A fascinating article by Nicolas Rothwell on the shifting of the Aboriginal art industry out of Alice Springs, looking primarily at Papunya Tula and Desart:
But the contours of the central Australian art world map are changing fast in the wake of sweeping new governmental programs and interventions. Extraordinary initiatives to exploit Aboriginal art as a force for economic progress are under way; the campaign to clean out the shadier reaches of the painting trade in Alice Springs is at its crescendo. Paradoxically, though, the town’s art scene is becoming more, not less, anarchic as these blueprints and control mechanisms bite.
Ioannou’s blueprint is for a conventional art studio, open to all desert artists, open, also, to government audit, with a strong advisory board, tailored residential arrangements and a renal dialysis unit on-site. The fulfilment of this plan will complete the march of private dealers into the heart of the desert marketplace and round out the transformation of the art map of Alice Springs.
A surreal new topography, scarcely evident from the town centre and its grand cultural facades. It is increasingly hard, on looking across the streetscape with its well-masked secrets, not to feel that the institutional system here was framed to marshal and channel the strange, elusive tides of desert Aboriginal culture, and that desert people have gradually subverted that system, played its different elements off against each other and reshaped its architecture to their own design.
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