Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Australia" the exhibition - you're boring

"Marking the first major survey of Australian art in the UK for 50 years, this exhibition spans more than 200 years from 1800 to the present day and seeks to uncover the fascinating social and cultural evolution of a nation through its art."

The Australian National Gallery with its "Australia", the exhibition, presented at the Royal Academy in London confirms and reinforces the acceptable Australian Art code. The Landscape and its parochial, slavish depiction, is what defines the accepted Australian Art and artist model. What it does do rather than "uncover a cultural evolution of a nation through its art" is reinforce a cultural myopia through conventionally accepted modes of transmission. Weary artists attempting to break this mold will weep a few more tears of frustration yet. 
"snapper" 2010
Australian artists outside this model, this arts code of conduct, already know that leaving Australia is possibly the only way an artist, practicing in opposition to this format, will escape permanently living a life and career in the underground.

It is an underground to which I belong. Not just outsider artists are relegated to these lower rungs to which no arts institution curator will ever visit, as to do so would be too adventurous and risky, as it would take them outside the accepted boundaries of the main stream which they must reinforce. The art of permanently ignored "bottom dwellers" will never see the light of the acceptable arts scene in Australia and will remain in the shadows…unless someone foreign takes an interest…and even then…this will only be cemented if the interest emerges from the mother-land UK. 

The culture and personality of the Australian art scene as manifested in this exhibition is tainted by a servitude to the depiction of a nationalistic and conventional art form/s that include and reinforce the view that the theme of landscape is what defines Australians as being uniquely "Australian". This limited and landlocked perspective is as oppressive as a gulag to any professional artist attempting to break through such barriers. 

Nationalistic art-forms and the raising of their profile in a manner such as this contain not only bland cliches but are off key in tone and smack of the kind of political triumphalism encouraged by and for a political agenda. Government interferences however subtle in our arts and cultural expression contain the taint of vested interests which bear little relationship with truth and the reality of artistic aims, which are often intended to challenge the status quo a government wishes to present.
The arts must must not simply reflect what a nation wants to hear/see/feel about itself.
For our arts/cultural institutions to consistently reinforce that it is the landscape which characterises the Australian identity alone is a distortion. And, it is a truly unambitious perspective, so low in its horizons that the thinking viewer is brought to tears by their yawns. We must not be forced to reach only for the most basic of basic arguments and fame-work to describe a culture. This is the cultural cringe at its most uninspired and harmful.
Additionally, with its lack of breadth and challenge of the norm, this exhibition reconfirms perceptions that Australia and Australians cannot conceive of a cultural heritage and future without it being shaped to appeal to the perspective and for the approval of the mother-land. This exhibition is hardly a statement of the "masters" of Australian art because it reaches only as high as a biscuit tin depiction of it. Insulting to the viewers it is attempting to reach in addition.
As long as by Australian "masters" it is intended to mean those who depict the narrative of landscape then we will be regarded as the predictable mediocrity that this exhibition represents us to be. Depicting art works by landscape artists, as defined by the body of their life's work, or landscapes cherry picked from the legacy of a non landscape artist's oeuvre, narrows the focus to a blinkered degree. It also blurs the perspective so considerably that now viewers not knowing anything about Australian painters will perceive that they are all En plein air painters.

Every nation has its landscape, parts of Colorado, USA are like parts of outback South Australia. What is it that makes Australian's living in Australia's outback so very different to US citizens living lives in theirs. Nothing. The audience being targeted here is British living in a relatively lush Northern European climate. This distinction by landscape risks being little more than a travel-log and a culture has more depth than this kind of parochial approval seeking presentation can ever possibly hope to display. It is as narrow as the depiction of Germans in beer halls, Greeks smashing plates. 

Two centuries are showcased, using 170 artists, some who spent their careers depicting the landscape, others chosen have works that make incidental or no real reference to the landscape. Yet this aspect alone does not form the ideas or character of a nation. The ideas of a nation manage to emerge from elements from within and without. The landscape is not the shaper of a nation's DNA, the landscape holds our emotions and connections for memory yes, but with or without it were are collectively shaped by more than any passe theme of a (white?) man's struggle with "god and country" wilderness cliches.

Much of this is no "Heart of Darkness" (Joseph Conrad) either but a more predictable and somewhat embarrassing parochial grab at the surface of the matter. Ultimately it all has the ulterior purpose of being a promotional tool it would seem.

Artists who dare to dig deeper into the psyche of a nation and its people will be relegated to the Underground for their troubles. It seems that Australia has yet to reach a status where it is honest enough to show its warts and all messy birth and life to date. This dismal (at best) post adolescent mimicry of what Australian art is and says about itself is what it believes the mother-land want's to see and what the adolescent thinks it will approve of. I hope critics with more bonafides than I challenge it.
To me this exhibition is a great disappointment and bluntly an embarrassment. It hardly represents a unique statement from a country that can, via its art history, announce its emergence from questionable beginnings and fumbling adolescence into confident and promising adulthood. Because it lacks honesty and confidence the officially approved of version of Australian art belongs to a cultural back water held back in a time funk. It is a presentation that denies the art and artistic development of this nation in preference to the comfortable illusions (delusions) of its earliest memories. And, a flawed memory will always fail to observe its flaws.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"An Outbreak of Reason..." In Defamation Law? Unlikely.

Grendel's Mother 2007

At a Directions Hearing intended to assign yet another new start date for our case to be heard at trial Supreme Court of Victoria Associate Justice Melissa Daly remarked as a question to the appearing barristers "…it is possibly safe to assume there has been no outbreak of reason?"

Where Defamation Law fails is in its practice. The facts of a case, the truth, simply get in the way when all that defendants should do is back down in order to be seen as reasonable by the court. It is a flawed and insincere system that is the Victorian Supreme Court. 

I recognise that Justice Daly's comment may come from a sense of helpless frustration as it is likely connected to valid concerns of a congested and overworked court system. However, is this the fault of all parties associated with the attendant grid-locked cases? What I'd ask Justice Daly, if I could is, where is this complained of lack of reason actually present? The subject of reason is one raised over and over by my co-Defendant and I with regards it's relative absence in light of efforts, particularly by the Plaintiff and his lawyers in our case, but also by the justice system itself, to ensure the journey of the case has as little relationship with reason as possible. 

In Defamation Law the legal sanctions and burdens are all on the defendant. The constant rescheduling of our case at such a late hour is out of our hands, and, we've jumped through every fiery hoop one can imagine to get there. What is it that we could do to make matters more reasonable? Give up and lose our life's possessions entirely as well as completely shred our ethics and values?

Justice Daly's off the cuff remark, noted above, in part a defensively put apologia of sorts to the appearing barristers, presumes by its tone that problems or flaws only exist outside those caused by her own industry, and because it presents a perversion of reality I must point out the following:
  1. I am a reasonable person the remark implies this isn't the case.
  2. My co-defendant is a reasonable person the remark implies this isn't the case.
  3. Each in our own way critique the assailing of reason by the forces of unreason in our art and writings. The remark implies this is irrelevant.
  4. Justice Daly's off the cuff remark implies the court assumes there is a lack of reason on behalf of all parties to a case.
  5. The remark and its attendant assumptions issued within an open court room embarrassed with its tone. And, those in attendance found the justice's remark to be amusing at my and my co-defendant's expense.
  6. Reason itself has already been rejected on a number of occasions by officers of the court system itself…Daly has no weight behind her assertion that there is little reason on behalf of the parties when it is the court that has assisted to create the unreasonable circumstances allowing for the case to continue at the behest of an unreasonable litigant.
  7. Defamation Law provides an unreasonable person, who has the financial means, the capacity to utilise the law as a weapon, as a tool of censorship to suppress knowledge of the truth.  As I've noted in previous postings Defamation Law is a known means by which to threaten critics, prevent criticism and quash evidence of truth and therefore apply limits to truth and free speech which the law claims it does not intend to restrict or limit. For further reading see: "Defamation Terrorism is Alive and Well in Australia" & "How Defamation Law Achieves Censorship in modern Australia" etc. 
  8. Defamation Law contains no sign of reasonable checks and balances to prevent its misuse. Misuses are only identified at trial and are rarely punished. 
  9. Those that finally get to trial to defend truth are labelled "unreasonable" by a court system that cannot cope with the self-created problems it complains it has become overburdened by. Our case being delayed is due to other newer cases usurping it in importance (as ours was delayed). This is an outcome we cannot affect. 
  10. The over-burdened court, through its own unreasonable processes, has made a case string out to almost 3 years, then blamed those who are inextricably caught in the inevitable congestion for this outcome. Thus the court turns on those who have been victims once making them victims all over again by in addition blaming them for possessing a lack of reason.
The question of reason is one we put to the Plaintiff Robert Cripps. When Robert Cripps consistently spewed forth public diatribes containing accusations of racism against us and our exhibition (that we'd unfortunately held in his failed Guildford Lane Gallery) we attempted to reason with him. We challenged his ideas and pointed to the flaws in those ideas and complained to him of his behaviour towards us. The attempts we made to defend our reputation and art however simply further incensed an unreasonable person. 

Why the attempts we made to "reason" with Cripps so spectacularly failed is a good question that we'd like to have answered too. He either ranted more or denied ever having made the accusations we complained of. He further lied about steps he took to distort viewers' understanding of the content of our exhibition and his successful aim to deny us access to the gallery for the duration of the show. His behaviour was and is not that of a reasoned or reasonable person. 

I give you "Exhibit A" being the defamation case before the Supreme Court of Victoria brought by the Plaintiff Robert Cripps. It is not that I or my co-Defendant lack reason in being forced to defend ourselves against a person using an unreasonable system that feeds and nurtures his unreasonable sense of hurt. Robert Cripps, a person who has caused me and my co-Defendant harm, and the Supreme Court of Victoria have forced me to engage with them both, not the other way around.

Daly (et al) complain of what I see as a self inflicted - overburdened - system. It appears they have a different view since it is believed there must be a taint upon our character or the character of other/all parties to a case by association, as they will have us all lumped together as persons who lack reasonableness. 

It is Robert Cripps who detected the weaknesses in Defamation Law and who is now attempting to exploit it to his advantage. He like others before him see an opportunity, using defamation law to make up for complained of poor business practices and unprofessional behaviour. Defamation Law and the courts contribute to and validate such unreasonableness by not striking out cases brought to it that are clearly vexatious litigation. 

If Defamation Law is to maintain a valid place it must reform and tighten up its proclaimed "objects of the act". Where are the early phase checks and balances to avoid its misuses? It should never be used to prop or conceal a poor reputation in order that it may continue to cause harm. It should never be possible to misuse Defamation Law in order to make financial gain on the basis of concealing the truth of a pre-existing and extant poor reputation. 
The result is that in practice Defamation Law does exactly what is claimed it is framed to avoid, limit and restrict the imparting and receipt of information, as it dismisses truth as being harmful to a reputation and therefore defamatory. 
The only cause of any harm ever to Robert Cripps, is Robert Cripps. Perhaps he really should be suing himself?

If there exists any lack of reason it is in a poorly framed Defamation Law that does not care where, how or when it should not be used, in a judicial system that merely looks the other way as it is over-whelmed(?), and in Plaintiffs who will exploit these built in flaws.

Other Reading (image heavy):

About Leeanneart

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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
We are first and foremost human with a responsibility to the humanity within us and not to any faith, political, apolitical, social or societal group, union or faction. We are responsible for our own reputation, and for what deeds we do and what achievements or otherwise in life we enjoy. The rest is nonsense.