Saturday, September 01, 2007
I'm not one to linger on sexual politics. I have no agenda or a gender - The Artswipe is free of such constraints. Apolitical you could say. People into sexual politics need to get laid more. "Don't speak," I always say when conversation turns to third wave feminism, "Just feel." Not so long ago, the artkids used to chant, "Fuck politics, lets dance". These days, I look for a lover with a slow hand, Pointer Sisters style.
One thing I will say as a coda to Artswipe's previous post about gender in all its complex statistical banality: it remains important to this day to always know whether to leave the toilet seat up or down. And art journalists more than anyone should respect this simple etiquette by at least investigating the gender of their subjects. Sometimes you can tell because a woman artist might have two protruding mounds emanating (for want of a better term) from her chest. A male artist might have a "bulging canvas," as they say in the classics. And then there's the "third sex" - all those queers and diasporicals. That's another story for another time.
The point of this post. Unlike John McDonald, I might not be the hugest fan of the Aida Tomescu canvas. Tomescu features in McDonald's book Studio: Australian Painters on the Nature of Creativity, reviewed elsewhere at Artswipe. I suspect old McDonald owns one of her paintings and is hoping his endorsement in today's Sydney Morning Herald article might manifest their value fourfold. A case in point:
Tomescu has grown in confidence, becoming much more certain of her artistic certainty. It is the kind of self-revelation that some people seek in psychoanalysis, or a radical change of lifestyle, but for Tomescu the entire drama has enfolded within the confines of the studio. It is not a process that allows for detailed descriptions, just as paintings resists verbalisation.
OK. McDonald mentions her "studio" again. Get over it. All artists have studios - not just the artists he cites in that banal book. As for the reference to psychoanalysis and "radical change of lifestyle" - thank you for pointing out the tenets of bourgeois boredom once more. Finding psychoanalytic solace in art went out with Art & Text. As for radical change of lifestyle? See Andrew Frost's brilliant article elsewhere in the Herald called "If the artists are young the reception is cool". It is here you will find artists who have a lust for life, a zesty yet critical take on "change" and "lifestyle" without being concerned with something regarded as so "radical" as to be perceived as a bit Mick Jagger in reality.
Apart from being chuffed big time that Mr Frost cites The Artswipe as one of the blogs that tries to "pick up the slack" due to the lack of artist-driven publications produced in Australia, I'm also aware that there is a subtle jibe in placement here (being that Frost's article appears some eight pages after McDonald's). You see, Frost laments that emerging art culture in Australia is as ephemeral as the young careers that loom large but sometimes peter out, due perhaps to intensified mental strain - which is all well if you can afford psychoanalysis! But alas, on Centrelink payments, not many of us can afford the Herald, let along a Freudian couchtrip. As Frost points out referring to a hypothetical pup of the artworld, "our esteemed art critics probably wouldn't have liked their work."
So who are these "esteemed critics" Frost speaks of?
Not knowing how to answer that slippery question (ie you do the math) I think it best to turn the question back to my original concern: gender, the arts and journalism. (Can you tell from my subtle yet meandering logic that I was high school debating champion?) That aside, for all my criticism of John McDonald, bless his soul, at least he recognises Aida Tomescu is a woman. Herald journalist Tracey Clement - champion of young artists everywhere, unlike some - for some inexplicable reason, has taken Tomescu's "bulging canvas" literally. As you can see below in Clement's Metro Picks (SMH Metro 31 August 07), Tomescu has man-morphed. But that's OK. Clement was too busy checking out everything in the artworld - not just some "mini-goats-cheese-pizza-East-Sydney-art-studio-crawl" - that she assumed for a moment that whatever might be McDonald fodder could actually be anything but male.