for his digital video work titled Like Two Ships.
" Lisa Roet won the biennial $100,000 McClelland Sculpture Award funded by Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, with a giant 3m high fibreglass bust White Ape.
A remarkable collection of 47 Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese calligraphic scrolls put together over four decades has been given to the Art Gallery of NSW by Dr James Hayes who served in the Hong Kong government 20 years ago. The poetic brushwork, which augments the Gallery's considerable Asian Art Collection, was composed by scholar-officials, or scholar-mandarins, many of whom were members of the Hanlin Academy in Imperial China and notable calligraphers, painters, poets and philosophers.