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.