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  1. #41

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    From my travels in Europe I've got the sense that the arts- whether mainstream or fringe (however you want to define either)- have more presence in people's lives there than they do in Australia. Mind you, this is a perception, not any kind of evidence-based assessment and probably not grounded in reality.

    I think there is still a strong anti-intellectualism in Australia, however when you get down to the grass-roots amazing things happen. Community arts organisations, small theatre companies touring to schools, regional galleries, photo biennales and such like all do amazing work, however the commentators who have power over the media and/or the budgets often dismiss these activities or ignore them. There is a belief that art=opera/ballet/oil-on-canvas still, but real creative activity is much wider and is more inclusive. I don't want to dismiss opera/ballet etc, in fact I worked for the Australian Ballet last year, but the message that art is wider and more interesting and less 'elitist' (I hate that word) isn't getting out there.

    The way the arts are communicated and the way they actually exist in the real world are two different things. I think that's the core of it.

    John.

  2. #42
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    Hmmm. I've just got back from a few days in Adelaide, where I spent an afternoon in the State Art Gallery. There wasn't a single photograph exhibited anywhere, despite the fact that the gallery has an extensive collection. When I raised the matter with a member of staff I was given the feeble excuse that "they're too delicate to have on permanent display." Bollocks. There are centuries-old textiles, tapestries, Greek ikons and other fragile objects in environmentally-controlled cabinets, but no, not a single photo. I've written to the Curator of Photography on previous occasions about the same thing. She's never bothered to reply. What a different story when I wrote to her equivalent at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. She couldn't have been more helpful and they have constantly-changing displays of their photographic collection. Is this just a South Australian thing? What are other regional experiences?

  3. #43
    MDR
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    Just went to the State Gallery Homepage and saw that they had a photo exhibition earlier this year (Tracy Moffat), as well as last year (Candid Camera Australian Docu. Photography 1950's to 70's) so they do show photographs but don't put them on permanent display which is the right decision from a conservatory point of view. I work part time in a museum (with a photo collection my work place) and we rarely show photographs for longer than 2 months with a maximum illumination of 50lx. The Exhibition of the department I work in constantly changes one time watercolours, then waxmodels, then photographs, etc... but never longer than 2 to maximum 3 months.

    Dominik

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDR View Post
    Just went to the State Gallery Homepage and saw that they had a photo exhibition earlier this year (Tracy Moffat), as well as last year (Candid Camera Australian Docu. Photography 1950's to 70's) so they do show photographs but don't put them on permanent display which is the right decision from a conservatory point of view. I work part time in a museum (with a photo collection my work place) and we rarely show photographs for longer than 2 months with a maximum illumination of 50lx. The Exhibition of the department I work in constantly changes one time watercolours, then waxmodels, then photographs, etc... but never longer than 2 to maximum 3 months.

    Dominik
    Certainly, I understand the need to constantly change displays of photos. But I've never seen any of the SA Gallery permanent collection on show and I think that's a great pity. IMHO it's important for the general public (which after all pays for the Gallery and everything in it) to get a sense of the history of photography in Australia and an appreciation of the subjects people have found worth photographing over the years. Yes, they can see some of that in books and catalogues but nothing beats looking at the real thing. I'll continue to pester away at this in the hope that one day they'll do something about it.

    Incidentally, I saw that Candid Camera exhibition and heard Robert McFarlane's lecture. It was really wonderful. I want more. We get starved of such high quality photographic exhibitions here. As Nina Simone once sang, I want more, more and then some!
    Last edited by lesm; 12-12-2011 at 06:25 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #45
    MDR
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    State would be Vienna Austria not in Australia but we have the same phenomena here as well, the public and the TV are less interested in Art than in sports. I once had to find sponsors for an Artproject and was told by a large international corporation that they were forbidden to sponsor art events and art and that they were only allowed to sponsor sportevents. The funny thing is that Austria mostly lives from it's Habsburg past and it's cultural heritage but the money goes to sports mostly to football (very bad team) not even Ski (good team). And I fully agree with your sentiment that the public has to see the real thing and get a sense of history. In fact until 1945 Austria was one of the leading countries in developing photographic technology and art but the public either doesn't know or doesn't care about it. Show Ansel Adams and people will flock to the exhibition show Rudolf Koppitz and nobody will come.

    Dominik

  6. #46
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    That's really surprising, Dominik. I was in Vienna back in the 1970s and I was stunned by the magnificence of the art on public display (as well as the magnificence of the cakes!). Sad that it's slid so far. It was one of the truly sophisticated and civilized cities of the world.

  7. #47
    MDR
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    There still is a lot of culture in Vienna just not many viennese visitors. We have a lot of Galleries a few specialising in photography like Johannes Farber. But for example the ex head of the photography department of the Albertina left the institution because she felt that photography was underappreciated and they have one of the best photography collections in the world. The Wien Museum often has photo exhibtions, the dilemma in Austria isn't the lack of cultural institutions (with few exceptions) but the lack of interest from the Austrian public which equals lack of interest from companies (including Broadcast) and lack of founding by the state. Most museum visitors are trourists. There's a joke in Austria People visit the museum 3 times in their life the first time on Christmas Eve with their Grandmother (taking care of the children while their parents prepare the gifts) the second time with school and the third time as Grandparents. A single football games has between 4 000 and 25 000 spectators, there are a quiet a few museums and galleries that don't reach that number over the course of whole year. You still can get magnificent cakes at Demel and the Hotel Imperial.

    Dominik

  8. #48

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    Ha! Come to Australia where a single football game can attract 100,000 people. That said, the 'statistics' say that more people attend 'the Arts' than sport, but that includes attending cinemas and libraries. Maybe we need to a new definition- the challenging arts, perhaps.

    John.

  9. #49

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    The NSW Sate Art Gallery in Sydney has regular exhibitions - the Tracey Moffat one which was a travelling show - and earlier there was a retrospective of Jeff Carter's work which was very well done. Also saw an exhibition of significant Sydney buildings a while back. Only problem was they ran out of the accompanying books for the Jeff Carter exhibition and the publisher (to whom the Carters sold the rights some time ago) seems totally disinterested in another print run, nor will they allow the family to reclaim the rights and do a private printing. There are a lot of us with our names on a waiting list!
    Then we have the Australian Photographic Centre in Paddington which puts on regular exhibitions of current photographic work, and courses courses, and the National Gallery in Canberra which seems to mount a couple of exhibitions each year.
    So maybe it is a Sth Aus thing?
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  10. #50
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    We had our monthly film-nerds meeting in Adelaide last night, at which the matter of exhibitions came up. Quite apart from the fact that several of our regulars do an exhibition or three each year, there are apparently some excellent exhibitions on at the moment, including Bill Henson.

    There seems to be a distinct "arts community" that is quite separate from and invisible to the general community. Plenty of interesting stuff happens but it's a closed incestuous little world with no exposure to the broader population who'd rather just go see the footy or (if they consider themselves photographers) shoot models. Plenty of interesting stuff is on, you just need to know the right people and venues.

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