12 August 2005

Death on a Wing

A flu pandemic that could strike without warning and kill millions is on its way.

With the world economy locked into open trade and globalisation, and security wracked by terrorism and fundamentalism, you could forgive the planet’s leaders for being distracted. It’s hard to conceive of anything so tumultuous that it could deliver us beyond the post-September 11 era of suicide bombers and chronic poverty, religious fanaticism and rampant militarism, of record profits and jaded celebrities, cosmetic surgery and low interest rates.
Nothing, except a global influenza pandemic. With the conditions ripe and the world overdue for another global outbreak, government and corporate decision-makers have been jolted in recent months to consider the consequences.

30 June 2005

Venice Biennale: It's the thought that counts

The invisible, the maudlin, the magic at the 51st Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte - AKA the Venice Biennale.

“Ohhh! This is so contempory [sic], contempory, contempory.” So mocked the fake gallery attendants in a singsong that greeted art lovers who wandered into the German Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale, the world’s oldest and most prestigious contemporary art festival.

Employed by 29-year-old Berliner Tino Sehgal, the attendants were the artwork. Their catchy refrain would prove difficult to shake, as some 15,000 critics, curators and collectors – and more than a few stray movie and pop stars – hummed their way across the sinking city, devouring the latest the art world has to offer.

12 May 2005

Market penetration

A LONG time ago, in a land far away, The Blob was one of my favourite movies. Apparently they're doing a remake. That's about all I can be bothered finding out about the remake of the The Blob at this stage.

If you want to know more go and look it up yourself. There are stacks of online resources where you can get all the information you could ever possibly want - and never possibly need - about The Blob and the remake of The Blob. All the goss, all the speculation, all the dross that's unfit to print, but that's so easy and painless to publish online.

And herein lies a problem. The web is awash with too much publicity for nothing worth promoting. 

23 March 2005

Mona Hatoum: Exile from main street

Endoscopy, electricity and estrangement drive the thought-provoking art of Mona Hatoum.

"I don't know where this is going," interjects Mona Hatoum during an exclusive interview with The Bulletin last month. "Is this about me or is it about the work?" Well, when you're one of the most lionised figures in contemporary art, about to mount your first Australian show, and it's called Over My Dead Body, then it's got to be about both.

A survey of Hatoum's sculpture, performance and installation since 1992, the show was nabbed for Sydney by Museum of Contemporary Art director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, when she saw it at Berlin's prestigious Hamburger Kunsthalle lastyear. Hatoum will be in Sydney to oversee the show's installation and participate in public Q&A sessions.

"Much of my work gives a sense of uneasiness with the world," says the Beirut-born Palestinian, who has lived in Britain since 1975 when civil war broke out in Lebanon.

2 January 2005

Art Market Notebook: Summer 2005

Chalk up another astounding performance for the Australian art market in 2004, begging the question, just how long can these good times roll?

The most transparent barometer of artworld economic activity remains the auction scene and 2004 continued the stellar growth that has marked the longest upward trend in the domestic market's history. In terms of total sales at auction, the market has been growing at around 10 per cent per annum, according to records kept by the Australian Art Sales Digest. At the time of writing, 2004 was on target to break the magic $100 million barrier in total sales at auction, meaning the secondary market has increased in volume five-fold since 1993 when turnover was just $19.4 million.

Where’s the money coming from? 

Deal Me In: Shaun Dennison

Christie’s entered the burgeoning fray of the indigenous art market in October with a 168-lot auction in Sydney. The man plotting the strategy for the venerable French firm is tyro auction specialist, Shaun Dennison. Melbourne-based Dennison, a management consultant by trade and an art collector by passion, has only been collecting himself since 1996 – the year Emily Kame Kngwarreye died. Christie’s new Modern Aboriginal art specialist, spoke to Michael Hutak at the Paris preview of the sale in September, then by email after the sale in October.

Michael Hutak: Can you remember the first artwork you bought?