I am severely lacking in writing inspiration today.
Not that I don’t have a lot to write about. I have a very important subject to write about. It is just that the words wont come out in a satisfying way.
Australians will know what I want to write about when I mention the name “Bill Henson“.
Considered by many to be Australia’s foremost photographer, he is fascinated by twilight, the space between day and night, by adolescence, that space between child and adult. The moment of hesitancy. He has been exhibited around the world and his work is hung in some of the most prestigious galleries.
Online, some of his work is visible and much more can be seen on the net – just google the name and then click on “Images”.
Now to the the subject, the controversy. The best way to follow the developments is through a series of news items.
It began five days ago when police raided a Sydney art gallery. Within hours, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd weighed into the debate and the police began questioning the photographer. Betty Churcher, head of Australia’s National Art Gallery gave her opinion while some of the subjects themselves spoke out. The controversy widened to another gallery while more than 40 of Australia’s leading writers and artists supported Henson. Today the police have rejected the art world’s outcry, while two prominent politicians have supported the photographer.
In another report today, Louise Adler, the head of Melbourne University Publishing, one of 44 prominent figures who have signed an open letter urging Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to rethink his condemnation of the photos as “absolutely revolting”, calls the controversy a ‘beat-up’.
“I don’t believe that paedophiles and pornographers are going to rush to Roslyn Oxley’s gallery to find Bill Henson’s work for stimulation,” she said. “The question is, is it a private matter, one of taste or is it that the community has to come down and make a judgement?
“Do we need to be chaperoned by the state on these questions?” she asked.
I don’t believe we do. Although I know a lot of people will disagree with me.
Everyone’s comments are welcome, although I do reserve the right to adjust the wording, but not the intent of some comments, where those comments may be viewed as offensive by some readers of the archive.
So that truly informed debate can take place, the image which originally sparked this controversy is over the jump.
The last in this series, I want to leave Cottesloe on a positive note.
So here are some of the works I enjoyed.
Firstly a work in stone which, to me, has everything I look for in a sculpture. It has tension and tells a story. This is something I can identify with.
Although, at $46,000 I think I will let someone else have it.
This next I like in spite of itself. The large curve, striving for “up-ed-ness”.
Then I found it was a seed which had washed ashore and was a “New Beginning”.
So while I went, “Hmm!” and passed by, I remained enamoured of the shape.
Finally something which is so crass that it has an innate beauty. I cannot resist liking this installation.
Steel, fibreglass, styrene and paint. Along with a comment about the state of the world.
“The words compassion and dignity are totally missing from international dialogue in 2008. This holds true of almost all world leaders, religions and political persuasions.”
The final touch is the triple pun in its title.
“Peas on Earth”
As always it is best to allow nature to have the final word.
As I left the groyne where the above installation was placed, I found, hidden away in the limestone cliffs which face the beach, the following, which may or may not be a valid comment on the works of Homo Sap.
Forty years, or more, ago a European folk singing duo named Nina and Frederick complained of the regimentation of Homo Suburbanii in a song called “Little Boxes”.
Since then there have been so many similar complaints the whole situation has become a cliche.
So there was no surprise when I saw this;
With its vaguely Hebraic or Arabic scriptal overtones, this “arch” is “an abstracted figurative [is this a redundancy?] work with positive and negative space and symbolic forms.”
I think it was the creator who was abstracted. I keep attempting to find the humanity in this. I can’t even find the humour! Not even in the $49,000 price tag.
Finally for today is this rather strange invention; the “pot wagon”.
How you can be true to the material when that material is copper, resin with fibreglass and stainless steel is a question I would prefer to remain unanswered.
At $35,000 surely it deserves a better collection of words than, “I would like to carry the beautiful sky to your mind.”
THAT sort of “pot”!
Tomorrow I post some works I found interesting.
I always like to end on a positive note.
The modern definition of good sculpture seems to rely on the infinitely meaningless word “interaction”.
I’m afraid my definition of interaction does not include standing, looking at an object and scratching my head trying to work out just what was going through the
conman artist’s brain as he created whatever-the-hell-it-is.
Today, as promised, I am highlighting not one, but two of the artworks which allowed me, and others, to relate to and “interact” with in a “meaningful” way.
[AAAgghhhhh - I've been infected by art-speak]
Firstly there is the deceptively simple “sticks” which is still overpriced at $3,300 despite the artistic twattishness of its description; This ephemeral sculpture endeavours to work harmoniously with Mother Nature to allow the soul of the stick materials and the site to “speak”.
At least it allowed a space to play for the young and the young at heart. I enjoyed seeing them enjoy themselves.
Completely different is “Through the Looking Glass”.
Reminding me of those security windows in stores which have narrow viewing slats from the manager’s side yet appear to be a mirror from the
potential thief’s customer’s side.
At least a – what is the user of a sculture? A customer, a viewer, a client? – can have fun here, finding the mirror segment which is reflecting some of “self”. I found my jeans-encased legs high on the left hand side. I liked the way you could see through it to the sea and even to a boat beyond.
So there were parts of this exhibition which I enjoyed.
The bad news is that tomorrow you get some more of the pretentious, the clumsy and the plain bad!
Here are some more of what depressed me so much at this exhibition.
For $20,000 some deluded CEO can purchase this representation of, I think, the inside workings of an internal combustion engine.
Or, should he be in a mood to disturb his customers, he could choose to spend $39,000 of the shareholder’s dosh on this strangely arachnipodal aluminium piece.
Tomorrow I will have something positive from this art show. There were good parts, just like the curate’s egg. Unfortunately the bad bits left a nasty taste in the mouth!