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33 Comments • Feb 20, 2014 4741

Sydney Biennale: artists divide over dirty money

Across the nation and in all its representational media, there is a stark conflict on the matter of off-shore detention. There are those, of course, with ideas that exceed the terms of Good and Evil. But, for the sake of brevity, we’ll say there is one primary group that believes that detention is a fact of life that has nothing to do with “us” and another that believes it is a fact of corrupted Australian morality in which we are complicit.

This argument has played out in recent days among Australian artists around the Sydney Biennale taking sponsorship support from Transfield; a company that provides services at detention camps on Manus Island and on Nauru. At meetings in Sydney and in Melbourne, the matter of art’s responsibility to the society that sustains it has made for some fascinating and much frustrating talk. Echoing the ardent national debate — which is not really a debate right now so much as a reflex response to the horror of Manus — artists have divided themselves into the two halves of a single argument.

First proposed by Van Thanh Rudd, a boycott by artists of the Sydney Biennale for its funding by Transfield has been widely discussed.

There are many artists and arts workers who believe that Transfield’s money cannot be ethically taken. There are some others, including Biennale, who champion the autonomy of art.

At a public meeting at the College of Fine Arts in Sydney and one in central Melbourne this week, artists and refugee advocates gathered to talk through the matter of dirty money.

In a better and more theory-heavy version of the national debate accelerated by this week’s events at Manus Island, we see artists and activists on two sides. One conveniently holds the quaint Renaissance view that art is “above” the everyday. The other, and more considered, view resulted in the production of this letter penned by artists participating in the Biennale reminds that art is produced within the sphere of the everyday.

While both views can be ably defended, both of them have been critiqued by a handful of artists who see that one way or another, this is just art’s hopeless striving to make itself pure. Either in believing that purity is art’s “natural” state or in striving to cleanse itself from the perceived filth of Transfield, art just wants nothing to do with the dirty world.

This might seem like a bit of a syllogistic toss until you consider the consequences of each view as it might play out at Biennale; or how other boycotts have played out.

Artist Richard Bell recalls the sporting boycott that led him to produce the 2011 work A White Hero for Black Australia. This painting reproduces the famous Black Power salute made by athletes at the Mexico City Olympic Games. Bell, now 60 and himself a close observer of Australian Aboriginal radical politics, recalls the proposed participation boycott by Black athletes in 1968.

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Richard Bell, ‘A White Hero for Black Australia’ (2011)

Bell, who has participated — with his customary disrespect — in Biennale on previous occasions, does not support this boycott and is glad Black athletes did not support the civil rights boycott in 1968.

They did not boycott and the result was “one of most iconic images in human history, that of Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman on the victory dais.”

“They decided to participate inside the system,” he says. And the system was compromised.

Ian Milliss, artist and activist and a complicated fellow for whom we can find no single descriptor, sees participation within a system as an entirely legitimate site of protest. He finds an account of the artist as someone who cannot hijack capitalism but only be hijacked by it unnecessarily pessimistic. He finds an account of an art festival that can change the world unnecessarily optimistic.

“I tend to see a boycott as just a way of doing nothing and feeling good about yourself for it,” he says. Milliss, who has been following debate about the boycott and attended the public meeting in Sydney, says that the actions proposed are chiefly “about distancing artists from being magically contaminated.”

At the same meeting in Sydney this week, artist Jacquelene Drinkall felt a similar frustration. Drinkall, whose 2012 work saw her endeavour to burn a $20 note in front of a Transfield logo, sees the boycott as something that started off as a valuable discussion and quickly fell into a kind of orthodoxy.

“The great risk of the boycott idea, which has been so useful in pricking the conscience of the art world, is that it adds to that censorship,” she says.

Matthew Kiem, who wrote well and persuasively in The Conversation, is eager to point out that the boycott for which he is advocating is not a form of censorship. Rather, he explains, it is about providing a forum for those refugee voices rarely heard. In email, he suggested I link to a correspondence from the laudable organisation RISE. And it’s a great letter which offers us, as much of the boycott discussion has this week, a chance to think about the cold and rational mechanics of putting people in detention.

But what it does not do, as a boycott cannot do, is hold the real source of all this horror to account.

While Kiem and his colleagues write passionately and well about personal responsibility, they do not write about where responsibility ultimately lays for the horror in off-shore detention. And this is, certainly and demonstrably, with the Australian government.

The boycotters’ approach, as even its most radical critics agree, did spark conversation. And then doused it a day or two later with the talk which reflects the broader progressive response best summed-up in current social media catchcry “Not In My Name”. As though such a bromide can say anything more complex than “it wasn’t me” and “I didn’t do it”.

A boycott not only absolves the art world from responsibility, it situates the responsibility in a particular place. Just as the individual blames a lack of compassion for the horror of Manus Island — and this is a very common critique — the artist can blame Transfield.

But in this instant no one is talking about blaming the government who started the shonky dialogue about “border protection” twenty years ago and who, presumably, would step in to offer more of the dollars it already provides to Biennale.

The boycott, like the social-media protest, will work short-term just, as Milliss has it “to assuage art world feelings of powerlessness or horror”. It will allow artists to feel as though they have done something by doing nothing — not even installing a blank screen with the words “live feed from Manus Island” in a gallery from which they are absent.

In the large world outside art, people commonly mistake a symbolic action for a real one. They can be more easily forgiven for faith in the idea of unmistakable meanings. Artists, however, think a little harder than most when it comes to the instability of symbolic order. They know a gesture or a visual reference or a brush-stroke can be interpreted poorly. That artists suppose this symbolic act will have a social end they can control is evidence they have lost sight of the limits, and the great possibilities, of art.

Read our interview with Sydney Biennale artistic director Juliana Engberg about the boycott

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33 Responses to Sydney Biennale: artists divide over dirty money

  1. Greg says:

    I think the idea of taking Transfield’s money to actually protest against the dirty business that Transfield is engaged in is quite attractive. The BoS provides a stage toward which attention is directed, so providing a platform for actually putting a message across. To my mind, a boycott serves only to provide a null, which will be forgotten more quickly by the greater public, who really should be the target audience for any message or protest. Make it something that can’t be ignored, whether that’s ugly, confronting and loud or something else. But you can’t hold people (the government, vested corporate interests, etc) to account through silence.

  2. greg hoey says:

    Purity exists only in heaven and even there its reserved mainly for the rich.

  3. SydRichAs says:

    This article seems to be saying that boycotting is essentially doing nothing, alleviating artist guilt, a silent and forgettable action… really Crikey? The media and social media across Australia and now internationally has picked up on this issue with major coverage, as much if not more attention than the Biennale would usually get. There are now multiple action groups, meetings, letters, petitions, as well as plans for staged protests, artistic events and actions under way. It already has gathered hundreds of people into action and made a huge impact and the event hasn’t even started yet.

    I’m sorry Helen, but this article is so far up the backside of the very people being targeted, I’m really surprised you would write something as naive as this, you’re usually a more astute writer. To simply support the line oh do it anyway and fight from within, what absolute bullsh*t! If only you knew how these things really work on the inside, how much power these people have over curators and artists, who are simply fodder that occasionally pay off like any other good investment, you and these artists you interviewed would be singing a very different tune.

  4. CP says:

    I don’t see the call to boycott to be about 1. doing nothing, 2. censorship, 3. “a hopeless striving” for purity of art or 4. not holding the real source of the horror of Australia’s border policies to account. Rather, 1. I see that it has been a call to artists, art workers and community members to collectively act and respond to the recent event of Transfield’s contracting of the detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island. It has already generated diverse connections and actions that are building the people’s movement we need to end mandatory detention. 2. A boycott is a form of protest and not counterposed to other forms of protest. The question that we all agree needs to be asked is what is the most effective strategy based on people’s different circumstances. In the case of the Biennale, I see a boycott as one of the strongest forms of protest in that it entails a direct withdrawal of labour and value to the cultural capital provided by the Biennale to Transfield, due to their involvement in mandatory detention.
    Of course there are particular risks for artists in the Biennale. However, I don’t presume to underestimate their convictions on the issue of mandatory detention nor their political agency, as the open letter demonstrated, or their strong interview today with the Daily Review. 3. We all know that art is political, and that we are all implicated in the ugly border-industrial complex. I think it’s patronising to suggest that people that support the boycott are merely being naïve, idealistic or moralistic (or censoring or doing nothing for matter). Rather, the call to boycott identifies an opportunity for meaningful collective action given that our participation in or attendance of the Biennale is now implicated in the detention industry thanks to Transfield. The actions that are now being taken give me hope about what the rest of us can do whatever our own positions and however we are implicated in the detention supply chain. See for example: http://xborderoperationalmatters.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/internment-infrastructure/ 4. It’s not a question of either opposing corporations that run detention centres or the Australian government. And corporations like Transfield are also critical players in the government’s ability to implement its border policies. In order to end Australia’s appalling border policies, we need to keep developing our understanding of the way the border-industrial complex operates and opposing the ways it maintains its hegemony, whether it’s talking about the role of corporations, the Australian government’s payment of security forces (https://newmatilda.com/2014/02/18/whos-policing-manus-island), or the role of racism and nationalism.

  5. ED says:

    “…where responsibility ultimately lays for the horror in off-shore detention. And this is, certainly and demonstrably, with the Australian government.” Is that the only place where responsibility lies? Do we really think politicians just decided to concoct the bullsh*t rhetoric around asylum seekers on a whim, that successive government policies haven’t represented popular sentiment towards the terrifying ‘boat people’? Of course people’s fears have been played off very successfully for political ends, but that doesn’t alter the fact: the asylum seeker policies of the past yonkin’ years have been popular. The call for a boycott of the Biennale has made the biggest noise around refugee rights I’ve heard in a long time. Can you imagine a similar amount of press being written, meetings being held, arguments being had, because some artists wrote a letter saying they were gonna engage with these ideas, individually, from within the Biennale (as, I believe, some artists did at the last Biennale)? I doubt it. And anyway, how was the fight for Civil Rights in the US, to take up your example, won: by a couple of guys giving a Black Power salute on an Olympic podium, or by a massive, co-ordinated mobilisation of social movements, encompassing a diversity of tactics, one of the founding moments of which was a frigging BOYCOTT! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montgomery_Bus_Boycott). I am an artist. Art is (can be) great, moving, inspirational, incendiary. Richard Bell’s artwork is beautiful, but it is, in the end, just a symbol. It’s a powerful symbol of a social movement. Without the movement, the symbol couldn’t have existed in the first place. Maybe that’s why artists’ attempts thus far to create art around the issue of asylum seekers – Deborah Kelly’s ‘Boat People’ work comes to mind – seem to be a bit hollow, a bit, well, naff. Without movement, art is just gestures in a general direction. At worst, there is a question of profiting – financially or in art-world kudos – from the misery of refugees who are still silenced, despite our gestures.

  6. WF says:

    So all three of you above demanding a boycott are in the Biennale and will be boycotting it? Or are you just demanding that other artists should boycott it? I thought so, very brave of you.

  7. ED says:

    WF: I don’t think I ‘demanded’ anything, or claimed that I was taking a ‘brave’ stance? I responded to what I think is an overly simplistic disparagement of the boycott idea in Helen’s article, and pointed out that this sort of discussion would probably not even be happening if a boycott had not been called. Other people who commented above have argued for a ‘diversity of tactics’ far more articulately that I could. My boycott would not be as a participating artist, but as a spectator. But I will not limit my protest to a boycott. I will meet with others, including participating artists, to explore other tactics.

  8. SYDRICHAS says:

    @WF: Of course I am boycotting it. Enjoy your corrupt biennale!

  9. Ian Milliss says:

    ED I have boycotted it for forty years “as a spectator” because it epitomises neo-liberal art as a vacuous internationally tradable commodity with no basis in community. And as such, it is as boring and forgettable as day time television. And I’ll boycott it again this year, but I will not sanctimoniously delude myself that my futile action is doing anything to help asylum seekers. Helping asylum seekers would need hard work, like a campaign to stop Transfield funding the Liberal and Labor parties, ($1 million each last election), at least that would target the real enemies.

  10. dp says:

    This is a great article from Helen Razer because it outlines all the reasons artists should not boycott the Biennale. It’s a mini-manifesto for doing nothing. It reinforces what artists are told over and over again: they have no social currency. It makes us second-guess, hedge our bets, sit on the fence. But belittling the agency and value of the artist is a strategy not an opinion. It’s a strategy for disabling a potent source of resistance in civil society. The fact is artists have massive social currency. If all the artists in the Sydney Bienniale withdrew their art there would be no event. If all the actors at all the major theatre companies decided not to perform this month the companies would fall. Make it industry-wide and the arse would fall out of Brand Australia. The values underlying Razer’s article would probably take you to the rhetorical conclusion: who cares? I say: you’d be surprised. Economically, politically, socially, you’d be surprised. If you just talk to people in your neighbourhood you’ll find it’s not artists people are wary of, it’s the structures they operate in. So contrary to the lie we’ve bought into that that our artwork constitutes our only value, it is the context in which the work is made and presented that represents our greatest value. To us, to the ‘arts industry’, to business and government. Artists need to be directly engaged in creating, controlling and influencing that context. That strikes me as a key imperative of this boycott.

  11. Ian Milliss says:

    So you are saying that it isn’t about helping asylum seekers at all, its all about helping artists? I’d agree with that.

    • Helen Razer says:

      This possibility is what troubled me, Ian, and is what led me—despite my initial positive reaction to the idea of a boycott—to contact you.
      This possibility that this protest is only good for art worries me.
      I understand how the syllogism: We must do something; This is something; Therefore, we must do this, happens. I know and believe that people really want to help. But modifying art orthodoxy ever-so-slightly is a not-very-good something. I really feel that it gives the impression of a “something” having been done when all we really have is redeemed art.

    • dp says:

      Nope. My comments are about their agency in protesting in a context in which they are complicit. Their protest is a valid intervention in a presentation context they obviously feel compromised by. But one is a function of the other, it is not a corollary. They are not using the protest to intervene in the context; they are protesting because they feel deeply about their complicity in showing works in an event sponsored by a company responsible for detaining asylum-seekers. Their action is about them taking an active role in the events in which they feel implicated. They are identifying and acting upon a line of complicity they do not want to cross. And they are doing so by withdrawing their work – not an easy option for an artist today. Hard to see that “it’s all about helping artists”.

  12. Ian Milliss says:

    There were a series of big protests around the 1976 and 1979 Biennales where I was one of the many organisers and where we used pretty much the argument DP uses about the importance of artists having influence over the arts infrastructure. But what we were fighting for was 50% women and 50% Australian content as a ground rule. In that context where the dispute really is about art the argument is completely valid.

    When we had only partial success we followed through by forming the Art Workers Union which functioned until the 1990s when it was amalgamated into the Media Alliance.

    The reason that argument doesn’t wash here is that now the issue is not artists, it’s asylum seekers. In fact I signed the petition out of solidarity with my friends who are in the Bienale but as far as I am aware none of them are actually boycotting it, the move is now more towards publicity, picketing and other ongoing activism – much better tactics .

    But an even better tactic would have been demanding several times more money from Transfield that could be given to refugee support organisations and used in an arts based campaign during the Biennale, to take their dirty money and use it against them.

    • ED says:

      Ian: “But an even better tactic would have been demanding several times more money from Transfield that could be given to refugee support organisations…” If you mean organisations like RISE (Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees) I doubt they would take the money – they support a boycott: http://riserefugee.org/post/76916495599/an-open-letter-to-biennale-of-sydney-artists-from-the. Maybe their position’s a bit deluded, sanctimonious? (I do agree with you on the point that the Biennale is part of the boring, neo-liberal spectacle and worth avoiding on its own [non]merits.)

  13. Thomas says:

    I like the Richard Bell painting.

    And to be faithful to the mural artists in Sydney who took up the same iconic image as “Three proud people” to the SOCOG much earlier in 2000, I want to acknowledge the fantastic art activism of Donald Urquhart, assisted or encouraged by a USA activist Jim Brightwolf (RIP) and possibly another, in Newtown adjacent to the Macdonaldtown rail line back in year 2000.

    I doubt Sydney has seen such brazen and insightful appropriation of public sight lines in the nature of Adbusters journal of the mental environment, at least since the grand daddy murals featuring Martin Luther King’s Dream in King St.

    This clique were also targetting SERCO – and not in a kind way – around then as a contractor at the Opera House before most people know who or what SERCO was.

    Whether Richard Bell was influenced by that mural I don’t know. Due credit I think to those radical muralists.

  14. Elizabeth Freame says:

    Well let’s wait and see if the Biennale is boycotted by the artists involved. I for one think the campaign organised by the artists and supporters has been fantastic – with quite a few international artists in the Biennale also signing the very well framed and reasonable letter to the Biennale. The letter and other communications put out by the artists and supportive art community have consistently made it clear that it is about the refugees, the appalling policies etc., and not about them (the artists).
    I don’t understand why Milliss, Razer, Drinkall and a few other apologists are trying to suck the oxygen out of this campaign. Thankfully you nay-sayers are in the minority. For anyone out there who is confused by this obsfucatory article – please check out the sites on Facebook that are attached to the campaign. There you will see very smart and reasonable rebuttals to the obsfucatory tactics the apologists.

  15. Scott Redford says:

    Richard Bell is our best art example of an Uncle Tom. Richard I respect some of your work but that painting is bad. The drawing is bad. And yet you have set yourself up as the ‘go to artist’ that the Helen Razors of the world bow to. I suppose it’s a living. In the end I personally have decided the debates about art in Australia are so shallow and run by such a small band of people that even participating in the mainstream is untenable. What artists have long failed to see is now so much that art wants to be ‘above’ the world (this was always the case) it’s that those who participate including myself get corrupted and compromised by it. People such as Richard Bell try and use the cover of the plight of Aboriginal peoples but only a small part of what Richard does actually makes a difference. I mean as a gay man living with HIV and further serious complications for over 20 years I could really attack Richard for his open homophobia. I too could play the ‘high moral ground’ card. But to what end? Unless you are rich or well connected in art the art public servants that Richard wants to toady to will just treat you badly. I know. I totally agree with the boycott. I think people should be aggressive in their resistance. I mean my God, it’s only one Sydney Biennale! Those events stopped being interesting decades ago! Let’s face it art and life would be perfectly fine without the Biennale. Better art is found on the streets and You Tube. The protest video about Transfield is one of the best artworks made. Better than the endless cliches pumped out by artists over and over and over. Contemporary art mimicked international Capital totally. Contemporary art floods the world like oil seeping into everything, mimicking everything, commenting on everything but not actually changing anything. Contemporary art seeks out new markets, new territories to co opt, contemporary art gentrifies local communities. We the artists who of course are poor, are used by real estate developers to be the vanguard of such change. Also artists are corralled by Government institutions into exhibitions without proper payment or more likely no payment at all. I’ve done it at high levels for 30 years and I know. Also the curators play the exact power games as the politicians, Juliana Engberg is the worst example of this. On an on and on…it’s over. Art will continue in another form, we don’t need the Biennale that’s the real story here. Contemporary art is over.

    • Philly Slim says:

      The Australian art scene needs voices like Scott Redford. Actually, Scott you need to do your own show, maybe youtube, maybe ABC!!

      The interesting thing for me is that the govt policy is supported by a majority of Australians but a minority (if at all) in the arts world. Are there any non-left contemporary Australian artists? That probably helps the homogeny of much contemporary “political” art.

      I’ve seen another comment on this topic on the web that said seeing a contemporary artist who made a work supporting the govt position would be much more ‘dangerous’ than anything Richard Bell has made. Don’t know what Scott would say but I agree.

    • Helen Razer says:

      Scott. I would suggest that if you are looking to convey “the real story”, then best not to obfuscate it by laying charges of self-loathing, homophobia and bad drawing. It makes you seem like a bitter twit, frankly. and does not serve whatever point it is you have to make.
      And where are these other “Helen Razors” (sic)?
      If you are going to make me a type, then please spell my name correctly. It seems only proper.

  16. Laura Ingalls says:

    Excellent comments!

  17. Tom says:

    I dunno, Helen if such a generalisation about the boycott tactic – that it’s about attaining or pursuing purity – can legitimately be made. In many cases it’s about creating a big, bloody embarrasing mess. There’ll always be follow on effects from a boycott that involve moral compromise – e.g. no proponent of the BDS movement could deny that what they advocate threatens the fragile economy of the West Bank.

    But what’s gonna be the (immediate) effect of any art protest apart from getting chins wagging, feelings hurting and tempers rising? To make an art protest effective, then, you’ve got to target the rights chins, feelings and tempers – and this is going right into the home of the Transfield bosses to try and ensure that THEY can’t feel good about themselves for doing what they’re doing.

    And, btw, I think it’s facile to remind us that responsibility ultimately resides with the Fed Gov’t, because cummon, really – Abbott and Morrison are more likely to turn the National Gallery of Australia into an exhibition of Degenerate Art in than they are to engage in meaningful dialogue with any of these artists.

  18. Jen says:

    This is a bad article by usually politically astute Razer – talking to more than two people involved in this issue might be way to start researching… = ( And it doesn’t make sense, because none of the positions articulated in the article actually contradict participation in the boycott. The boycott which as people have noted, can also mean going to Cockatoo Island to talk about Transfield, making a stir or making art that concerns detention (but it might not be any good – lots of bad detention themed art at this years Biennale would be the outcome of following Razer’s article to its logical conclusion).

    The conclusion that artists who boycott are actually self-interested for wanting to ‘keep their hands clean’ doesn’t make sense. So what if the construction workers on cockatoo island, ticket sellers, or ferry drivers want to boycott? Is that selfish too? A boycott is what an artist and their public can do in lieu of a strike. It would be good if all the people working for free on the island were to participate in the boycott too…to boycott successfully means we’d have to demonstrate the reasons for it, it’s actually a sensible, simple commitment to protesting government policy at the point where it’s implicated in this event. It’s a much more strategic thing to do that another rally, and by the look of the attention it’s already generated, it’s going to be effective. It could be the start of all kinds of actions that deal with the horrible truth that we are involved whether we like it or not, in the government detention policies and that companies that carry them out are ordinary and pervasive in daily life. The art community in Australia is very small, and so are its sponsors, I don’t see why the boycott could not spread to the Opera House, the Sydney Symphony etc, these are all places where middle-class people people go, talking with them about what it means to have the arts funded by the company that runs detention centers would be a start.

    Could the real reason for resistance to the idea of a boycott be that it’s actually a bit scary, as it’s not abstract like a rally directed in the government, it’s close to home?

  19. Mars Drum says:

    “The true measure of the moral level of a society is how it treats the most vulnerable people,” Chomsky says.
    “Few are as vulnerable as those who have fled to Australia in terror and are locked away without charge, their terrible fate veiled in secrecy. We may not be able to do much, beyond lamenting, about North Korean prisons. But we can do a great deal about severe human rights violations right within reach.”

  20. Ben says:

    I would be more interested to hear Helen respond to some (any) of the substantive criticisms of the piece made by a range of commenters than to read snipey orthographic policing. This is a conversation, Helen – are you game to join it?

  21. Andrew Trump says:

    Do those artists who wish to boycott anything that Transfield supports, also wish to boycott anything the Australian Government supports? And will they be returning their OzCo funding? As Helen says, the Australian Government is responsible for refugee policy, not Transfield.

  22. Soraya says:

    Noam Chomsky said we need to ask these questions of a boycott: Will it educate? Will it change policy?

    My view is that what would cause a change in policy would be for Government (Labour and Liberal parties, because they are similarly aligned on this) to see that votes/minds can be won by adhering to Human Rights laws.

    The last election was terribly influenced by the Murdoch Press. I worked in one of their digital news rooms and I saw, first hand, the Editor prevent journalists from running anything regarding refugee rights. One journalist intended a story about a grassroots campaign supporting refugee rights that had gone viral, to which the Editor replied: “We don’t want to endorse that.” By endorse, he meant cover.

    People vote in accordance to personal values and opinions arrived at from sources of information such as the news. If the main source of news (over 70% News Corp) in Australia is running it’s own political agenda (did ANY of Gillard’s policies get the coverage they warranted?), then the capacity of citizens to vote in accordance to their personal values and opinions is compromised. How can you decide when you’ve not been provided the facts?

    My point is a bit of a winding path, but I arrive at the question of what will influence votes/minds and therefore policy? I am not sure a boycott will reach Government. It has the potential to educate, but as mentioned in Razor’s article, education can come from within the system as much as from outside it and the former can be as powerful. What I do think is that addressing the issue of a hugely biased, unapologetically hateful media (News Corp) that doesn’t report on major events such as the Light The Dark vigils for Reza Berati as Editorial policy, has the potential to sway public opinion to become more aligned with reality/humanity and less aligned with fear/brutality.

    Votes are based upon personal value and opinions which are informed by the information available/disseminated.

  23. Humphrey Bower says:

    The participation of black athletes in the Mexico Games is an absurd analogy with accepting sponsorship from Transfield. Perhaps if there were some asylum seekers exhibiting at the Biennale the analogy would have some merit. Otherwise the ‘symbolic act’ of boycotting the Biennale is an effective form of political protest by artists – like all forms of political protest. I would call it an act of conscientious objection. It has nothing to do with artistic ‘purity’ – on the contrary. Helen, this is Orwellian doublespeak, pure and simple.

  24. […] associated with detention centres. However the criticism from commentators on the left such as Helen Razer, and artists of various political stripes, fails to recognise […]

  25. Biennalist says:

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR IMPORTANT WORK !!

    If artists start to boycott Biennales (like Sydney Biennale ) connected to breaking human rights,
    soon it wont be any Biennales left !!!
    http://www.emergencyrooms.org/biennalist.html
    http://biennalist.blogspot.dk/2014/03/if-artists-start-to-boycott-biennales.html

    THE ARTIST OF TODAY AWARRE OF THE EMERGENCIES
    SHOULD NOT QUESTION THE CANVAS ANYMORE
    BUT THE BIENNALES AND OTHER FONDATIONS OF THE ART WORLD

    “THE EMERGENCY WILL REPLACE THE CONTEMPORARY”

    check also
    THE NEXT DOCUMENTA SHOULD BE CURATED BY A TANK about documenta Kassel and proximity of weapon industry :
    http://www.emergencyrooms.org/documenta_kassel.html

    Author of the Month @ ZKM Museum Karlsruhe
    http://www.globalartmuseum.de/site/guest_author/325

    Can an Art Show Like dOCUMENTA Be Dangerous ?

    Biennalist ( Istanbul / Venice // Manifesta / Sydney / Athens / Berlin )
    artists questioning Biennales intentions including work on gentrification , colonialism , connection with weapon industry
    http://www.emergencyrooms.org/biennalist.html

    SYDNEY BIENNALE “DO ARTISTS KNOW THE AIM OF THEIR SPONSORS ?”
    by Biennalist 2010
    ( academy Emergency Art Sydney )
    http://biennalist.blogspot.dk/2014/02/sydney-biennale-do-artists-know-aim-of.html

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