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Sydney Morning Herald Column

Can Indigenous be International?

This year sees the first ever Biennale of Sydney with an exclusively indigenous theme. It’s not the only large exhibition to have taken this approach – the Havana Biennial has been devoted to ‘the developing world’ since its inception in 1984 – but it’s probably the most high-profile. It’s an irony that such a globalised […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Biennale of Sydney 2020. Part 2

March 26, 2020

Another week, another avalanche of statistics about infections and fatalities. As I write, the Biennale of Sydney, which has made heroic efforts to remain open, has just announced it will be switching to a digital platform. This is a poor substitute for the first-hand experience of works of art but it’s better than a total […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Biennale of Sydney 2020. Part 1

March 18, 2020

Every morning in Sydney we wake to news of cancellations and closures because of the rapidly spreading coronavirus. By the time this column appears there may be few major (or minor) venues that remain open, but – following that perennial advice about keeping a cool head in a crisis – I’m going to proceed as […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Christian Louboutin: The Exhibitionist

March 14, 2020

This weekend sees the launch of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, the first ever to showcase the work of indigenous artists from around the world. I’ll be taking a look at the Biennale next week, while keeping my fingers crossed. I’ve learned in the past that it’s best not to go into this event with […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Adelaide Biennial 2020: Monster Theatres

March 7, 2020

 “Monster” is a word that invites the most contradictory responses. We think of a monster as something hideous, out-of-the-ordinary, dark and dangerous, but given the opportunity to see one we come running. This is borne out by the popularity of horror movies, the freak shows that drew audiences to carnivals and fairs, the perennial fascination […]

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Film Reviews April 2, 2020

100 Years Ago: Way Down East

Few movies have been more rapturously received than D.W.Griffith’s Way Down East. For the Boston Post it became the subject of a heavily italicised editorial on 21 September, 1920: “This remarkable film should be seen by everyone; it is clean, sweet and beautiful; enlivened by humour and thrilling beyond description. When this art reaches so […]

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Film Reviews

Epidemic entertainment

March 26, 2020

If there were a stockmarket for movies the smart money would be on Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion (2011), which has become one of the most searched and downloaded titles on the web, even though it’s not available on Netflix or most of the other the major streaming services. With the news cycle so completely dominated by […]

Film Reviews

The Personal History of David Copperfield

March 18, 2020

One wonders what Charles Dickens would have made of Armando Iannucci’s adaptation of The Personal History of David Copperfield? Despite his reputation as a champion of the poor and downtrodden, the famous novelist shared all the popular racial prejudices of his time. No-one disputes that the character of Fagin in Oliver Twist, is a notorious […]

Film Reviews

Alliance Française French Film Festival 2020

March 13, 2020

“I film, therefore I am.” If asked to guess who made this heroic declaration you might imagine it was some famous French director such as Henri-Georges Clouzot or Jean Renoir, or perhaps a more recent auteur, like Jean-Luc Godard or Agnès Varda. In fact, it was Charles Aznavour, the small, dark, weedy crooner who dominated […]

Film Reviews

Dark Waters

March 7, 2020

“Corporations are sociopathic,” says Mark Ruffalo, who plays a crusading lawyer in Dark Waters. It seems the only language universally understood by the upper echelons of American big business, is that of money. Unresponsive to moral imperatives and human suffering, able to buy all the necessary political favours, the corporation can only be hurt by […]

Blog

Films of the Decade 2010-2019

December 19, 2019

Looking back over the past decade I was struck by the total disconnect between the highest-grossing films of the year and – for want of a better word – films of quality. Inevitably, the biggest box office hits are superhero movies, kids’ films, or franchises such as Harry Potter, James Bond or Star Wars. It’s […]

Blog

Matisse & Picasso: A First Look

It must have been tempting to call this exhibition Matisse v. Picasso, a bit like Batman v. Superman. The Australian public responds well to healthy competition, as demonstrated by the perennial mania for art prizes. Instead the National Gallery of Australia settled on the more dignified Matisse & Picasso as the title of its summer […]

Blog

A Model Collector

November 29, 2019

What happens to the rest of your life when Tom Wolfe declares you “Girl of the Year” in 1964? It’s a hard act to live up to, and even harder to sustain as time rolls by in its remorseless fashion. Fifty-five years later, “Baby Jane” Holzer is unfazed. I’m talking with this celebrated model, property […]

Blog

Japan Supernatural: A First Look

November 2, 2019

Curators will often describe an exhibition as a labour of love, but Japan Supernatural is more like a labour of fun. Melanie Eastburn has enjoyed working on the show for about a year-and-a-half, but has been carrying the idea around for much, much longer. Over the past few decades the Japanese fascination with ghosts, demons […]