Thursday, May 30, 2013

Between the Devil and a Shark Infested Sea.

I noticed on the news some photographers were bitterly complaining they'd been excluded from the Vivid Festival strobing out the front of the Museum of Crap Art down at Circular Quay, some international artists shocked and surprised that there was such a thing as "CENSORSHIP" in Australia. Surprise, surprise! Welcome to the club!

This is an extremely conservative country, run by an elite who want the masses kept ignorant, little or no information of facts and truths to be leaked out, the wealth concentrated in a few cronies' hands, the continent to be a mining camp, a military base, a prison island, (for the poor) and a sheep farm, (us being most of the sheep.) Oh yeah, and a consumer product test market. There's nothing wrong with all the above I guess, social security's gotta be paid for somehow, though it's a pity it's all based on wage slavery, but don't forget, a diversified 'artistic culture' underpins an economy and keeps it thriving. (Of course, I'm just taking the piss, Auz is a great place to raise a family, to earn a living, to visit as a tourist, it's just a tough place to be a free-thinking artist.)

The banned photos were quite innocuous, scenes of ecological destruction from bush-fires and floods. Imagine what happens to artists here who dare to pull no punches with their critique. At worst they're bumped off, driven to suicide, at best they never work in their chosen field again, this harsh fact driven home to me in the documentary "Shadow of Liberty" where global news organizations are concentrated in a few hands and in league with a govt. THEY helped put in power, and we the people are told lies, non-news, half-truths to befuddle us, and anyone who goes against them gets fucked.

Artists are between a rock and a hard place, the media monopolies and the Establishment: Art in Australia is mostly controlled by the government, it funds the art-schools, all major art galleries, the arts grants, the festivals, all of it closely monitored, as if art can be a revolutionary force that must be nipped in the bud. With the lowest common denominator in blandness one must pass muster with the apparatchiks guarding the doors to all the citadels of shit, sucking up to experts who know perfectly well what doesn't rock the boat, like the meaningless crap that fills most of the MCA. (The Koori bark paintings are what's worthwhile there, PC ever the criterion.) I cringe at having to be nice to the little beige bureaucats who get a few hundred grand a year to lord it over artists but still think they're hip; yes, even old rock-stars can climb the shit-heap, grow mouldy, conservative, and get to run a Vivid Festival that should now be called Livid, considering those artists complaints. To the poor put-upon public, ART is what they're told it is, they scratch their heads and think, "Oh well, They're the experts, who are we to question this nonsense."

 I know I'm a contradiction, if THEY waved a few thousand bucks at me I'd go running, such is the desperation of poverty. Still the whole arts set-up here makes me sick. The world burns and They want arse-wipes to hang on their precious walls. I'm spitting chips like this because obviously I can't crack those snooty bureaucats and much of my work has been 'disappeared'. Two of my murals were on squat walls and those building were eventually knocked down and this I accept as natural attrition in a shifty city.

What I'm livid about and don't accept is the disappearance/destruction of my Woolloomoolloo mural, "Enjoy Smack Cold", not only was it scathing towards the Hawk Labour Govt's. mining and selling of Uranium, but also that talking dildo Peter Carrot and his band Midnight Soil stood in front of it for their video clip "The Power and the Passion", which incidentally has also disappeared from the airwaves, not seen on TV since he joined the Labour Govt as a minister. Nukes have won, it's a fait accompli, the world needs 'clean energy', yeah, yeah, yeah, but an oppositional dialectic like mine gets destroyed: my effort is as good as any other arsehole's pro-govt. suck, that's my gripe. Not only Nazis burn books and forbid decadent art.

For all my complaints to the curators concerned, the public still can't access my posters online in the print collection at the National Gallery Canberra, such as the "Jail News" poster above; maybe the subject matter is just too tough, maybe the authorities hope to revise history, pretend such scabrous protests don't happen? My animated film, "The Thief of Sydney" has been lauded all around the world, it's as good as any of the "video art" mindlessly flashing inside the MCA but would I ever get a showing there? Not on your fucking life! It's anti-uranium and anti-nuclear, suggesting the industry feeds the global proliferation of nuclear arms. But worse than this, it has a go at a certain media mogul, calling him the Turd Doc, Emperor of Sydney, who hypnotically gazes down upon a hapless public from a giant wall-screen and announces, "You too can join ELITE" under which my protagonist graffittis, "Krap!" As far as Sydney goes, I'll never eat a good lunch in this town again.

I'm old now, and very, very tired, and I can't be fucked anymore, for the 21st time in my life I'm giving up art, my work was probably no good anyway. The media tyrants, the pallid bureaucrats, the hungry entrepreneurs, it's like swimming in a shark infested sea and I'm floundering. Yesterday I had a meeting with some well-meaning businessmen on Kings Cross, they want Lane Kelly Place beautified with a wall mural, too many shops are for lease and they need to draw the crowds back somehow. I was pumped for ideas and told the Council would cough up the cost of materials but sadly, there was no money to actually pay the artist, it was to be a "community effort", possibly work for the dole slave labour. Always, always, no money for the artist, unless I'm the celebrated Banksy, then I could ask for millions. For free they got out of me great ideas for the design, will probably in the end give the job to some bland but safe fuckwit and in the meantime I'll starve.

This picture was banned from hanging in the foyer of the Sydney City Council's Office in Kings Cross.

The other night I went to the opening of another of the Head On photographic exhibitions, this one by Glen Lokhitch, action photos from the Sea Shepherd's successful campaign in the southern ocean to stop the Japanese from slaughtering whales. Now these were great photos with heartfelt purpose. The show was opened by Peter Fitzsimmons who gave a rousing speech how pictures can lend punchy import and inspiration to any campaign; for all the rhetoric, it's only when you see the whales bleeding or the wilderness before and after destruction that it it hits home what is actually going down. The next morning Peter was featured on page 3 in the Daily Terror in a piece of character assassination, he'd gotten drunk at some fund-raiser and ate a cracker from someone's plate, big deal. Very few are brave enough to stand up for what they believe in and risk the wrath of the Turd Doc and co.

 The documentary, "The Shadow of Liberty", warned that without an open-access media, democracy was doomed, and that the last bastion of free speech, the Internet, was in danger of also becoming corporatized, commercialized, constrained and censored. Up to now I've only had this Blog as my space to tell my story, to have my say in  response to all the shit being published/broadcast around me, but this too may fall into the dustbin of history if the media moguls get their way, no independent voices to be heard, no alternative views to be aired. But before that happens I will sweat out the Punk Poofy Cat's manifesto in cyberspace, get it in hard-copy and somehow distributed, for good or bad, a freak's story, something different to contrast with the conformist norm; I'll struggle on, to stay alive and finish those "1001 Outsider's Nights", how the above artworks and events got realized, and how Arthur, the arty-farty fairy, finally got the enlightenment he long sought.

If you enjoyed this story please go to the WEB address above and consider buying my book of tales about growing up anarcho-queer, rock and roll punter and mystic adventurer in Australia and India of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.