Art Review

DISCLAIMER: A warning to all readers that this article is a construct.

To quote the omniscient narrator from Pride, Prejudice, and Post-Modern Productions in Parkes ‘n Palmerston, it is a truth universally acknowledged that every bustling new city must be in search of post-modern artwork.

The coherent string of post-apocalyptic structures placed in the midst of the cultural and artistic hub that is Canberra, bring to attention some seriously pressing issues. Whether it’s the phallic owl that watches over Belconnen, or the trail of famished looking hounds opposite O’Malley’s, these pieces are revolutionising the very concept of postmodern art. In my mind, at least, Canberran art is inherently hypocritical in nature; its efforts to expose the corruption within the metanarratives of patriarchy and consumerism are in fact a reflection of its conformity to them.

If the critical thinker Derrida is unknown to you, you may not realise that an artwork must be viewed in conjunction with its surroundings. For example, the significance of a rose is meaningless when context is not given to it. One must consider, is it is in a garden, and if so, is it dying? How many of them are there? Or has it unfortunately been plucked already and placed in a lover’s vase? The thing is, I have not told you what the rose looks like, and you have probably pictured a red one in your mind, still fresh (no bruised petals), and perhaps with a couple of thorns. You’ve already made a judgement about what it was going to be.

This is the principle by which Canberran artwork habituates; it is fundamentally deconstructionist. This type of ill-advised, impulsive, and restrictive thinking invites is what Canberra’s artworks seek to challenge and destroy. It’s about context. It’s about trying to convey a message to a 21st century audience by making things as discreet and as hard to understand as possible.(1)

Some of the newest and most exciting artistic developments within the city are unauthorised. You might not even be unaware that they even are artworks. Think deep. Next time you stroll through Garema Place, take a closer look at the wondrous mound of pigeon droppings that adorn the bike rails. They are there for a reason. So you ask me what’s the différance between that and Picasso? Well, in short, nothing, really. There is no fixed meaning to it, and that’s why it’s important.

But if these artworks have not at least brought to your attention the superficiality of today’s ever secularist, consumerist, Eurocentric world, then I don’t know what will. But perhaps this is the sacrifice postmodern art pays; it is so often misunderstood, and that is the beauty of art itself. Oh excuse me, what a post-modern thing to say.

[1] Also see Hugo Boss’ 3×5 metre advertisement poster in Canberra Centre. (What are Hugo Boss’ true intentions-is Hugo Boss really asking me to buy their thirty-thousand dollar suit?)**

**On a side note, Hugo Boss is a dying brand – go for something more avant-garde like Versace.