All that is missing from Gladwell’s imagery is a large monolith and some token Aboriginals with a spear and shield. Vernon Ah Kee rises from the pages of The Australian to create an interesting debate with his ‘Commissioner’: “The problem with art produced and retailed through art centres – if you want to call it art – is that the artists don’t understand their role … I’m talking about the narrow definition of Aboriginal art that the people in remote communities live up to, to their own detriment.” [The article suggested that Ah Kee believes “…it’s important for Aboriginal artists to understand that art in Western culture is a commodity, and the art market an industry that runs like a well-oiled machine. The artist’s role is to work within that system to create exceptional art.” “Ah Kee will be showing a video in which an Aboriginal surfer appears like a new-age warrior, skimming the waves on a board transformed into a weapon, with the bright markings of a shield from the rainforest region of north Queensland.”
Sitting in the catalogue between Ah Kee, an aboriginal artist with Chinese heritage, and Ken Yonetani, an Australian who recently immigrated from Japan, is Felicity Fenner’s essay, where she tells us “…a politically-led reassessment of Australia’s place in the world has resulted in a surge of interest…in Aboriginal art, and a new Australian preparedness to engage with the cultures of neighbouring Asian and Pacific nations.” What was Doug Hall saying about cultural diplomacy and heavy-handed political messages? With the selection of work that has “… a ‘brand personality’ that has characteristically Australian qualities of being down-to-earth and accessible,” all we need is an environmental message about the Great Barrier Reef, and Ken Yonetani delivers it.
Category: Blog ,