I’m afraid that delays are becoming too frequent with this newsletter, but as soon as I got back from France I had to deal firstly with the zombification of jet lag, then it was full-on Sydney Biennale. Next week I won’t have any excuses.
By accident rather than design it’s turned out to be a very French week, with the art column looking at Christian Louboutin’s exhibition at the Palais de la Porte Dorée, (virtually the only show in Paris that cried out for a review), and the movie column devoting itself to the 2020 Alliance Française French Film Festival.
To stay in the mood I’ve been reading Daudet, Simenon, and the letters Bonnard exchanged with Matisse. Maybe next week I’ll shift countries, but the French mind-set is very seductive when you’ve become immersed in the literature. The book I feel compelled to reread is Camus’s The Plague, which has new relevance, given the inceasing global grip of the coronavirus.
I know one is not supposed to go to social occasions, shake hands or embrace anybody, but it’s hard to avoid physical contact at an event such as the Biennale opening. I suspect everyone raced off afterwards to wash their hands.
It’s impossible to ignore the growing anxiety about the virus. Although it may not be all that deadly, it’s obviously wildly contagious. The fact that Peter Dutton got it may count as proof there is a God. If Scummo were to pick up a dose at a Hillsong Church event we’d have to start wondering if he and Jesus were still best of friends. It may be the Lord hasn’t forgiven him all those Pina Coladas in Hawaii.
International travel is swiftly drying up and this will have a huge effect on travelling exhibitions around the world. My inbox is full of notices by commercial galleries saying they’re now operating in an appointment-only basis, while museums will be seriously impacted by the new recommendation that gatherings of more than 500 people at a time should be avoided. On the other hand I can think of a few venues that would be overjoyed to attract 500 visitors.
Rather than keep babbling at such a late stage I’m going to wind up here and hope you enjoy this week’s French connection. For the next few months we may only be able to travel to Paris through movies and novels. At least there’s no need to fret about the exchange rate.