Sunday, August 29, 2010

Perth International Arts Festival presents David Suzuki

We all know that human-hating, doomsaying environmentalists have had more than their fair share of publicity lately. But it's amazing just where you'll still find them peddling their nihilistic views on life, the universe and everything.

I just did a search for "Perth arts" and found the website of the Perth International Arts Festival. Guess whose serious visage is taking pride of place on the site's main page?

You'd be forgiven for thinking it's an intense Polish conductor, or some hard living, hard drinking young playwright from Ireland. No, it's the celebrated Canadian doomsayer David Suzuki. While his appearance is later this year, before the festival proper, it does seem very strange.

This guy hates humanity, and thinks humans are no better than maggots. Certainly, he's entitled to his views, however toxic and wrong they may be. And if he can draw a crowd of tragic, gullible acolytes then good luck to him!

But to appear in association with an arts festival? Firstly, he's neither an artist nor an art critic - he's an environmental activist. Unless he's managed to master the cello in recent years then art ain't what he's going to be doing, or even discussing here.

And call me old fashioned, but isn't art one of the things that separates man from animals? When was the last time you saw a bilby with a paintbrush, eh? The practice of art - as well as its analysis - is inherently speciesist, isn't it? While it's pretty obvious that the bureaucrats who organize these shindigs aren't exactly the sharpest pencils in the box, you'd think that they might at least find his poisonously misanthropic views - not to mention his chosen area of expertise - inappropriate here. But no, they think the guy's a star. And a star for art, as well!

And what is this special event featuring Suzuki? From what I can tell it's just a lecture, followed by a book signing. Well, I do hope he is at least mindful of the context of his appearance and livens up his "intimate storytelling" with a bit of mime or juggling.

His featured presence shows just how pervasive the religion of deep green environmentalism is in our institutions now. If you are famous and green enough, you'll be asked to show up pretty much everywhere - regardless of context.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Well I'll be! Greens mocked on ABC

Here's something you don't see often: An ABC comedy sketch (which I think is from Yes We Canberra!) in which the Greens are actually the butt of the joke. I really can't recall seeing or hearing anything similar on the national broadcaster over the years (although there must have been the odd occasion when it occurred).

As we all know the ABC leans to the left - even though its broadcasters continue to deny the obvious. That's why it's heartening to see a sketch like this.

Several times I've had arguments with my arty, lefty friends about how biased the ABC is. Their stock response is that I'm wrong; it's fair and balanced. They invariably cite as evidence the fact that the ABC mocks the Labor Party as well as the Coalition. But then I point out that it's always from the left. The Greens, for example, are almost never mocked. That's when they accuse me of being reactionary and right-wing.

I say, yeah, fair point, I'm biased so why can't you admit that the ABC is too! That's usually when the conversation ends. If they did actually concede - or even consider - that point they might actually start to engage in some independent thought, rather than the mindless repetition of their ideological mantras. Of course that's just too scary for them, which is why they tend to just shake their heads and walk away.

Anyway, if the above mentioned sketch is evidence of a growing trend it seems this default position might actually be shifting a little. (Still, I don't think the disdain shown was sincere. Even though they mocked the Greens I doubt very much any of the Chaser boys actually voted for the LNP. That would still be a bridge too far!)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Andrew Frost vents on RN's Artworks

If you want an illustration of the sneering nihilism that's de rigueur in Australia's arts world, then you can't go past a recent, hilarious gargle by trendy presenter Andrew Frost. It's on their ABC, natch.

Apparently this guy (who sounds just as pompous and smug as he looks on the ABC website photo) is supposed to be some sort of expert - a young, hip version of Robert Hughes. But after you've listened to Frost's piece, try to imagine the highly intelligent and articulate Hughes coming up with anything as infantile, incoherent and smug. The fact that this buffoon has any credibility at all shows there's something deeply and seriously awry in Australia's critical establishment (but hey, we knew that already!).

I suspect you'll find it hard to work out exactly what he's getting at, but then I don't think he really knows either. No matter - expressing silly, half-baked ideas badly is an obligatory task for arty intellectuals these days.

But from what I can tell he seems really upset about democracy and its multiplicity of voices, and thinks there's a better alternative out there somewhere. We just have to dare to imagine it ... or something. He fails to be much more specific than that. But it does sound a lot like he's hoping for a totalitarian state in which he and his ilk call the shots. Why is that not surprising?

Being broadcast on the ABC, Frost's vent ticks several politically correct boxes. Among other things he alludes to the impending catastrophe of climate change, and sneers at populism and commercial art galleries. The piece even has some vaguely indigenous-sounding background music, mercifully serving to break up the verbal sludge. (Actually it's probably the best thing about it. There was certainly some skill involved here. That's pretty much outlawed in Artsville now, so we should be thankful when it is present.)

It's unintentionally hilarious (and strangely, also a tad disturbing) because Frost is cynical to the point of nihilism, then upset about all the cynicism he sees around him. The funniest part is when he exhorts us to demand that politicians treat us as adults. That's the exact point at which he sounds more petulant and childish than ever!

So, have a listen. I suggest you do it in two sessions with at least an hour apart. If you inflict it upon yourself all in one go, it'll probably make your ears bleed.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Grant Hobson and the Basil Sellers Art Prize

A photographer with a very pro-green artwork has been shortlisted for it in a prestigious art competition. The piece is highly critical of a surf competition in Streaky Bay, South Australia, saying that it was a violation of the idyllic natural environment.

"Be surrounded by wildlife and feel as though you're part of nature rather than just having guys crawling all over you and having jet-skis tearing around and it just being another version of the Gold Coast - I mean it's a different experience and i think it's worth considering what the implications are of just having major companies come in and use it as a backdrop to shoot commercials and flog product," he explained.

If he's so appalled by commercialism, why did he enter his artwork into one of Australia's richest competitions? Surely he was trying to flog product, too.

Sounds like he was using green to, er, get some green. If so he wasn't the first artist to try this. And he definitely won't be the last.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Spencer Tunick's Opera House nudes finally unveiled

Several months ago famed photographer Spencer Tunick took shots thousands of naked people at Sydney's Opera House. These photos have now finally been released.

It's mystifying they took this long. They're just photos of a bunch of naked people. And Tunick has done exactly the same thing many times in cities all over the world.

The writer of the Sydney Morning Herald article doesn't seem too impressed by them, and makes this slightly snarky observation:

But what we would really like to see is the giant piles of clothes and shoes presumably somewhere off camera.

That sounds like a good idea. It's certainly original. And a change is as good as a rest, after all.