politics

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


Tommy Watson & the politics of the indigenous art market

January 1, 2010

Yannima Tommy Watson is said to have painted his first picture in 2001, in the community of Irrunytju, twelve kilometers south-west of the tri-border, where South Australia meets Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The white man’s borders don’t mean much to the inhabitants of this remote settlement, also known as Wingellina, but it is … More


Tehran

March 1, 2009

“The East looks to itself,” wrote Gertrude Bell in her book, Persian Pictures, “it knows nothing of the greater world of which you are a citizen, asks nothing of you and your civilisation.” In the era of globalisation one can only smile at those Orientalist sentiments that impressed Bell’s readers with their profundity in 1894. … More


Ai Weiwei

May 22, 2008

Ai Weiwei has spent the past decade swimming against a tide that now looks more like a tsunami. Born in 1957, he spent his youth in the remote province of Xingjian, where his father, the poet Ai Qing, had been sent for re-education. The family was not allowed to return to Beijing until 1975, when … More


Hu Ming

July 1, 2007

“In order to build a great socialist society,” wrote Mao, in his little red book, “it is of the utmost importance to arouse the broad masses of women to join in productive activity.” If we consider the erotic overtones of the English word “arouse”, Chairman Mao’s vision of women’s role sets the scene for Hu … More


Culture in the Age of Howard

May 26, 2004

Culture is not an exclusive game played by artists and their admirers, it is an ongoing conversation within and between communities. It is a meeting place for different arguments and perspectives, an arena in which large and small problems are ventilated. When we speak of ‘cultural progress’, we assume that some resolution or compromise has … More


Art & Politics

January 15, 2003
Mike Parr, Malevich (A Political Arm), performance for as long as possible

There was a period of about a decade, starting from the early-to-mid 1980s, when every major art event had to be accompanied by an extensive series of forums. These talk-fests were often boring, and always inconclusive. Some participants gave the impression of having done no preparation whatsoever, others had written papers of impenetrable, theoretical complexity. … More