Wednesday, October 13, 2010



I know I'll catch shit for this, but I'm supporting indigenous protesters in Australia who temporarly shut down an art exhibit which was far more than offensive. 

The protesters said the images portray the denigration of Aboriginal people and are highly offensive.

The protesters forced the temporary closure of an exhibition of paintings at the Wollongong City Gallery. The exhibition, called No Country For Dreaming, is by nine-times Archibald finalist Paul Ryan.

No, I haven't a clue as to what an Archibald finalist is and I don't much care either.

The CEO of the Illawarra Aboriginal Land Council, Sharralyn Robinson put it rather simplye to Australian Broadcasting Network (ABC), "I don't find anything humorous about an Aboriginal boy hanging from a tree and the title saying, 'the local boys just seem to be hanging around all day."

Ryan says the exhibit is really meant to be critical of Australia's past treatment of its indigenous population.  To his benefit, I suppose, he has offered to meet with and apologise to people affected by the works.  On the other hand, he has also said he isn't in the least repentant about his exhibit.

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be thrilled with an art exhibit which featured colorful depictions of my relatives taking their last breaths while being gassed in the "shower stalls" of this or that lovely camp.

Sharralyn Robinson
I know about defending the rights of artists and all that, but come on, what about the rights of others...this isn't sex or religion were worrying about here, this is GENOCIDE.

How about a nice art exhibit of African Americans women being raped by white slave owners, or maybe we could have one of American Indians pictured dying in the last stages of small pox.  Of course, we could add some snappy little titles to the paintings, something catchy.

I guess I'd say let the galleries put up what they want, let the artists paint what they want, and support the people protesting however they want...and we'll see what happens.

But then what do I know.  I am not an artist. Everything I paint looks something like a turtle...and my wife once suggested selling everything in the Philadelphia art museum to help the poor of the city.

What a quaint notion.

The following is from the Illawarra Mercury.

Uproar over Paul Ryan's paintings

14 Oct, 2010 04:00 AM
The Illawarra's indigenous community has condemned a Wollongong art exhibition as showcasing derogatory and sexually explicit paintings of Aborigines during European settlement.

Award-winning Thirroul artist Paul Ryan's new exhibition at Wollongong City Gallery, No Country for Dreaming, has been slammed as "offensive" by prominent indigenous leaders Richard Davis and Sharralyn Robinson.

They say the nature of the paintings and accompanying titles, including the use of the word "abo" in one, are disturbing and hurtful to their people.
Public outcry led to the temporary closure of the exhibition on Tuesday afternoon, but it was re-opened to the public yesterday.

One of the images shows an Aboriginal man's body hanging from a tree, titled "The local boys just seem to hang about all day".

A painting of an English officer holding the head of an Aborigine is captioned "Dearest mummy, having a jolly good time here in australia, the food's appalling but the hunting's first class. wish you were here, arthur."

Another image that has caused an outcry depicts an Aboriginal man seemingly performing a sex act on an English officer.

The painting is titled "Taking a shine to the locals".

Ms Robinson, chief executive of the Illawarra Aboriginal Land Council, said she had been alerted to the exhibition by members of the indigenous community, prompting her to visit the gallery on Tuesday afternoon.

"I was horrified with what I saw and deeply offended," she said.
"I can't believe the gallery would allow such an exhibition to hang."

Mr Davis said there was outrage in his community.

"We're disgusted that this type of work is in a public gallery.
"How can that be considered art?" he said.

Wollongong MP Noreen Hay said Mr Ryan should have consulted with the indigenous community and not proceeded in exhibiting the works without their endorsement.

But Mr Ryan, speaking to the Mercury yesterday from Bali, said the titles were "deliberately and overtly ironic" to highlight the "violent nature" of Australia's colonial past.

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