Turning Chaos into Cash?
The federal Dept of Communication and the Arts recently held a seminar on copyright in the digital transmission arena (which for practical purposes means the internet) as it moves towards legislation to protect the interests of copyright owners in this area. As if the logistical problem of policing the internet were not enough, there is a battle royal brewing between the larger cultural institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia and Vi$copy over the desire of the former to place images of large numbers of their holdings on line (thus earning brownie points with the government for "audience development and access") and the determination of the latter to ensure that reasonable fees are paid for the use of artists' works in this manner.
The format of the too heavily packed day-long seminar in which the top end of town dominated the discussion (Brian Kennedy Director of the NGA, with very limited experience of the digital world, was keynote speaker) with very little time allowed for artist representatives to present their case, appeared to favour the interests of the larger cultural institutions which are running with what seems a strangely schizophrenic desire to be able to put anything from their collection up on their site with all the risks that implies, at no cost to them, while anything that they themselves have generated must carry high-end encryption. It is essential now that the stakeholders meet again to discuss where the areas of disagreement are between copyright holders and the institutions to try to find a fair solution to what is a complex but not insoluble problem.
GST "disastrous" for arts
The Australian Labor Party have released their Arts Policy in advance of all their other policies because they regard it has having a crucial role to play in Australians defining themselves, which could be an important issue in this election. They have pledged to increase funds to the Australia Council and restore the arms length principle. They will support copyright fees for artists through Vi$copy and push for amendments to moral rights legislation without the self-defeating waiver clause which the Coalition is promoting. They will support a new scheme of regional studios for artists on the model of the international ones, as well as a network of regional conservators and a label of authenticity for indigenous arts. Other beneficiaries of substantially increased funding will be Artbank, the AFC, other film and television organisations and the ABC. They maintain that a GST would be "disastrous" for most small arts organisations.
Artists on the Payroll at last
In a landmark decision in July the government passed the amendment to the Copyright Act for which visual artists through their agencies NAVA and Vi$copy have been lobbying for years. Now the visual images on a page of photocopied text will be payable rather than exempt from fees, which means that when copyright fees are collected from photocopying, artists will at last join writers as income earners. A system is being devised which will split the per page fee between the text and the images. The fees for images will be paid to artists by Vi$copy, the fees for text will continue to be paid to writers by CAL. Fees that will be collected from photocopying to visual artists per annum are estimated at over a million dollars. The collecting scheme will be put into effect in the new year.
Just in Time
Just before losing government at the Queensland election in June the then Arts Minister Joan Sheldon announced the long-awaited percent for art scheme whereby all major state govt capital works projects will provide up to 2% for works of art & design to be commissioned.
SA Living Artists Week
How often is contemporary art (or any art for that matter) advertised on television or commercial radio? The answer is almost never, so the introduction of a range of snippets from 30-second promos plugging the idea that art is made by living people to 2 minute artist-at-work pieces inserted between programmes in SA was bound to have an impact. Paul Greenaway of Greenaway Art Gallery reports that the inaugural SALA Week has boosted attendances and sales at the 51 galleries in Adelaide who were part of the smart marketing plan. Next July SALA Week will have to fit in another 35 venues who are asking to be included and art trails will be organised to entice those new to visiting art galleries to take the plunge.
New model old rhetoric
ARX (Artists Regional Exchange) has devised a new model. 15 selected artists, five each from Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia, will meet and work collaboratively for three weeks at a time in all three countries (the Australian session will be in Perth) over a period of 15 months. This presumably will help to deliver one of the desired outcomes that artists should act as ambassadors for their country having "the chance to change preconceived images and facilitate greater understanding between Australia and Asia". This particular rhetoric one had thought was relegated to past eras and that perhaps doing the work could be regarded as an end in itself. But we live in interesting times.... Selected from Australia are Destiny Deacon, Jane Finlay, Joan Grounds, Erin Hefferon and Lucas Ihlein; from Singapore Jeremy Hiah, Khiew Huey Chian, Jason Lim, John Low and Suzann Victor; from Hong Kong Anthony Leung, Zunzi Wong Ki Kwan, Stephen Pang, Edward Lam, and Cedric Chan Ho Fung.
International art in Melbourne
Press release for next May-June's inaugural Melbourne International Biennial reads " .. seeks to create an international arts project that will place Melbourne and its contemporary visual artists in context with other major contemporary art events, such as Germany's Documenta, the Venice Biennale and the Indian Triennial." Melbourne and its contemporary visual artists ? I don't remember its antecedents in Victoria - the Australian Sculpture Triennial (in Mildura and then in Melbourne) focusing particularly on Melbourne artists. Would it not be like Documenta having a particular brief for artists from Kassel? Let's hope this is just careless copywriting. Another odd piece of jingoism which sits awkwardly with modern styles of international curating is the emphasis on national boundaries. Countries will be offered "Pavilions" (read local galleries) to mount commissioned work of their own choice. "The Biennal is inviting specific countries, through their cultural offices and/or consulates to make use of this ready-made opportunity to showcase a significant curatorial/artist's project in one of these key spaces." There will be national flags and "consular/gallery social functions". This sounds structurally unpromising, but there may be ways found to subvert what can be a curatorial straitjacket.
The main exhibition however, Signs of Life comprises the work of 70 artists selected by Artistic Director Juliana Engberg during her travels on four continents. It will "occupy more than 7,000 square metres of space within the CBD" taking advantage of public transport. This contained CBD approach is new for Melbourne and is going to be a very interesting experiment which has every chance of working well. The MIB is an initiative of the enterprising City of Melbourne in partnership with Arts Victoria and the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne.
International Art in Sydney
The 11th Biennale of Sydney titled Every Day is spread across between many everyday sites, like taxis, as well as the more expected Art Gallery of NSW. The MCA is hosting the works of 24 artists from fifteen countries some of which are interactive installations eg a room full of fog; as an alternative you can lie down and stick your head outside a third floor window and look at the sky; or you can 'walk through' a computer screen like Alice. At Pier 2/3 at Walsh Bay there is karaoke, and you can get a ferry to Goat Island for sound installation. Every day from 18 Sept - 8 November. Check out <www.biennaleofsydney.com.au> for live coverage.
Wheeling and Dealing
Asia and Australasia is the catchment for Melbourne's great Art Fair ACAF6 which opens on 1 October and each year attracts more members of the public to its wealth of new art this year brought to Melbourne by a record 52 galleries from Australia, Japan, Korea, Singapore and New Zealand. Galleries must pass the scrutiny of the Australian Commercial Galleries' Association in order to participate. New this time are Goddard de Fiddes from Perth, Gitte Weise Gallery from Sydney and Stephen McLaughlan Gallery from Melbourne whose artists will form a new Statements Section. Neil Taylor has been commissioned to make this year's special installation which uses the spring bases of several hundred mattresses (see picture). ACAF brings international collectors to the Fair who are plied with Melbourne food and wine and taken on tours of cultural institutions. 1 - 4 October Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton.
A New Home for Craft
A long chapter in the history of the promotion of Australian craft was completed when the new Object Galleries opened in August at the Customs House on Circular Quay Sydney, a space which is more than just a new home for the Centre for Contemporary Craft but the largest and most splendidly located temporary exhibition space for contemporary craft in Australia. Funding of up to $460,000 over 3 years has been allocated by the Australia Council to establish the gallery before the Olympics. This is in addition to a triennial grant to the Centre of $300,000 for the program. It celebrates with three major exhibitions: a collection of 70 emerging practitioners, Below the Waterline by Nicole Ellis, an installation that looks at water sites of historical relevance to Australian colonial history, and Stone a solo show of the work of Robert Johnson.
Exhibitions to watch
" portraits are people pictures is the first of a new series of exhibitions designed for children which includes interactive displays allowing them to explore the techniques of portrait painting. It is sponsored by the childrens clothing company Pepito. Queensland Art Gallery until 4 October.
" Greek Australians: In Their Own Image is a view of Greek Australians which hopes to broaden our knowledge of many aspects of their histories. It comprises 200 historical and contemporary photographs and social histories curated by Effy Alexakis and Leonard Janiszewski. State Library of NSW 14 Sept - 10 January
" Raiki Wara: Long Cloth from Aboriginal Australia and the Torres Strait is a major exhibition of textiles including batik work from Central Australia as well as from Kintore, Daly River and other centres and printed textiles from Northern Australia including Melville and Bathurst Islands. Curated by the National Gallery of Victoria it is a touring show, starting at NGV 4 Sept - 19 Oct, then to state galleries in Darwin, Cairns, Sydney and Adelaide in 1999.
" Sol LeWitt - Wall Pieces, John Kaldor Project is a series of paintings done direct on the walls of the Museum of Contemporary Art by artisans following the artist's plans and directions. Until 29 November.
1998 Seppelt Awards is awarded in three categories: visual art, object design and environmental design each worth $15,000. The nine shortlisted artists will be shown at the MCA 20 November - March 1999.
" 8th Gasworks Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition will show, in a new revamped form, the work of 27 artists as part of the visual arts program of the 1998 Melbourne Festival of Arts during daylight hours 17 October - 1 November.
" 3rd artists' books + multiples fair organised by Grahame Galleries + Editions is the only event of its kind in Australia. It aims to raise the profile of the artist book and now runs for 4 days 10 - 13 September at the School of Arts, 166 Ann St, Brisbane ph (07) 3369 3288 email@example.com
" Ken Unsworth Survey 1998 comprises 10 major installations, maquettes, drawings etc by this much respected artist, some already realised, some constructed for the first time. Art Gallery of NSW 2 October - 15 November.
The Australia Council's annual $25,000 Emeritus Award has gone to David Malangi, tribal artist of Ramingining in Arnhem Land. The Emeritus Medal has gone to Leon Paroissien who retired recently from the Directorship of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.
Asialink Residencies Available
Asialink is seeking artists with professional experience to participate in four month residencies in India, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and China during 1999. Grants of up to $12,000 are available to cover travel, accommodation and living expenses as well as initial contacts at host institutions. For application information contact Asialink on (03) 9349 1899 email firstname.lastname@example.org Closing date Friday 9 October.
Asialink also offers Arts Management Residencies which are available for visual arts personnel including curators, arts administrators, dealers, festival organisers etc. Closing date Friday 11 September
Need a lawyer?
The Arts Law Centre continues to provide invaluable service to its members around the country with free legal advice nights in various cities. If you have a problem you can call 1800 221 457 to make an appointment to see an experienced arts lawyer. In Melbourne the night is every second Monday and the venue has recently changed so call for details or for information on becoming a member of Arts Law.
Arts organisations may be partly instrumental in easing tattoo parlours, motor cycle shops and pinball parlours out of Adelaide's Hindley Street. The City Council, encouraged by Arts SA, and the more 'respectable' traders who have watched their previously busy strip reduce to a depressing series of vacancies over the past couple of years, have combined forces to try to fill those vacancies with artists and arts organisations who might be considering moving. The Council is being prevailed upon to use its various powers to change the mix of usage in the West End to get a nicer class of thing happening and already we have seen what their report calls "dramatic plantings of Washingtonia Palms at the Morphett St Hindley St intersection", no surer sign of an arts precinct about to happen. Never mind that the tall new palms are looking extremely miserable on the edge of the biggest expanse of traffic in the entire CBD. Notwithstanding nostalgia for the old dreadful hoon-filled Hindley Street, the area lends itself well to a mix of artists and students at the various new campuses around Light Square, walking distance to absolutely everywhere. The Adelaide Festival has started the ball rolling by moving in. Adelaide's Greenwich Village could be just around the corner. For information on the West End Arts Co-location Project contact Chris Hannaford at the Adelaide City Council.
Stelarc has been made Honorary Professor of Art and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburg.
Timothy Potts has quit the National Gallery of Victoria and will take up Directorship of the Kimball Art Museum at Forth Worth, Texas.
David Throsby resigned as Chair of NAVA on 25 July and is replaced by Michael Keighery.
Alasdair Foster, founding director of the (now defunct) Fotofeis in Scotland, is the new director of the Australian Centre of Photography, Sydney.
Christopher Chapman has left the Art Gallery of SA to take up the directorship of the EAF in Adelaide in August replacing Richard Grayson who will return to full time arts practice.
Linda Marie Walker is the new director of the CAC in Adelaide.
Margot Osborne is the new curator at the JamFactory Gallery replacing Janene Pellarin who resigned to pursue her own research projects.
Meryl Tankard will be leaving SA next year after the Board, backed by the Arts Minister Diana Laidlaw, terminated her contract. This all-time great blunder by an arts minister will go down in history as SA's dark day of the arts.
Anthony Galbraith: a retrospective is the catalogue of the exhibition at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery June/July. More like a book, it has essays by the curators Felicity Fenner, Annette Larkin and William Wright and by Sam Schoenbaum and others, and a very well illustrated catalogue raisonné. Tel (02) 9385 0726.
Going for Broke: Women's Participation in the Arts and Cultural Industries by Gillian Swanson and Patricia Wise, pub. by Australian Key Centre for Cultural and Media Policy. $22.00 fax (07) 3875 5511 email CMP@hum.gu.edu.au
Body Paint Portfolio is a new magazine from Brisbane; details on http://www.renforth.com.au if you want to see a woman turned into a chair and an architrave and other optical treats. Ph (07) 3349 1314
(For other books see book notes p. 75)
ORCA is the Online Resource for Community-based Arts. It has a search engine to find organisations on the data base, and is a way for artists etc to explore ideas and project concepts online through a bulletin board. <http://www.orca.on.net>
Most people loved our issue on public art in Australia, but there were a couple of glitches for which we apologise. The picture of Stephen Bowers and Darryl Pfitzner's work in Adelaide unaccountably disappeared from the page leaving only a caption, and a picture of Anne Ooms work from our review of the Adelaide Biennial appeared along with the Festival of Perth.