Screen Test # 1(Americana), 2008
c-type photograph on alluminium, 1400mm x 1000mm
Courtesy the artist and Chalkhorse
Who would have thought the Bill Henson scandal would in fact turn out to be such a red hot scandal? Every single party I attended at the weekend (I was invited to at least a dozen) was aflutter with the news. One person told me she would not speak about it as she had vowed "not to give it power". I took my hat off to her and we had a healing moment together. Every news channel was buzzing and I couldn't get enough. Even Rudd had his say! Oh dear, does this mean art will start becoming micromanaged by the media watchdogs? Has a precedent been set by Henson, whereby contentious artworks, no matter how potentially dull, will always come under the scrutiny of the moral majority? It's not as if this hasn't happened before - art scandals are a periodic affair. But never before has an Australian Prime Minister chucked in his two cents. Or at least that I know of.
But to leave your Monday morning on a brighter note, here is my favourite moment from the Henson media coverage. On Friday evening (23 May 2008) a commercial news network (I forget which one) covered the closure of the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery opening on Thursday night (22 May) by including comment from an artist who was there during the shut down. The artist was John A. Douglas and he said something about the closure being an outrage. What made it funny was they wrote his name on screen as "John MacDonald".
Postscript: John A Douglas, who was interviewed at The Art Life recently, emailed The Artswipe today and said:
Let me tell you that a precedent has been set - it was the first time I had gone to try and look at some work (yes I said to the media his work is actually a bit passe and boring) and been attacked by a media scrum. Basically some guy gave me the wrong info and said that he and the gallery had been charged. In hindsight I think they wanted to get a reaction and i was it. I turned around and suddenly all the cameras were on me (without my consent) as they couldn't get a word from the gallery. I can tell you it was art history 101 to the media - they must have thought I was John McDonald which shows how fucking moronic these guys are.