Yayoi Kusama Eyes are Singing Out 2012, Brisbane Supreme Court Source: couriermail.com.au
via exhibition I never on Pinterest

The first target was the Premier’s Literary Awards, including the unique David Unaipon Award for unpublished indigenous writers. Noting Doris Pilkington won the award in 1990 for Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, which was adapted for a film.

Within days of taking office, the awards were axed as part of the Queensland Liberal National Party’s (LNP) promised cost-cutting drive. And it’s not the first time the awards have been the subject of criticism by the LNP. Last year, the LNP took issue with the short-listing of former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks’ controversial book for the Non-Fiction Book Award, suggesting any prize money may have to be confiscated under proceeds of crime laws. Then Premier Ms Bligh hit back at critics of the independent panel’s decision, suggesting the LNP’s then arts spokesman Scott Emerson was trashing free speech and “reducing himself to a book burner”. Saying further, “The day that we see Premiers intervening in things like literary awards and making themselves self-appointed judges of the artistic merit… then Queensland takes a step backwards, and it will never happen while I am Premier”.

Author Matthew Condon said the decision to scrap the awards was “spectacular in its idiocy” and described the prize money as a pittance. Suspecting the amount was similar to Queensland mining magnate and LNP benefactor Clive Palmer’s “cocktail onion bill for the year”.

The axing attracted fierce-witted criticism, including multiple comments directed at Dave:
“That’s exactly like going to buy a $14,000 car and going to another dealer to save yourself 25cents!
ch^os |

Or “So Dave, that’s a cut of 0.00053%. Or if you like, that’s $5.30 in a $1,000,000.00. Dave, five bucks in a million is not going to plug any leaks, it’s not even enough to buy a bung.
Eco-worrier | Sunrise Beach

I will happily pay for a literary award, if you pay for the Commonwealth Games.
Scot | auchenflower

“In Newman’s world, writing, bookstores, films and publishing are not real industries? These awards do not grow wealth and the skills of Queenslanders? [This] is not about money, it is about hatred of anyone to [the] left of Genghis Khan. …But a casino for Clive, don’t you worry that, already approved. [Good-on-ya] Ashgrove.
Kfish | Qld

“Once you’ve read the collected works of Ayn Rand, what is [there] left to read? If anything, this doesn’t go far enough. They should announce a new Book Burning Award, abolish libraries, ban the letter ‘T’.
Jimbo |

Then youth music programs took a hit and public art took a lashing. Most notably Andy Goldsworthy’s Strangler Cairn 2011 for the Conondale National Park Great Walk: “An egg-shaped pile of rocks that will crumble into its environment has cost taxpayers almost $700,000 after being built in a remote section of national park near the Sunshine Coast”. Comments are mixed and at the Huffington Post, a little misguided by the description of the location, but include “if they spent that much on a bomb everyone would be cool with it”.

Nor did Yayoi Kusama’s Eyes are Singing Out 2012, installed in the public square facing the new Brisbane Supreme Court, escape criticisms by the LNP and Courier Mail; a newspaper that lost any vague resemblance of impartiality when it proclaimed that it endorsed Campbell Newman in the days leading up to the election. In an article re-titled The eyes have it in $1m psychiatric art attack, Des Houghton alludes to a heart attack while emphasising that Kusama has been living in a psychiatric hospital for 36 years.

In a re-hash by the same author the following day, Attorney-General and Justice Minister Jarrod Bleijie is credited with describing the Kusama as “puerile”. And a quote pulled out of context, “suggestive not only of a watchful public but also omnipotence, enlightenment and inspiration” is described as “breathlessly” “pretentious”. Far-fetched, within context it seemed pretty straightforward really:

Like much of her artwork, it uses symbols that can communicate across cultures. The disembodied eye featured in Eyes are Singing Out is a symbol that appears in many cultures throughout time, for example, in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. It is suggestive not only of a watchful public but also omnipotence, enlightenment and inspiration. Kusama reminds us that it is through the experience of sight that our humanity and our empathy for others are instigated and negotiated.

A self-proclaimed “traditionalist”, Bleijie doesn’t like the other works either. Despite both being reminiscent of frescos, in a contemporary architectural context, and one by an Indigenous artist.

Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda (aka) Sally Gabori was born during the mid-1920s on Bentinck Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria. In the late 1940s the island suffered a severe drought and high tides. The low-lying island became uninhabitable and the people were moved to Mornington Island: an event so traumatic that no babies were born/survived a generation. As such, Gabori is one of the last remaining speakers of the Kayardild language of Bentinck Island. Her original painting Dibirdibi Country, which brings together four beloved places in Gabori’s life, has been translated to the wall overlooking the Banco Court.

In reference to Gemma Smith’s work in particular, painted directly onto the ceiling, often lying on a platform in the same way Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, Bleijie was quoted saying “White paint would have been good for me”. In another article by Robert MacDonald that reminisces about former Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen he asks “Does that make him a philistine?”

In the latest instalment, the arts portfolio has suffered a number of “savage” cuts including $2.2 million from The Queensland Art Gallery (QAG | GoMA), $1.6 million from the Queensland Museum, and $12.4 million from arts grants. According to Arts Minister Ros Bates funding to the major arts organisations has more-or-less been maintained, and in some areas funding has been increased. Namely, the Queensland Ballet Company has benefited (by just $25,000). Interesting.

Federal Arts Minister Simon Crean immediately appeared the strongest advocate for a sector reportedly worth over $30 billion to the national economy, stating “Governments must view arts and culture funding as an investment not just a price tag” and that it’s “a short-sighted attack on an entire creative generation”.

Crean refers to tourism, one of the four economic pillars for the LNP. But for this incarnation of the LNP, tourism and culture aren’t inextricably linked. Others might argue that the culture of a city is the main attraction. Say New York: The Met, MoMA or both, and in my case a whole lot of other galleries, maybe a band at the Bowery Ballroom, multiple books from Strand Books and something to eat, perhaps Korean. Brisbane, with its causal, unpretentious, benign climate, offers attributes that benefit residents rather than tourists. The city doesn’t offer choices, emphasising the plural, it offers singular institutions and lacks the clash of urbanity. So why specifically tour the city? Again quoting Crean, “This budget from the Newman Government shows they just don’t get it”.

Most concerning is that the cuts reiterate that free and subsidised arts programs may establish a democratic taste for the arts: art is good, it is even good for the public, but it is not something to which the public is entitled. For art dealer Judith Paugh, commenting in response to a piece by Ben Eltham Who’s making money in art? Everyone but the artists for Crikey, art is a capitalist product. Paugh’s clients “take pleasure in the beauty of, or are intellectually stimulated by, the images and ideas in the paintings, sculpture or prints they have bought”. Ultimately, arts funding is supported, governed, dictated, whatever, by the private patrons that can afford it.

But this is just one issue amongst many. Late last month, the 160-year-old spirit of a Westminster public service was destroyed when one of the most contentious pieces of Queensland legislation abolished the permanency of employment. A core principle of a professional civil service in which workers could offer frank advice to political masters without fear or favour in exchange for the withdrawal of other rights, such as the liberty to speak publicly on political issues.

Good-on-ya Ashgrove.

Related posts:
On Trial: Pussy Riot, August 7 2012
They’ve been opening my mail again, August 3 2012
“Free people will always have to guard against repression” May 4 2012


Pineapple patch Mains Road 1913, from ‘Sunnybank Wall of History’ courtesy Sunnybank Plaza
Source: Uploaded by user via exhibition I never on Pinterest

(Speaking of pineapples) my own private neon oasis has been harvesting some awards. Early May, The Australian Institute of Architecture (AIA) awarded The Lantern a Brisbane Regional Commendation for Art & Architecture. The award recognises a collaboration between Donovan Hill, Boxcopy and curator. As part of my own private neon oasis, The Lantern was a memorable space to admire the rising moon, and served artists-in-residence who utilised the viewing platform to survey the deep surrounding landscape of Sunnybank.

And just last week, the Australian Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) named my own private neon oasis the QLD Community Partnership Award winner in recognition of the partnership with Sunnybank Plaza, as well as a best practice recognition. While my own private neon oasis presented multiple complex projects with many stakeholders and collaborators across the shopping precincts at the intersection of Mains Rd and McCullough St, the partnership with Sunnybank Plaza was critical. Both parties worked really well together and it’s a fitting acknowledgement of that collaboration.

my own private neon oasis is accompanied by a 160 page full-colour publication featuring documentation of works by the international and local artists and designers involved, and essays by the curator and contributing writers that address the contexts of the project, with Chinese translations. The publication is available in stores and online. For further information visit museumofbrisbane.com.au/mopno

Related posts:
Hello Pineapple, September 16 2012
Launched, September 16 2011
The Lantern, July 14 2011

Colliding Islands, installation view, courtesy Caboolture Regional Gallery 2012, originally uploaded by cubamxc.

Touring exhibition Colliding Islands recently concluded at the Caboolture Regional Gallery. For the past three-years, the exhibition has traveled to seven venues along the east coast of Australia, attracting over 19,000 visitors. For the four international artists involved, the project has facilitated their first exhibition in Australia. While for regional touring venues and audiences, the project has provided a rare opportunity to engage with international and contemporary art issues. As for the only Australian artist involved and myself, the project’s associated public programming has afforded us with an opportunity to gauge regional audiences. For the most part, this has been interesting and engaging. For example, refer Colliding Islands at Lake Macquarie.

However, it’s amazing just how controversial a nude self-portrait can be. Especially a male nude. For another example, refer The controversial landscape. In this last instalment at Caboolture, Moore’s work was accompanied by a small discrete warning. At first I thought this was funny and curious. Then I suppose, consistent with warnings accompanying television programs and films.

The public program at Caboolture was also interesting. When someone in the audience pronounced the word black (the moment I internally gasp: OMG is he a racist and how am I going to deal with this?) everyone in the gallery jumped down his throat. But then after elaborating on Moore’s work, an older, purse-lipped woman stated, “I just don’t get what he’s trying to say, aside from that he’s well endowed.” Her lack of empathy was astounding and nobody jumped down her throat.

I later learnt that a parent, with their child, missed the warning and was upset. The gallery seemed to consider the issue covered, as the warning was there. They seemed unprepared to elaborate on the issues. I suspect that there could have been a female nude in the next gallery and they wouldn’t draw any correlation. Interesting. Next time, I know to prepare answers for the most fundamental FAQs.

The accompanying catalogue continues to be available online at magsq.com.au

Related posts:
Further to The Betrayal, February 18 2011
Colliding Islands, February 13 2009
Colliding Islands: Changes in subjectivity, February 6 2009

Dan Flavin untitled (to Piet Mondrian through his preferred colors, red, yellow and blue) and untitled (to Piet Mondrian who lacked green) 2 1986 Source: illumni.com.au via exhibition I never on Pinterest

Berndnaut Smilde Nimbus II 2012 Source: buzzfeed.com via exhibition I never on Pinterest

Naoya Hatakeyama A BIRD/Blast #130 2006 Source: spaceframed.blogspot.com via exhibition I never on Pinterest

Tiffany Singh Knock On The Sky Listen To The Sound 2011, originally uploaded by mxccuba.

I’m not sure why I was so keen to see Guido van der Werve’s Nummer Acht: Everything is going to be alright 2007, it’s better online. But Tiffany Singh’s Knock On The Sky Listen To The Sound 2011 was a pleasant surprise. And the only thing really worth mentioning about MCA’s refurbishment is Robert Owen Sunrise #3 2006.

Related posts:
Back in Sydney, July 29 2010
Sydney Biennale: Cockatoo Island (part 2), May 14 2010
Sydney Biennale: Vernissage, May 11 2010

Finding Country, originally uploaded by cubamxc.

Finding Country is an idea about that which cannot be seen. Its question is ‘what can be revealed through Country?’ and its directorship is exclusively aboriginal in origin and trajectory.

Directed by Kevin O’Brien, Finding Country will be a collateral exhibition at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. The exhibition will present, from an aboriginal perspective, an aboriginal position on space in Australia.

Right now, the project seeks to raise the funds needed to execute. So far, it’s very close with almost 50% of the desired funding committed, and pledges close 21 June. For further information and/or to support, refer Pozible | Crowdfunding and follow the links there.

Related posts:
Colliding Islands at Lake Macquarie City Gallery, June 4 2011
Further to The Betrayal, February 18 2011
Featured Project, July 24 2010

Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely and Per Olov Ultvedt Hon – En Kathedral (She – A Cathedral), 1966, installation view Moderna Museet, Stockholm Source: dailyartwork.tumblr.com via exhibition I never on Pinterest

I’m kinda confused. Republicans used to be about families, picnics, waving flags and maybe even eating hotdogs – although without the raw onions, because nothing bad should come out of a Republican’s mouth, be it foul breath or foul language. But these days Republicans seem to be interested not only in swearing but also in watching porn movies and looking inside vaginas. If they used to indulge in such illicit activities, they would do so privately (and blame them publicly on loose Democratic morals). Now we all have to listen to arch-conservatives besmirching traditional Republican ideals.

Read more… Frieze Magazine | Archive | Right & Wrong.

‘A tiny number of ideas can go a long way, as we’ve seen. And the Internet makes that more and more likely. What’s happening is that we might, in fact, be at a time in our history where we’re being domesticated by these great big societal things, such as Facebook and the Internet. We’re being domesticated by them, because fewer and fewer and fewer of us have to be innovators to get by. And so, in the cold calculus of evolution by natural selection, at no greater time in history than ever before, copiers are probably doing better than innovators. Because innovation is extraordinarily hard. My worry (Mark Pagel) is that we could be moving in that direction, towards becoming more and more sort of docile copiers.’

To watch and/or read Infinite Stupidity with Mark Pagel [12.15.11] | Edge

Australian Pavilion 2011 Philip Cox, Giardini, Venice Biennale P. E. Condon, originally uploaded by cubamxc.

I was going to post about this early April. You receive these press releases, which can spark reactions, but eventually you err not to bother. But I happened to re-read this post earlier today and realised, I’ve already written about it: ‘we call it the white box because it’s where the art is and the black box because it’s where the cinema is’ or ‘a white box contained within a black box’, it’s all the same. Yawn.

But to be fair, and update the previous post, GoMA and their contemporary arts programs are immensely popular (and popularist). You don’t need to do any market research, it’s visibly apparent. The galleries are bustling, particularly during the weekends, where masses of children rub shoulders (or knees) with politicians and co. However, this doesn’t really excuse black and white boxes. Yawn.

Other related posts:
Cooling centre: networked infrastructure, May 24 2007
MoMA: Casual Friday Shopping, January 25 2007
Seattle Public Library, January 6 2007

more mopno publication, originally uploaded by cubamxc.

“a gorgeous publication featuring Metaverse’s Hologram Holiday
Augmented Reality Nails, is now available to purchase in iNails salon
in Sunnybank, right next to the coloured polish…. super cute !”
– Thea Baumann, Metaverse Makeovers

Related posts:
mopno | publication, March 1 2012
In case you missed the full moon, October 9 2011
more mopno love, September 20 2011

Bob and Roberta Smith and Tim Newton Who is Community? 15:06min, originally uploaded by mxccuba.

Who is Community? imagines a romantic tryst between Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic committee, and Hannah Arendt, a political theorist.

To watch Bob and Roberta Smith and Tim Newton Who is Community? 15:06min

Related posts:
The propensity of things, September 18 2011
Love the Future, May 9 2011
Mierle Laderman Ukele at Armory, February 23 2007

Picture 4, originally uploaded by cubamxc.

… apparently Boxcopy managed to, refer Boxcopy in Sunnybank, but they’ll be another this Wednesday. Although I’m sure the vegetarian has the last remaining moon cakes, to celebrate the full moon with family and friends, tea and moon cakes will be available at The Lantern 7 – 8pm this Wednesday 12 October. For further information and program updates refer Museum of Brisbane.

Related posts:
Last opportunities to catch up with, September 29 2011
The propensity of things, September 18 2011
Monday Part #2, September 15 2011

dsc_2242, originally uploaded by cubamxc.

There were these balloons. They were Luis Barragan colours, mostly yellow and pink. Weeks ago when Jeong Hwa and I first spotted them, they were a large bunch gently floating at the top of a tree, above the corner of Sunny Park. He said they were really beautiful, and he was right, they really were the prettiest bunch of balloons I ever recall. Many were still there the evening I had tea with Boxcopy, days later. I wish I’d been able to take a photo. But I’ve managed to come across this one from ACCA’s blog.

Random posts:
Landscapes, October 9 2011
At Opera House, May 14 2010
from unit-197, March 24 2006

madge story, originally uploaded by cubamxc.

Came across this wonderful post at Ginger + Smart’s blog quite some time ago:

“Recently we spent the afternoon researching our next collection in the chilly
basement of the Powerhouse Museum Archives.

We found this crazy piece by Madge Gill from the 1920’s. She was one of the first female British Outsider Artists in London and her now famous work is known as Mediumistic Art. Madge went mad after her daughter died in the flu epidemic and would speak for hours to the spiritual guides in her head while she embroidered
her wild thoughts onto linen dresses.

We quite loved her madness.”

It’s a bit of shame their blog is just a continuous stream, but refer Ginger + Smart’s blog

Related posts:
I wish I still had my pyjamas on, January 21 2007
But wait there’s more, January 8 2006
¡Viva! ¡Frida! November 29 2005