Tuesday, July 08, 2008

But he knows what he likes

The Northern Territory News begins its article on the current Art Monthly cover with the screaming headline NUDE GIRL ART OUTRAGE and concludes with an implied whine about arts funding, of the kind you get on the blogs of adolescent male libertarians. In the middle they brag that the Arts Monthly editor Maurice O'Riordan is a Territorian and former art critic for the paper. Confused much?

Not that I think putting the offending (!) photo of the then six-year-old Olympia Nelson on the cover was any kind of a good idea. It may have been meant to be a daring and defiant gesture and I am in sympathy with the various principles behind it, but in terms of smart arts politics it was a really, really stupid thing to do.

Among other things it has the Prime Minister, who during the Bill Henson furore revealed through his attitude and choice of language to discuss it that he understands nothing about the arts and presumably cares less, now harrumphing about requiring the Australia Council to direct its funding in accordance with his personal quirks. Remind you of any other Prime Minister we know?

When I first read this report of Rudd's plans for the Australia Council I was reminded of two things. One was his announcement that he personally will have the final word on the lucrative new Prime Minister's Literary Award, something the judges weren't apprised of until after they'd been offered, and accepted, their positions as judges; presumably he means to continue as he began, making arts policy on the run by fiat when he clearly doesn't know his chiaroscuro from his elbow.

And the other was an image of the entire Australian arts community represented by the outraged figure of Daffy Duck in one of many classic Loony Tunes cartoons: 'Of courthe you know thith meanth war!' [UPDATE: Bugs said it too.]

In the wake of the Henson debate there was urgent need for the arts community and the PM to mend their fences but this is just going to make it worse. You'd think, wouldn't you, that an Arts Minister worthy of the name might step in at this point and do something intelligent.

Oh well.


Anonymous said...
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kris said...

Pavlov's Cat - you are totally right. I hadn't thought about it past being annoyed that Rudd was interfearing. I figured that I'd rather my PM keep busy dealing with running the country... I love reading your blog you open my eyes a little wider which is always a good things!

Miscellaneous-Mum said...

I wrote about this y'day from the perspective of a parent blogger and how I've posted pictures of my kids and if/how this situation has any relation.

And yes, Rudd's reactions to these recent events have disappointed me somewhat too.

Another Outspoken Female said...

That's what we get when we elect a party run by a control freak. Who'd have thought he was the divine being who knew about everything from diplomacy to art? I fear the christian right and Rudd for all the apology and signing Kyoto sends shivers down my spine when entering the field of what may be 'morally' right for this country.

Out of the frying pan, into the fire?

Lucy Sussex said...

I recollect the Gainsborough painting of titled Mama and her cute naked or semi-naked toddlers. Several of these boys grew up to be Admirals in the British Navy, and the painting occasioned them GREAT embarrassment.

And Christopher Robin had a hideous adolescence thanks to Daddy's books.

Don't put your children in the public eye, is what I say. Particularly knickerless. Because the universe having a sense of irony, they will later convert to something fundamentalist, and give you hell about it. Lucy Sussex

Lunar Brogue said...

True. More explicit provocations probably won't help. But there is a part of me that applauds the bringing on of these types of contests. Mediocrity is sometimes best dealt with not by way of diplomacy or sensitive political manoeuvring, but by way of a posterior-targeted firecracker. Witness the Chaser stunt at APEC.

ocky said...

As you suggest, in matters of art, Rudd doesn't know his apse from his albumen. Which kinda kills my idea of entering the Prime Minister's Litr'y Prize with a novel about a tribe of naked six-year-olds. Oh well.

ocky said...

Sorry, a tribe of naked six-year-olds who deliberately annoy Catholics in New South Wales. What horrors!

Pavlov's Cat said...

Lucy and misc-mum, I'm very iffy about putting about images of one's naked children myself. Frankly I think most people are actually a bit bonkers about their children; I assume it's nature's way of ensuring that they don't drop them on their heads or accidentally leave them on the bus, but unfortunately (for them, often) it manifests as a desire to show them off to the world. But Rudd's attitude, and his philistinism, and his attitude to his own philistinism, are all regrettable, which is a different issue.

Ocky, I think it's been done: Lord of the Flies.

ocky said...

Er... yes. Good point. How about a Henry Darger exhibition? Creepy weird and totally insane.


Ampersand Duck said...

Wow, Henry Darger is wild! I can't believe he'd never gone to India -- he had a very Indian miniatures sensibility.