2 November 2016

Melbourne Cup 2016: Our compulsory day of distraction | The Guardian

AUSTRALIA'S compulsory day of distraction is again upon us as they line up on Tuesday for the 156th running of the $6.2m Melbourne Cup, the world’s richest handicap and in recent years the subject of scandal, intrigue, tragedy and even feminist fanfare. Once-a-year punters are scouring the form guide, pins poised, hoping to fluke another 100-1 pop like last year’s Prince of Penzance. The professional punters meanwhile are prepping for their most lucrative payday of the year, when the huge betting pools are awash with mug money and “the overs” are theirs for the picking.

 Read the full article at The Guardian

5 July 2016

Australian Federal Election, 2016

3 November 2015

Melbourne Cup 2015: Our Cup runneth over...

Held under the dark clouds of drugs, corruption and drive-by shootings, this year's Melbourne Cup turned out to be even beyond the horses. A history-making winner and her family showed us racing's capacity to be inclusive, accepting and empowering, writes Michael Hutak.

Did the Australian turf just get the shot in the arm it so desperately needs? Racing showed its human face this afternoon, as Michelle Payne became the first woman to ride the winner of racing's godhead, when she saluted on Prince of Penzance with one of the great the Melbourne Cup rides. In a complete boilover, bookies got the lot as the 100-1 outsider from the bush overcame the world's best thoroughbreds to write the proverbial fairytale in this 155th running of the event.

But it wasn't the race that won the crowd's heart; it was what happened directly after, as Payne and Prince of Penzance were led back to scale by the horse's strapper, her brother "Stevie". The joyous display by Steven, who has Down's syndrome, leading his history-making sister back to scale, were indelible images of a racing game that despite all the problems it faces, has a capacity to be inclusive, accepting, and empowering.

13 April 2011

Punters pant for MoMA's De Kooning retro

NEED an excuse to visit New York this year? Look no further than the eagerly-awaited Willem De Kooning (1904-97) retrospective at MoMA opening in this September. Incredibly, this is the first major museum exhibition to encompass the full scope of De Kooning’s sixty year career, bringing together more than 200 works from public and private collections, starting with early academic works made in his native Holland in the early 1920s, to his final abstract paintings of the late 1980s painted in his East Hamptons studio.

12 April 2011

Essay: One Laptop per Pacific Child

An innovative global project to bring low-cost, low-powered laptops to children in developing countries is tackling the growing digital divide, writes Michael Hutak.
"As the world grows smaller, our common humanity will reveal itself."
Barack Obama, Inauguration Speech, 2009
If they are lucky enough to attend school, today’s six year olds will graduate in twelve years, in 2023. Yet, the pace of technological change is so astounding, how can we know what 2023 will even look like? Consider for a second life twelve years ago. In 1998, internet access in global terms was slow, narrow and novel. Today it is fast, broad and approaching potential ubiquity. In education, how do we prepare children for a world we cannot predict? What should education be when information is just a few clicks away?
Here are some things we do know about the school leavers of 2023:

30 March 2011

Closing the ICT Gap in Australia's Aid Program

Closing the ICT Gap in Australia's Aid Program: Bridging the Digital Divide in Aid Delivery

Speaking engagement, Australian Institute of International Affairs, Glover Cottages, Sydney, 29 March 2011

From the perspectives of humanitarian aid, human development and human rights, contributing to global efforts to bridge the digital divide should be an urgent and central priority of Australia’s aid program. 
There is a gap in equitable access to the digital domain between rich and poor countries, and between the rich and the poor within all countries. The “digital divide” has several dimensions: those who use computers and the Internet and those who do not; those with access to broadband networks and those without; and those groups within society such as the poor, uneducated or disabled who are denied access to 21st century skills such as “information literacy”.
Progress towards bridging these gaps is now widely accepted as a key indicator of human development within and among all countries. With bipartisan commitments to double Australia’s foreign aid program by 2015, Australia needs urgently to scale up its capacity and investment in Information & Computer Technology (ICT) for development.

2 February 2011

Bridging the Digital Divide in Australia’s Aid Program delivery

Submission to Australian Government Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness

By Michael Hutak, Regional Director, Oceania, One Laptop per Child Foundation

From the perspectives of humanitarian aid, human development and human rights, contributing to global efforts to bridge the digital divide needs to become an urgent and central priority of Australia’s aid program.

Information and computer technology (ICT) is facilitating an era of unprecedented social, political and economic change across the globe, profoundly impacting the international system and both developed and developing countries. Innovations in ICT such as the internet, the personal computer and the mobile phone are breaking barriers and breaching borders, sparking an explosion in information and communications, changing forever the way we interact as individuals, communities, and organisations.

11 June 2010

Exit through the foyer

Just who is the author of the doco Exit Through The Gift Shop wonders Michael Hutak. And does it really matter?
I wanted to approach this doco with the barest of prior knowledge, to consume the film as a self-contained text, outside the frame of its marketing and pre-publicity. All I knew was it was “about” the celebrated British street artist, Banksy, and it was the hot ticket at this year’s Sydney Film Festival. I think this is where I’m meant to say: “Warning, spoiler alert!” EXIT is not overtly about Banksy at all, but is instead presented as a portrait of Thierry Guetta, video diarist of the so-called street art scene in the noughties in Europe and LA, more recently the dubious artist-come-lately dubbed “Mr Brainwash”. At least this is the surface gambit of the production. Scratch the surface and all certainty is destabilised.

18 May 2010

AES+F at the 2010 Biennale of Sydney

Russian art group AES+F's The Feast of Trimalchio is one of the Biennale of Sydney 2010 most talked-about pieces. Michael Hutak gets to grips with its seductive surfaces and grim reflections of the real world...
The role of large-scale art events in the building of the “brand” of the global city is becoming more and more conspicuous. No city fathers can have pretensions to presiding over a truly “world class” city in the 21st century without a respected, credible biennale. A biennale is a luxury item, signifying a metropolis of emerging city-state status which belongs more to the global economic order than a national jurisdiction. Which is why it was interesting to hear Biennale of Sydney, artistic director, David Elliott, counsel the cream of Australia’s arts media at the launch for this year’s event, that they not forget about the fifty percent of the world’s population living on less than USD$2 per day. This sent a zephyr of murmurs around the MCA’s American Express Hall, a collective tut-tutting at such remonstrations. Get back on topic Mr. Elliott: this is contemporary art, not global food insecurity.

4 September 2009

ABC Unleashed: Whip it Good!

As the Spring Racing Carnival begins in earnest this weekend, Michael Hutak says new rules restricting how jockey's whip their horses are causing controversy.
Outside Melbourne Cup time, Australia's multi-billion dollar horse racing industry usually attracts the attention of the wider general public for all the wrong reasons: betting scams, race fixing, money laundering, "colourful" racing identities, horse doping and claims of animal cruelty are the typical narratives.
However, 2009 has been a year for rougher-than-usual hand-wringing for racing's bosses, faced with a public outcry over horse fatalities in jumps racing, the disturbing re-emergence of positive swabs for performance-enhancing drugs, cyber-attacks from the Russian mafia on Australia's booming online betting shops, and, taking centre stage at the moment, sweeping changes to the rules regarding the use of the whip in races.

14 April 2009

‘Reality’ bites at the La Budget Biennale

Displays of unbridled wealth are tipped to give way to retro recession chic at this year's Venice Biennale, the world's oldest, most-venerated annual contemporary art event. Held this year in the shadow of the global financial crisis, the international art market, a luxury market, is set to be reminded that collecting art is mostly discretionary. Michael Hutak reports.

Like last year’s return to minimalism on the catwalks, this year’s 53rd International Art Exhibition will reflect global belt-tightening with a back-to-reality motif from Swedish curator, Daniel Birnbaum. "Making Worlds," says Birnbaum, will emphasize process and materials and will be "closer to the process of production and the venues of creation and training -- the studio, the laboratory -- than traditional museum-style exhibitions”.
Accordingly, we can expect a more muted stanza in 2009 when the four-day preview or 'vernissage' kicks off on June 4. Displays of unbridled wealth are tipped to give way to a revival of recession chic, and the corporate celebrations aboard the flotilla of luxury yachts, in six-hundred year old palazzi, and at swank already booked out hotels like the Cipriani, or just about any along the Grand Canal or the Lido, will be careful this year to avoid any association with the holders of so-called toxic assets.

28 December 2008

Video surge drives social networking

As we hurtle headlong through the cultural and technological revolution that is ushering in our digital age, we find video is touching the lives of more people than ever before: on screens and monitors, through cameras and phones, at home and at play, in business and public administration. Nowhere is video more ubiquitous today than on the internet and it is incredible to consider that YouTube was launched barely three years ago. With 36 percent of US Internet users downloading video streaming online by the end of 2006, up from 28 percent at the end of 2005, online video has replaced music as the key driver of growth in digital media, and social networking is fast emerging as the "dominant online behavior", according researcher Ipsos. By last June, online traffic using web browsers overtook file-sharing peer-to-peer networks for the first time:
"Chalk it up to YouTube and other Internet video sharing sites. The surge in HTTP traffic is largely a surge in the use of streaming media, mostly video... YouTube alone has grown so big that it now accounts for 20 percent of all HTTP traffic, or more than half of all HTTP streaming video."
From an advocacy, publicity and marketing perspective, the viral video has opened a vital new channel for organisations to reach a younger, ever-more eclectic public.

3 November 2008

ABC Unleashed: Race Invaders

Michael Hutak writes about our responses to the globalisation of that distinctively Australian event, the Melbourne Cup...
Cup Day, and Cup Day only, commands an attention, an interest, and an enthusiasm which are universal and spontaneous, not perfunctory. I can call to mind no specialised annual day in any country, whose approach fires the whole land with a conflagration of conversation, and preparation, and anticipation and jubilation. No day save this one.
Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)

When Mark Twain attended the Cup in 1895, Melbourne's population was barely a million and yet 10 per cent of the colony's population turned up that day to witness the event, a remarkable turnout. With Melbourne's population today roughly 3.5m, the Cup is only now again approaching the sort of mass appeal it enjoyed at the turn of the 20th century.

11 October 2008

ABC Unleashed: The Meltdown Cup

When John Howard dedicated his government to transforming Australia into the world's greatest share-owning democracy, the sly fox was tapping into that kink in the national identity that we love to gamble. That the nation "stops" for the Melbourne Cup is often cited as key evidence in this claim. But if the share market maintains its current trajectory, Cup Day may roll around to find a nation already dead in its tracks.

16 May 2007

Grand Tour: stop, revive, survive

This Northern summer offers an once-in-a-decade opportunity for collectors to sample the latest trends in international contemporary market. Michael Hutak previews a blockbuster European season.

It swings round every ten years, the "harmonic convergence of super exhibitions", according to Artnet, that has signposted the phenomenal growth of the international market since the 1970s. 2007 will see the big four of contemporary events -- the Venice Biennale, Art Basel, documenta XII and the Münster Sculpture Project -- all open within a couple of weeks in June. This fortunate freak of scheduling delivers Basel, the Biennale, documenta, held once every five years, and Münster, held every ten years since 1977, to all strata of the international art milieu: artists, curators, gallerists, critics, consultants, bureaucrats, Museums, foundations, dealers, publishers. Oh, and collectors.

12 May 2007

Turner Prized

Michael Hutak profiles Australian critic and curator Jonathan Turner.

While the international success of Australian artists has become commonplace, it's much rarer to encounter a writer/curator making their mark in the rarefied circles of the international contemporary art scene. Which is what makes Sydney-born's Jonathan Turner Continental presence so noteworthy. Turner, working out of Rome and Amsterdam, has since the early 1980s curated more than 100 solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries in Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, the U.S., Thailand, Macau, Australia, New Zealand. He recently won the prestigious Premio A.B.O., awarded annually to the most influential critic/curator in Italian contemporary art and beyond. Previous recipients have included Rome's current Mayor Walter Veltroni, artists Joseph Kosuth and Enzo Cucchi, English collector Alex Sainsbury, and Danilo Eccher, director of Rome's Museum of Contemporary Art.

12 July 2006

Quai to the Kingdom

TEARS flowed freely at last week’s press preview of the landmark Aboriginal art commission at the Musée du Quai Branly, the new museum in the heart of Paris dedicated to non-western art. Surrounded by the media and basking under the artwork that has colonised the ceiling of one wing of the complex, East Arnhem Land artist Gulumbu Yunupingu broke down as she contemplated the moment. “I can’t believe I am here in Paris, underneath this, my gift to you. My painting brings us together and brings us healing; I am proud that you people here in Paris recognise my painting ... We standing here together. We are standing here strong.”

It was a cathartic moment at the end of a four-year journey that began when French President Jacques Chirac personally petitioned Prime Minister John Howard to join in his pet project on the Seine: a museum, a paean to the diversity and creativity of the world’s people, a project that could not be complete, implored Chirac, without a cultural contribution from Australia’s first people.