A couple of ironies strike me. I am not at …

Comment on National Aboriginal Art Gallery: Anzac Oval off the table by Mark Wilson.

A couple of ironies strike me. I am not at all surprised re the lack of adequate consultation of the key stake-holders: the Indigenous custodians of this place and indeed more widely the council and people of Alice. To many white fellas art is as much about the space, the buildings and galleries in which it is displayed. The facilitators imagine the end product and want to shortcut the process. Hence the current priorities. The public flock to The Guggenheim Museum, The Met, The Tate etc with many unaware of the works displayed therein. These spaces becomes their own destination much like MONA (with emphasis) OUTSIDE Hobart. Perhaps The Louvre is an exception as the well known home of the famous Mona Lisa.
On the other hand Indigenous visual art was historically completed in caves and overhangs, on bodies, on barks, on carved stumps and as petroglyphs carved into rocks and even in the temporal sands of Central Australia. It was not hoarded into purpose built spaces. Cultural artefacts are now regarded as ‘art’. I wonder if the ancient Indigenous saw them as any more than fish traps, mats, spears and burial chambers etc. Art was as much the process, the ceremony, as the product. But white fellas tend to worship the product.
This brings me to the second irony that follows a posteriori from above. What exactly will we put in such an “iconic gallery” with the NTG acquisitions policies recently on display? Or is the building itself sufficient? Late last year the NTG I understand didn’t even bother to bid for the most significant art work by Emily Kngwarreye from Utopia that at auction sold overseas. The piece is questionably on par with Pollock’s Blue Poles, but without the controversy. I have seen Kngwarreye compared with Monet. The piece sold for a ‘mere’ $2.1m and is the record sale of an artwork by an Australian woman. Surely it is iconic works like these that will be needed in an “iconic” gallery to entice tourists to the middle of Australia, a long, expensive flight from everywhere with ho-hum equally expensive (by international standards) accommodation to greet them. Anyone who believes Alice accommodation is of world standard simply hasn’t travelled.

Mark Wilson Also Commented

National Aboriginal Art Gallery: Anzac Oval off the table
Indeed Maya. Places and objects, even art pieces become iconic. They are not born that way. Easter Island and Stonehenge come to mind.
It is the Court of Public Opinion, that is often heavily influenced by aspects of the aesthetic and uniqueness that determines the “iconic” nature.
These are as much established, even legitimised, by “experts”, even self appointed media ones, who make or break an object or place’s status.
To set out to build an iconic structure is a task fraught with problems from the outset.

Recent Comments by Mark Wilson

Heat rises on cooling plan
Look hard enough and it’s possible to find a report opposing any project.
I believe the Mayor’s heat mitigation deserves a trial. Bath Street is as good as anywhere, planted not too close to corners.
The “clear zone” is an issue but I wonder if it is a serious issue in the 40kph zoning area.
Choose the right native species like kurrajongs that set deep roots and monitor road damage.
Surely trees planted on the curb also risk road damage but we do proceed in that direction already.
Perhaps citizens may wish to adopt a local tree and nurture it through the first few years.
Expensive irrigation shouldn’t be necessary with council attention.
Sadly school kids adopting trees and median strips probably shouldn’t mix.

Tourist perished: Has Coroner’s recommendation been followed?
It seems that Monika Billen was used to walking alone off track. Clearly she was not familiar with the conditions here in high summer.
The bottom line is that people are in the first instance responsible for themselves.
People are free to ignore recommendation if they choose.
But, yes, some processes could be set in place to minimise the dangers both high summer and winter. Accommodation venues could ask guests if they plan to walk in the region. Backpacks are a sure telltale as guests leave their lodgings.
Then they could be issued a leaflet in one of several languages outlining safety precautions and the dangers. Far better is a personal discussion of the dangers. An emergency beacon could be rented for a very modest cost and added to the accommodation charge.
As a frequent trail walker overseas I appreciate how confusing navigating by the sun can be in the other hemisphere to the one you are familiar.
Add to that that the sun is so high in the sky at this latitude that around midday navigating by sun becomes very difficult.

Suddenly everyone is talking about 1Territory
The NT is way too small a jurisdiction and the resulting small number of elected MLAs in government to really be across the multiple portfolios that each minister carries.
As a result the ministry is largely controlled by senior “Yes Minister” bureaucrats beyond reach of the Parliament and the voters. When it all goes belly up it’s the minister who carries the responsibility.
But unlike previous times they rarely “fall on their sword”. It just carries on until (often sensationalist) media brings the issues to the fore and then it becomes damage control time. This is what we have seen in recent days.
Braedon Earley speaks a lot of sense. Can he bring fiscal responsibility back to the NT is the question?
Let’s hope someone can before they send in the administrators.
Are these the guys who want statehood? Really?

Former gallery advisor scathing about its planners
“It is a bizarre idea doing a business plan before someone has even started resolving what the issues are,” says Mr Lynch. Exactly my argument in my last letter on the topic in another thread.
And yes, Domenico, I have previously lamented here the loss of the Emily Kngwarreye work overseas when the sale occurred.
We may end up with a building looking for those crowd-pulling paintings and unable to afford to buy them back. This is yet more “planning” by NTG.
(Still) watching in amazement …

Aboriginal gallery: rushed business case yet immediate start?
Does the new gallery have to operate as a business, turn a profit or be subsidised forever (the business plan should tell us)?
What on earth is Ernst and Young doing writing the business case anyway?
Yes, I know their website says “(we are) committed to building a better working world” blah blah blah. With apologies to the Lions I bet Ernst and Young could make a business case to hold an ocean regatta in the Todd if pressed.
I recall the business model for the Desert Park was to have it open nightly till around 9 from memory. Not sure when that all disappeared into fairy dust.
We keep watching in total amazement.

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