I wrote the two blogs below in 2016 as a response to the appalling situation re the cancellation of the Melbourne Art Fare that year. At the time, I decided not to publish it on this blog. I should have. I chickened out and shame on me for doing that. Well, it's back on again, The Melbourne Art Fare that is; presumably because the tin pot nobodies of the ACGA feel like there's a profit in it this year. In 2016 it was cancelled by this self interested bunch of morons who were/are only in it for themselves. The pathetic excuse they made for cancelling the fare at the time was that three galleries from Sydney had pulled out, so they (the board of the ACGA), felt Melbourne could not put on a proper show. This of course was complete and utter crap. The reason they did not put it on was because, without those three galleries contributing financially, the fare was going to be too expensive to put on. If they had come clean about this, I would have had no gripe with them. But no, their egos just couldn't bare the humiliation. There must be a quid it it for them this year. As I mention above, I didn't post this and I should have. Here it is, no excuses, no apologies.
1. A Big Slap In The Face To Every Artist In Melbourne Not Represented By The Group Of Trumped Up Nobodies In The ACGA.
If you should take the time to read this article above (copy and paste into your browser), make sure after you've got to the last paragraph, you have a big glass of whatever tickles your fancy to calm you down.
There was I, naively thinking that the cancellation of the Melbourne Art Fair this year was just a temporary glitch - for this year at least - in Melbourne's international artistic calendar - but no, it would appear, those people involved with or running the contemporary galleries of the hallowed ACGA, have nothing but their own collective self interest at heart. Three galleries from Sydney decided not to be part of this year's Melbourne Art Fair and as a consequence of this, the board in Melbourne decided there just wasn't enough talent around (that is not enough talent in the hundreds of art galleries in and around Melbourne - indeed Australia) - to put on a credible show.
What a slap in the face to anyone who is not currently represented by the hallowed trumped up few who, it would appear, truely believe that they are the only galleries to be taken seriously, the only people to produce anything of artistic worth at which to look and ponder, the only people who believe they are at the cutting edge of contemporary art (make me laugh some more), the only people who are capable of representing Melbourne - indeed Australia! - in any form of visual artistic endeavour.
On the occasions I have been in any one of the galleries whose owners proudly announce they are members of the ACGA, an odious air of self congratulatory narcissism has filled the rooms to the point where I have almost gagged on the stench of their stifling atmosphere: and woe betide anyone who dares to offer even the mildest of artistic criticism at the artworks exhibited in these 'Leading Galleries'.
I emigrated to Australia twenty five years ago. During that time there have been market collapses a plenty. Galleries have closed, homes and jobs have been lost, artists, poets musicians, photographers have struggled, not to mention the demise of many home grown industries; but for most of those twenty five years, people involved in Australian art, had a genuine love of its various mediums and would do anything to see it continue as best they could. There was a genuine feeling - spirit - call it what you will - and support among artists and gallery owners of all persuasions that, despite everything negative thrown at them, they would keep going matter what.
Not any more. The spirit is dead. The ACGA is run by self inflated snobs. Snobs who care naught for art, care naught for the artists who make it, care naught the cultural life of Melbourne (a city currently boasting that it is "The World's Most Liveable City" and getting the world's attention), and care naught for the artistic life of Melbourne in the future. If there is the tiniest amount of emotion lurking somewhere deep in their hollow hearts at all, it is for their own financial wellbeing and nothing else: and they don't even have the common decency to be honest about that financial reality.
Everyone has to make a profit whether it's a sole trader or small business employing twenty people or a multinational employing thousands: for business' sake alone, that's a given. If finance was the main excuse for the cancellation, there would have been a perfectly legitimate (and honest), justification for their decision. This was not the case. Oh no, they couldn't for one second, admit that without those three galleries it was all going to cost too much. With the trumped up nobodies currently forming the Melbourne board, the 2016 Melbourne Art Fair was doomed before anyone had the chance to step in and shout at them: "Where's your loyalty? Where's your decency? Where is your love affair with Melbourne and the artists who make up its artistic life?" with as many disgusting invectives thrown in for good measure.
It's almost as if the Melbourne board of trumped up nobodies still believe in the "Cultural Cringe" as far as Australia is concerned. The "Cultural Cringe" is alive and well and you can thank the trumped up nobodies for that. You see, if they didn't pass you and your artwork as ok, then you are just not good enough. You just don't cut the mustard and until they give you the go ahead, you never will. The Melbourne board, truely believe that Melbourne - indeed Australia - is so backward artistically, if three galleries pull out of a major international event, the show just can't go on. It's just not possible. Melbourne - indeed Australia - will become a laughing stock with any piss poor artistic efforts put on display that have not been vetted by them. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Their (the members of the ACGA), attitude towards the "Affordable Art Fare" is the perfect example of their outright as snobbery. The joke is, that many of the artists who showed in those affordable fares, currently show their artworks in ACGA galleries. So much for their snobbery and arrogance.
What the ACGA have set up for themselves is an unoficial "Closed Shop" reminiscent of the 1970s' when unions controlled all employment while at the same time they denounced private business using slogans like, 'Jobs For The Boys' or 'Jobs For The Old School Tie'. The hypocrisy of the unions at that time was obscene: as is the "Closed Shop" mentality, snobbery and arrogance of the ACGA today. It's hard enough for anyone currently trying to make a living at the most precarious of professions: "Artist", without these selfish, self opinionated, self interested tin pot nobodies putting up barriers around an already small and very muddied playing field. The closed shop is their domain and their domain alone and its doors are locked firmly against anyone they deem to be unfit.
To add insult to injury, shortly after the appalling decision to cancel the Melbourne Art Fair was made, they organised a show for themselves in Melbourne's city centre where once again, (on the report of a friend who has become equally disillusioned with the trumped up nobodies), the stench in the air of self congratulatory narcissism wafted around each and every gallery owner and artist. If any of them read this and are offended: good, I make no apology, you don't deserve it.
I know by writing this, I have effectively ended my artistic career or ended any aspirations I may have had in trying to be a part of Melbourne's artistic life - at least as far as the ACGA is concerned. However, something has to be said and it might as well be me. At the end of the day, always remember, if you are an artist who is not represented by one of the galleries in ACGA, or an artist who has no representation at all, you will never be taken seriously, never be considered as an artist of any worth: at least as far as the ACGA and the Melbourne Art Fair is concerned. You are an artist who has nothing worthwhile to express.
It's hard to imagine or believe that in this year 2016, it would do the contemporary art world the world of good to have a revival of Gustav Courbet's Salon des Refuses. Just imagine the disdain and contempt from those who do not want their nice safe little world disrupted? I can already hear the sound of the tut tutting dismissals from behind the closed doors of the ACGA's "Closed Shop".
2. 2016 A storm should have brewed, but it didn't, never was going to, never had a chance.
A few months ago I wrote a highly critical post about the appalling decision by the ACGA to cancel the Melbourne Art Fair. I took it down shortly after posting it; I'm still not completely sure why, but something niggled me in that, the art world in Australia is a small one that is controlled by a few well healed and well connected people. They control just about everything that is seen and more importantly, what is taken seriously as "art worth looking at" by the media and pandering cognoscenti. What can I say? I chickened out, worried that if any of them should see the post (highly unlikely - even by accident), my artistic career, insignificant as it is, would take a spectacular nose dive: any access through any door to any gallery of note would be closed to me permanently: and probably will be if any of them read this.
I should not have deleted the post. I really should not have as my anger towards those who made that appalling decision has not abated one iota. It was sparked, my anger at them that is, after hearing the wonderful song by Dire Straits 'In The Gallery' (1); a song I had not heard for a very long time. The words in it are prophetic and as true today as they were when the song was first penned. I am not going to reproduce them here as I do not have permission and do not want to go through the rigmarole of getting permission just to make a point. It's enough to say, if you should get the time; give it a listen. It's also enough to write here that one particular verse in the song infers that a select few who run the major art galleries, get to choose who gets an artistic career and who doesn't. When the song was written, the gallery owners created a Closed Shop situation for themselves, which is exactly what is happening today.
After cancelling the Melbourne Art Fair for the most ridiculous of reasons: they wrote in the media at the time, that three galleries from Sydney had pulled out of the fair and because of this, Melbourne, (named several years in a row as 'The World's Most Liveable City'), was unable to put on a good enough show. Worse was still to come. Shortly after, the members of the ACGA gave themselves and their galleries an exhibition in the city to keep their artists happy. Had this second self indulgent decision not been so deplorable, not to mention a slap in the face for all the wonderful artists (not signed to an ACGA gallery), working in Melbourne and its environs, it would have been laughable: comical and worthy of any artistic outsider's mirth and satire. That did not happen of course, as those outsiders like myself did not want to "hang themselves out to dry" so to speak. There was a long silence (not to mention the post I removed) as all of us accepted the ACGA's insulting decision. We accepted calmly and quietly their complete disdain and contempt for anyone outside their august circle of narcissists. What were we thinking and why oh why didn't we react the way we should have?
There was another silence too: a silence from all art critics. Nothing. No anger. No vitriol. No contempt and well argued criticism of these thoroughly deplorable people with their nineteen seventies closed shop mentality; only a couple of tiny articles with tiny headlines in the leading newspapers, which read to the effect that, the Melbourne Art Fair would not be put on in 2016. It was as if the spokesperson for the ACGA dictated it to the media word for word. From the two main critics of the Age: nothing. From the two main critics of the Herald Sun: nothing and barely a peep from the news outlets in Sydney, Adelaide or anywhere in the north and west of Australia. Not a peep. I can't help thinking, that just like all the silent artists at this time, they too (the art critics), kept their fingers well away from their keyboards and their mouths well and truely shut. Perhaps they were worried that, if they had shown any form of contempt of any kind, they would be not able to tot along to the latest exhibition to sip down three or four glasses of nicely chilled free champagne. Shame on them and their collective silence. Shame on us artists too (those not signed to galleries in the ACGA), for our silence and lack of oomph; and shame on me for removing that former post. What was I thinking? This little rant may go some way to redressing the balance, but I'm not holding my breath.
(1) LP - Dire Straits - 'Dire Straits' - RJ-7541-1-2- Songs By Mark Knopfler, 'In The Gallery' - Side 2 - second Track.