Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hilariously pompous PIAF events for UWA's Cultural Precinct

Here in Perth different tertiary institutions have long had different reputations. Particularly when it comes to the arts Curtin University and Murdoch have always been seen as wildly left-wing and politically correct, kind of like Berkeley in California. Yet the University of WA had a more fusty and conservative image. It was known as the kind of place you might still find the odd pipe-smoking, classics-loving prof who would actually defend Shakespeare and other "dead white males" against accusations of racism, sexism, and homophobia. 

Nowadays, though, I think that even that picturesque campus has been overtaken by the cowardly, bullying anti-Western left. Look at the UWA website. The main page states

The University of Western Australia acknowledges that its campus is situated on Noongar land.

The first thing to ask is: Well, academics, if you're on "stolen" land, then why don't you destroy all the buildings, remove the rubble and just bloody well bugger off?

I can imagine a lot of Aussies of European descent being annoyed by this but the greater insult is to Aborigines. It's clearly just a mealy-mouthed, symbolic gesture that's demonstrably insincere. 

Then there's the creepily named UWA "Cultural Precinct". It has details of a plethora of art events being held for the Perth International Arts Festival. They are called "Dialogues with Landscape" which does seem appropriate, since by seeing them you might as well be "communing with nature".

Many of these creative happenings seem more pretentious than anything coming out of Curtin or Murdoch. Reading them, I couldn't help thinking that they were all part of some painstakingly constructed self-parody.

Nope. They're real. Take this, from the fantastically named George Egerton-Warburton:

Following on from his whimsical Chicken Stampede project for the 2010 Next Wave Festival, George Egerton-Warburton presents The Stalactite Love Review, a series of nine performances delivered to groups of five atop a small buggy.

Driven around the campus by the artist, participants will watch as panting actors deliver a shambolic narrative inspired by conversations with students, academics and university staff about the perceptibility of ley lines within the UWA campus. The performances can be revisited through freecall hotline places marked at various sites around the campus.

I won't say anything. I'll just let those words settle in your brain.

Then there's this deep green offering from Nien Schwarz called Radicle:

The title refers to the first part of a seedling to emerge from a seed.

Sleeping bags are rolled to form soft-sculptural planters that support the growth of 100 native plants within a temporary arboretum. Each plant is fitted with an identifying tag that contains a reference to complimentary research papers developed by faculty and students.

The work is designed to complement UWA’s Centenary, its heritage-listed gardens and its vast chambers of research while provoking consideration of historical and contemporary relationships to Western Australian flora.

Radical, alright.

Finally, there's artist Bennett Miller. "He will work with greyhounds" in an upcoming piece. But now, he's collaborating with peacocks. He does seem to have crafted some actual physical objects, which is good to know. So many so-called artists these days can't even be arsed doing that. Still, the promoted events seem a tad underwhelming:

Enticing the peacocks to their new hangout is a series of sculptural arches inspired by UWA’s stately architecture. The arches lead the birds outside the New Fortune Theatre, where three times a week viewers are invited to watch the happy peacocks being fed by the artist.

So, it's art when some grungy-looking dude feeds the birds?

Well, at least the plumes are visually interesting ...

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