Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Angus Alien sculpture in Forrest Place, Perth

A few days ago I read about a new sculpture that's being erected in the centre of Perth, in Forrest Place. It's been named the "Angus Alien" after the creator, James Angus.

It was chosen in a million dollar competition, apparently. And who forked out the cash? Well, being funded by the Department of Culture and the Arts, ultimately it looks like the long suffering Aussie taxpayer did, as usual.

So, are West Aussies getting value for money? Well, to be honest, I don't think so. See, I went and had a squizz late last week and I have to admit to being distinctly underwhelmed.

I mean, have a look at it. A grand times a grand for this?

Sure, the thing isn't quite finished. As you can see there was a lot of fencing and stuff around it. There were also several workmen milling around too.

Hey, wait on ... What if the work was finished and they were actually part of the artist's master plan? Including actual living, breathing humans in art installations is way trendy these days, after all.

Certainly possible. There was one guy who seemed to be striking the same sorta-nonchalant and kinda-dreamy pose in various positions around the piece. He's the bloke in the bottom right hand corner of this shot.

A bit later on, he was doing much the same thing on the other side of the sculpture. 

Maybe he wasn't some beefy construction worker thinking "what the hell is this crap?" after all, but a highly trained mime artist.

Yes, that was it! These were all organic elements in James Angus's grand vision! The audacity of it was just breathtaking. You would never have suspected.

They made it all seem like they were real, and the project still under construction. You really have to admire their creative skill -- not to mention commitment. Hell, not only did these guys completely look the part, they were stopping traffic, too. They were just totally into their roles. Must have taken months of character research ...

And some of this performance art can be dangerous, you know. Take this guy, assiduously pursuing his Stanislavskian objectives precariously a whole metre above his fellow thespians.

Brilliant. And brave. Well, I do hope he was getting paid equity rates. And I'm sure he was, and will continue to do so for the life of the project.

I'm gobsmacked. The concept is so sophisticated, and it's been realized with such amazing attention to detail. And it's all been achieved for only a million bucks ...

Hell, that's not overpriced. It's a steal!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Labor-lover Noni Hazlehurst strikes the PC pose on Q and A

Noni Hazlehurst gave a textbook performance in PC posturing on last Monday's Q and A, ticking many of the boxes required by the hand-wringing, finger-wagging elite. Those who wish to advance in the taxpayer funded morass of mediocrity, sanctimony and cant that is Artsville, Orstraya would do well to observe her platitude rich performance closely.

She opened with a lame observation about how fortunate we are in Australia. Sheesh. Never heard that one before. Won't someone think of the Somalis, she implored. It was utterly fatuous; on a par with saying that war is bad, or there should be more civility in politics.

NONI HAZLEHURST: Look, I think that Australians are realising that we are going to have to tighten our belts on a number of fronts and it's interesting that with all the talk about the global financial crisis, and there is so much talk about it, that Somalia is out of the headlines. And why aren't we all saying "Let's donate $2 to" - every Australian donate $2 to the Somalian famine relief? And we're all complaining we're going to have to spend another $5 on electricity. We're not going to have as much money to play with. We're incredibly rich. We're very well placed, compared to the rest of the world, and we just seem to be obsessed with worrying that we might not have just as much as we thought we might have to see our retirements are through and I think we're - our priorities are wrong.

Who's this "we" she speaks of? Well, Noni's very well off, no doubt -- as are her latte slurping, skivvy wearing, Prius driving comrades. And she's arrived at that relaxed and comfortable place thanks to the hard work of taxpayers she so imperiously expects to tighten their belts. Typical smug, superior sermonizing from a plump parasite who has never struggled.

Clearly she's a rusted on Labor luvvie and was very supportive of the Government throughout the episode. She didn't utter a word of criticism of Labor, even when it came to their asylum seeker policy, which is surely less "compassionate" than anything John Howard dreamed up. No, in Noni's tiny mind, it's only bad when the Libs do it.

She spun for the party more zealously than any of Labor's highly paid hacks 'n' flacks could've, too:

NONI HAZLEHURST: Well, I certainly think if the Government is continually talked down and if the government successes are not made more of, you know, I can't imagine why the derisory election campaign that they waged at the last election - why that happened. They need to talk more about their successes. And, you know, I've had a lot to do with 2 year olds and I think Australians are heartily sick of Tony Abbott's case of the terrible twos where he just says no to everything.

Firstly, what successes? Can you name even one?

And what else can Abbott do but be "negative". Considering how disastrously incompetent the Government is, being "negative" is actually very positive. I mean, if you had the big C, you'd try to kill it with chemo wouldn't you? Hoping that the radical treatment worked would surely be "looking on the bright side" now wouldn't it?

There was much talk in response to the obligatory question about Joolya's gender, and are they attacking her because she's a girl? Noni was flat out wrong when she said that previous PMs were not commonly referred to by their first names ("little Johnny Howard" and "Kevin07" spring immediately to mind).

Along with Graham Richardson she saw this pervasive use of the PM's first name as some sort of sign of disrespect. But I'd argue that one of the reasons that started was because Joolya herself was at pains to present a casual, warm, approachable persona ("the real Julia", remember), girling it up at every opportunity with that stupid fake giggle of hers. Then there was that utterly cringeworthy 60 Minutes expose of her creepy home life with her significant other. Yeugh. How nauseating was that?

Basically what started off as an expression of affectionate familiarity has become one of total disdain. And for that, Joolya has no one to blame but herself. (Also, it was pretty funny that Noni wants more respect for her heroine yet she made those tired old jibes about Abbott's big ears and budgie smugglers. Truly infantile -- but sadly par for the course for the sisterhood. Yet another sign that feminism has reached terminal bimbocity.)

No leftie gargle is complete these days without a gratuitous reference to shock jocks, and Noni made several of those. There's nothing that sushi socialists hate more than those who allow honest expressions of discontent from the working class.

She also revealed her superior attitude to blue collar workers in this condescending comment

NONI HAZLEHURST: I think the point you make about the blue collar workers that he appeals to, these are the people who are losing jobs. These are the people whose jobs are disappearing and who are very fearful and so they respond to fear and I think that's part of the reason why Tony Abbott's had such success...

Kelly O'Dwyer sensed the patronising subtext and was onto it in a flash:

KELLY O'DWYER: What, are you saying they are ignorant? Is that - are you...

Sheesh. She's a renowned, Logie-winning actress and she can't even mask her contempt for working class Australians.

Which actually raises a valid question: How did she become so respected? She's actually pretty ordinary as a thesp. 

Well, the answer lies in her Q and A performance. In Artsville, it doesn't matter how mediocre you are. You've just gotta keep thumping that leftie tub like a bastard! Do that and not only will you stay in work, you'll be lauded for it too.

No wonder so many of our plays, films and TV shows are such lifeless, soulless, cringeworthy crap.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cartoonist Robert Crumb's festival cancellation and the effect of art on behaviour

Cartoonist Robert Crumb, who was the subject of this fascinating documentary back in the nineties, has decided to pull out of a scheduled appearance at an upcoming Sydney arts festival. It seems he was rather upset by just one newspaper article about him:

"It was strong stuff and it made me look very, very bad," Crumb said. "All it takes is a few people who overreact to something like that to show up and cause unpleasantness. I have a lot of anxiety about having to confront some angry sexual assault crisis group."

It's odd that he would react so sensitively. He's been controversial for decades and you'd think that he would have developed a thicker hide by now. Or maybe age has made him more sensitive than he was before? Who knows ...

In any case the cancellation will be the cause of much, er, lefteous indignation in Artsville. Numerous Newtown earring tuggers would no doubt have cursed into their lattes upon hearing the news. There'll be much outraged chatter about the censorious forces of prudish conservatism, and the absurd desire to demonize cartoons -- cartoons! -- of all things.

But as so often happens in Artsville, the outrage is very selective. Because you can also be sure that many of those arcing up about the intimidation of Robert Crumb will have been on the side of the censors when it came to the Mohammed cartoons.

You can also be sure that a lot of these same haughty hepcats would have been crowing with glee to discover that conservatives such as John Howard, Keith Windschuttle and George Pell were cited as influences in the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik's manifesto.

Of course some may weasel out of that little contradiction by saying that these are political and religious figures as opposed to artists. 

But aren't emotions ultimately what make people commit murder? And aren't emotions what art is all (or mainly) about?

If that's the case and you believe that those a murderer cites as influences must also share responsibility for his acts then it's actually an artist who's more to blame for the Norway massacre than anyone. That artist is the British musician Clint Mansell.

He composed the score for the movie Requiem for a Dream, which Breivik thought was very inspiring and "invokes a type of passionate rage in you". It seems he listened to it repeatedly while committing the atrocity to keep him fired up. Now, if that doesn't qualify as a direct causal link I just don't know what does.

So, for all those goateed, grumpy little lefties out there the course is very clear. If they're going to argue for the censorship of columnists they detest then they'll also have to argue for the silencing (and even imprisonment!) of musos they adore.

As usual, they just haven't thought things through. The meatheads.

UPDATE: I wrote all of the above without even bothering to look for examples of outrage. That's because I've endured years of bolshie bleating from these often bong-fogged numpties and I know exactly what to expect. They are nothing if not predictable.

Still, I did a quick search a couple of minutes ago and turned up evidence of just the kind of crankiness I mentioned. Not surprisingly the piece implied that the eeevil News Ltd was mostly to blame for Crumb's cancellation:

Crumb might be overreacting but mature Australians lose out once again to a vocal, philistine minority and puritanical, puerile journalism.

They just love that word "philistine" don't they?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Andy Serkis, Che Guevara and Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Just learned that there's a new Planet of the Apes movie out. It's supposed to be very good. The bloke who plays the main chimp character (Caesar) is Andy Serkis. He's the go-to CGI-guy for gollums, ghouls and gorillas, apparently.

Of course he's done a lot of ape watching to get the physicality just right. But what's interesting is this political aspect of his characterization:

To draw inspiration for the other side of Caesar's personality -- as the charismatic leader of an ape uprising -- Mr. Serkis thought of a human revolutionary figure: Che Guevara.

Whether the director also had Guevara in mind is another matter, of course. In any case it appears that this chimpy Che is way more successful than the original. In the movie he and his simean socialists go global with their revolution (acting locally, no doubt) and pretty much take over humanity.

It's fascinating. Guevara was basically a thug and a loser who failed repeatedly to foment revolution in every country he attempted it. (And just as well he did fail, because if he hadn't conditions would have become even worse in those nations.) Yet he's still this powerful symbol of hope, change and idealism for so many people today -- more than a few of them in the arts.

I haven't seen the movie yet so I could be way wrong here, but knowing how PC Hollywood is now I won't be surprised if Rise of the Planet of the Apes is strongly misanthropic, with lots of deep green subtextual sermonizing. (Remember Avatar. The humans were the bad guys there. So there's a good chance the apes are the good guys here.)

Political considerations aside, there is one aspect of this Guevara-gorilla link that makes perfect sense. Bloke looked a bit like an ape, didn't he? And I'm not alone in noticing the similarity, as this t-shirt makes clear