Be True to Yourself
IN OPENING LAST MONTH’S EDITORIAL STATEMENT with mention of two headline-grabbing art controversies, I didn’t anticipate the July issue of Art Monthly would trigger a similar reaction; Art Monthly would trigger a similar reaction; Art Monthly contrary to the criticism that this was my primary intention – a cheap publicity stunt – by putting a detail of Polixeni Papapetrou’s Olympia as Lewis Carroll’s Beatrice Hatch before White Cliffs (2003) on the cover, thereby further exploiting what seemingly many see as an image of exploitation anyway. I say ‘seemingly’ because in the all too infl ammatory language of our mainstream media, the loudest voice isn’t necessarily the most representative (or most reasonable).
Without labouring the point, regarding the rationale for last month’s cover and inside content, I still maintain that the magazine offered an informed and rational response to the issues – censorship, nudity, consent – which were very much current when the July issue was in production. A cheap stunt might have been to secure a provocative image by Henson for the cover given that his ‘offending’ works were all cleared by the Classifi cation Board before we went to print. But the issue is much bigger than Henson, as nuanced by our cover image and related articles. If anything, July’s cover image showed the potency of art in eliciting a diverse range of opinions on a subject of deep and far-reaching concern. Papapetrou’s Olympia is indeed the face that launched a thousand emails and a lot more words … some, regrettably, hostile and marred by ill intent, but many with a view to furthering the debate. In this light, we publish a selection of responses in our Letters pages with the possibility of including additional letters on our website.
To close the matter where indeed the July issue left off, the Classifi cation Board has awarded our July issue #211 an Unrestricted classifi cation with a consumer advice of M, not recommended for readers under 15 years. The front cover image has been deemed ‘low in impact’ and: ‘The overall tone and tenor of the publication and the debate contained therein is considered to be serious, have genuine artistic and educational merit and to warrant consideration as such, set as they are, in their particular historical and cultural context.’
This month’s cover image, George and Laura simply adore the War on Terror (#2) by Melbourne artist Penny Byrne, does not signal (at least on my part) a new predilection for the political, having been chosen well before we donned our battle fatigues for the war of words with the media last month. The socalled ‘War on Terror’ is a subject fi t for satire, which Byrne revisits with vintage fl air and humour here. This piece is part of a major body of work comprising Byrne’s representation at the biennial Melbourne Art Fair early this month (July 30 to August 3), an exciting exposition of contemporary Australian/ international art to which the following articles on artists Sam Jinks and Victoria Reichelt also directly relate.
August is also the month of Indigenous art with the 25th
Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award staged at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin. Rumours of various art centre withdrawals and protests threaten to corrode this Award exhibition’s momentous silver lining (as Jeremy Eccles hints at in his review of the book and exhibition by Indigenous art collecting dynamos, Colin and Elizabeth Laverty), but more on that after the exhibition opens. Katrina Schlunke’s brilliant treatise to open the issue centres on a pair of Captain Cook-related works (the original and the
Penny Byrne, ‘This is all Australia has left of my people.’ Anthony Martin Fernando. Australia
House, London, 1929, 2008, antique majolica fi gurine, bone skeletons, epoxy resin, epoxy putty, re-touching medium, powder pigments. Exhibited, along with the work on the cover,
in Penny Byrne: Collateral Damage, Melbourne Art Fair 08, 30 July to 3 August 2008.
‘pirated’) in curator Ace Bourke’s recent Lines in the Sand exhibition (also more on this exhibition in a later issue). Aboriginal writers Djon Mundine and Daniel Browning wax lyrical and critically on, respectively, the work of artist Karla Dickens, and the notion of a queer Indigenous Pacifi c aesthetic, while academic Vivien Johnson retraces the Storylines Project in Tasmania against the persistence of the ‘Rowley line’ in demarcating ‘authentic’ Aboriginal art.
‘All that glitters’ takes on new meaning in Julie Dowling’s latest post-Apology series of paintings. Equally, the gloss of youth-as-advertorial in David Rosetzky’s Nothing like this video Nothing like this video Nothing like this is taken to task in Holly-Mae Emerson’s earnestly titled Be True to Yourself, her fi rst published article. No Em Files for this issue to Yourself, her fi rst published article. No Em Files for this issue to Yourself but rather the eX File, a profi le on Canberra artist eX de Medici to accompany the release of her special limited edition print, It’s a Global World, to commemorate Art Monthly’s 21st anniversary. Many thanks to eX for her ‘old school’ generosity and talent. Please come along and see eX’s print and meet the AMA team at the Magazine Stand (fi rst fl oor, above the entrance, Royal Exhibition Building) if you are in Melbourne for this month’s Melbourne Art Fair 08.
Yours (in a worldly globe), Maurice
Supported by the ACT Government
Art Monthly Australia is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. Art Monthly Australia is supported by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian State and Territory Governments.