politics

Hannah Arendt

March 15, 2014
Barbara Sukowa stars as the eponymous German writer and philosopher in 'Hannah Arendt'.

The jollities and distortions of The Monuments Men would not have impressed Hannah Arendt, the German-Jewish intellectual who wrote an impressively forensic account of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, whom some describe as the architect of the Final Solution. Neither would they go down well with Margarethe von Trotta, who has made a long line … More


Yoko Ono

November 30, 2013
Artist Yoko Ono, Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, 2013

For an artist who has devoted her career to peace, love and understanding, Yoko Ono’s press call at the Museum of Contemporary Art was unpleasantly regimented. Journalists and photographers were herded from room to room like errant sheep, and it was made clear that questions about John Lennon would not be welcome. The only problem … More


The Iron Lady

January 14, 2012
Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady

There’s more than a hint of irony in the title of this film, because the Iron Lady looks decidedly rusty in her old age. Although a bio pic of Margaret Thatcher is inevitably a political drama, this movie might be best described as a study of dementia. Most of our time is spent with an … More


German idols

November 5, 2011
mgb11_ai_wei_wei_16_portrait_LIGHTHOCH

In Germany, Ai Weiwei is the new Joseph Beuys. I arrived at this conclusion in Berlin, after seeing an exhibition of film footage of Joseph Beuys in Japan, at the Hamburger Bahnhof; and a show of 220 photos by Ai Weiwei, at the Martin-Gropius Bau. I’ve been in Deutschland for a conference on the Chinese … More


Din Q. Lê: Erasure, Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2011

August 27, 2011
Dinh Q. Lê Erasure, 2011 digital video (still) Courtesy the artist and Sàn Art Independent Artist Space, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

It was astonishing to learn that in a recent opinion poll Australians rated border protection as a more important issue than health, education, transport or housing. This is one of those statistical miracles that testify to our growing sense of social paranoia and the power of political scare campaigns. The facts are well known but … More


The last days of the Caponian empire

August 9, 2011
Locust Jones, News of the world

What a deathly year it has been for artists! In quick succession we have lost Cy Twombly, Lucian Freud, and now John Hoyland. The latter was especially disturbing, as I had just contributed a catalogue essay to his exhibition with Charles Nodrum in Melbourne. Logically there is nothing surprising about someone dying at a ripe … More


Edmund Capon & his legacy

August 3, 2011
Photo: Nick Moir, SMH

This won’t be the first or last time that someone declares Edmund Capon a hard act to follow. In his thirty-one years as director of the Art Gallery of NSW, Capon has taken a provincial, down-at-heel institution and turned it into a Grade-A showcase for Australian and international art. Yet he leaves at time when … More


The Conspirator

July 30, 2011
The Conspirator

To get the most from The Conspirator it helps to be selectively ignorant of American history. It is useful to have some broad understanding of the brutality and bitterness of the American Civil War, but even better if one has never heard of the conspiracy trial that followed the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. In making … More


Shen Jiawei: the Art of Politics

August 1, 2010

Shen Jiawei became an artist during the Cultural Revolution, making his first major works in the service of the state, embodied in the figure of the Great Helmsman, Mao Zedong. For roughly a decade, from 1966 onwards, every aspect of daily life in China was politicised in a way that seems to defy logic. It … More


Super Cooper

July 15, 2010

Despite a ludicrous survey conducted by the Australia Council that tells us 93 per cent of Australians are actively involved in the arts, the politicians are not fooled. They know that art is a minority pursuit, with no votes to be won or lost. One of the reasons for this stasis is the age-old connection … More


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