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Australia, Everyone is Scared Here.

Forum > Rants

allblackwinz by Flake
Article of the Month June 2007

I feel that I’m living in an extremely comfortable cartoon, pretty and clean and ripped off. Where everyone has the same dream, replicas of me are already here, being here makes them have to move over, but they just wait patiently for me to leave, see they don’t need me. Australians – and this is the most frightening thought, are completely self sustaining. They don’t need anything or anyone. They have built a snug cocoon and their moral crack in their fiber is their fiber. Like NZ’s Treaty we whistle through the hole in our teeth bared.


I wanted to think about this before I said something, to late. 3 in the morn is all right. I’m not a student or a scholar so I’ll write this just as I see fit. Australia the Land of the scared, I have been supported by an idealistic welfare system in NZ and therefore I lay some of my beliefs on and to the people of NZ, but a people living on a land that has serious and catastrophic history needs to be taught, learnt about and made one with so that the ghosts of seriously fucked can be lived along side with. But you'd have to be a well balanced individual to want to learn about that, and as a country of children of convicts, famous for not getting enough love themselves where is this role model suppose to spring from. It is like watching an abused chimp trying to nurse an infant with a lump of concrete. So it is instead paved over, since the local indigenous numbers are more like 1 or 2% it is spookily and easily done. And what I am saying is simply respect. Aboriginal people are not given respect.

It is my opinion that any opinion is some indication of what a person is willing to say about what they really don't know much about but are willing to hear and learn more about it from the rest of you. So with that in mind I will continue to recall my impressions of Australia as experienced here in the bubble of Melbourne, with a few impressions gained from earlier forays on the Gold Coast. Plus a lot of tele watching. Is NZ aware that quality NZ programs like "Neighbors at War" and I think "Police 10-7' or something, you know 11.30pm late night tv nz style showing people being idiots is Australian Major network Prime time TV. Tuesday nights at 8pm. That’s all you will see of NZ and I think betrays teeth to what is usually portrayed as friendly rivalry.

My first psychic research trips into the landscape of Aussie right now was done reservedly. I couldn’t name an Australian artist (Bands excluded) that I was interested in, generally there is a glut of painting all trying to paint out wall paper over the glaringly obvious, the spiritual rot of humans in this picture perfect landscape. I wrote earlier an idea that I’ve floated before, that those living in major cities suffer from a lack of perspective that has them all crawling and itching to get up each others arses to see the view. You see it in NZ too where one little aesthetic innovation will sporn a wave of activity but with the low population numbers NZ gets away with the gaps in between aesthetic movements, meaning you can see them for what they are. Here and in other major cities I have visited the alternative is “alternative’ the gap is smeared over and criticality is a department in a corporation. The only reason NZ is ‘better’ is our low numbers, village life is re-created here, everywhere there are cells of cultural behavior, I have met myself at least twice running into the back of one of these clicks, we’re all making the same work, only I think mine is TRULY better, wow with out italics it would be hard to tell. But I digress, here is a page unedited (sorry academic wankers) from my notes.

“Sunday 17 June,

I’m a tourist and like all tourists I didn’t come here to see your particular rendition of what was fashionable in the west through the ages, though pleasant enough. I want to see what is here originally and what was here uniquely. In the cause of other research I read snippets of how where I was staying was considered of some importance to the Woiwurrung because of a scarred tree in Fitzroy gardens. I wanted to see it. It’s on no maps. Walking around the park I found 12 tributes in bronze and brick to the wonders of popular taste. With carefully laid out paths I ask at Cooks house for directions, they hand me a pamphlet , No. 13. There it is rotting away. With foot paths almost running through it the distain for this heroic symbol of Aboriginal occupation and continued existence is almost enough to make me scream. The Brick and mortar shelter right next door for the caretaker, their driveway backing up to the sacred site. Droves of children lead by teachers visit Cooks house, on the map, followed by a Lilliputian village, on the map. They look bored - but how can you tell when you don’t care what you tell them. “

By Design or by design, this was my experience. And it truly sucked. I will go so far to say that what I have learnt about Nazi Germany began to be laid over what I was seeing, Cooks house became a Guard House in a Concentration camp and what is horrifying is that I don’t think this isn’t an accurate comparison. I am watching kids and tourists get their picture taken in front of symbols of old England complete with Union jack flying, and all I see is the swastika’s power and the ability of it to drive people insane. I have a scholarly book about a particular Aboriginal Nation, what they call a group of peoples who had a high percentage of shared words in common. I can’t read it, I’ve flicked through it, the methodical horror inflicted upon… you have to read the detail it is unbelievable. Makes the whole “lost’ or stolen generation thing look like a goodwill mission. And that is Australia. To me so far.

Here are more notes. as is.

Australia the land of the scared. Everyone is scared here –the men all seem to want to live up to bumbling boy idiots to graduate later as bloated and spookily blank plantation owners. Woman are startling beauties, that’s it, together their fear is as white as their teeth chomp into the next pretty thing. Everything here has to be painted pretty because Aboriginal Australia is so fucking black. So fucking black that the Midnight Oil song “Beds are burning” is played 24/ 7 here, out of every mall, supermarket, boutique store, every car horn, bicycle bell and rumble of friendly tram., The ground painted over in white, Red and blue is shit thick in plastic images pasted to promises of better life ‘your living it’ and I don’t see it. I just see a nation running scared by not enough love now placed in the position of being parents to children they are scared of. And the only instruction manual is buy. That is what Australia has tried to do. You should see the pain of it not working on the face..., the wondering what to do when they look up from doing a good job and it’s not working. Why aren’t the problems going away. Like a four year old who’s pissed his pants – How could this happen to me – I’m right!

Australia’s overcompensation for the fact that they can not touch the ground with out being burned morally ethically and the rest is seen in every casino Vegas style Architectural monument to success spewed forward by the plan. It is in the feeling as I walk the street that I am in a replica of a city built inhabiting people that care.Like that fake Venice casino where you smell the chlorine I went to the Harbor and smelt the human shit.

I feel that I’m living in an extremely comfortable cartoon, pretty and clean and ripped off. Where everyone has the same dream, replicas of me are already here, being here makes them have to move over, but they just wait patiently for me to leave, see they don’t need me. Australians – and this is the most frightening thought, are completely self sustaining. They don’t need anything or anyone. They have built a snug cocoon and their moral crack in their fiber is their fiber. Like NZ’s Treaty we whistle through the hole in our teeth bared.

I feel being in a big city is a disadvantage to knowing where it is at. With the ways in which information is physically and psychically transferred these days being in the center of a web like formation only indicates that you are stuck. When the real view is as far out as you can get. That’s what I see in this city and it matches what I have experienced of NY or London and the likes. That cities are nets where the flotsam has been erected in semblances of displays – but in no way do they mirror or act as symbolic occurrences of what is happening in culture, this is now taking place at rates and in dimensions to small, numerously instant and complex to ever be fixed, except as something dead- a relic- of a past moment. This city can’t see itself so everyone in it stares at the wall. When a window won’t satisfy the desperately real need for a view the tower of lies built to hold all this up looks a lot like a painting, done again and again.

To conclude in good infotainment style BUY MY PAINTINGS, Shot Red Cross (series), see the images included. They will exist while I am here but I think I’ll have to chuck them when I Ieave on the 27th of July. They were put on display for one night only, for an opening here at Gerturde St, I had these in my studio which I opened up for the night about 30 people have seen them. They are $3000 each. They are Vinyl on Glass in Aluminium frames with holes. 1.2m x 1m. They are delicate but reasonably stable and price includes a custom built transportation case. Contact me via this site or email your intent to Gertrude Street at: info@gertrude.org.au


Business man me.

R L-and-E O T

1 to 20 of 61
John Hurrell
122 articles & 1507 comments since 2 Dec 2005

Beaut to have your comments, Flake. And tasty looking paintings too.
What's with the holes? Are you saying rude things about John Nixon or something? Or is it Mystical Abstraction you are punching your fist through?

Speaking of 'mysticism' but ignoring 'abstraction' the Conland show that opens this Friday in Auckland looks very exciting:



Chris Taylor
1 articles & 308 comments since 30 Apr 2006
Oh, the hell of Melbourne...

You sound deeply alienated Flake. How about getting out of the city and the 'art world' and going to the outback where you will find a very different Australia. Better than beating up Malevichian motifs. Though take care, there are plenty of pubs out there where you could get beaten up. On The Road....

Incidentally, may I suggest you go to the NGV and take a good look at the paintings of John Brack, a Melburnian. Particularly the pre 1980s works. You might have an affinity with his view of Australian values. This work was painted in 1955.
5 articles & 165 comments since 24 Nov 2005
Good on you flake! It's good to read raw thoughts with nothing lost in trying to make it read better. Cool work too. I think of Australia as heading full speed ahead in the hope-desire to becoming another USA and I think this shows in your observations of the place. Who, if anyone, will administer the first aid Australia so badly needs to open their eyes before it's too late ? That's what I see in your paintings.
46 articles & 641 comments since 26 Jan 2006
Thanks for the comments Liz and John.
1 comment since 26 Jun 2007
This site is fascinating, though I wonder at the praise and privilige heaped upon Flake? he airs and airs and airs? and all seem attentive and congratulatory? Elsewhere on the blog i saw something about politeness? So i thought i shoudl respond, in all fairness. Without taking the bait too much. just a little reponse.
I did see his GCAS show and was really impressed, though feel a bit sad that his impressions of this town are so simplistic.
Everyone here knows that the current government emulates the USA and that Australia's excessive reliance on uranium and other mineral mining is something to despair, not to mention the catastrophe that is white australia's relationship to its indigenous people, however there is a great deal of literature, film, theatre and art that has been written and exhibitions curated, and government policy written and rewritten - that address these things. People are more than aware of it. It gets in everything. Just read leunig!
And that Melbourne bubble Tao refers to. The quick whir and click of a well oiled machine, everyone in their groove moving through the network seamlessly - yes it is a bit Courbieuseresque - a little frightening in its seamlessness, and can make one a little prone to contentedness, lose the hunger a bit. Infrastructure can be the enemy of anarchy - NZ's chaotic lack of any infrastructural order is perhaps what keeps it on its toes culturally? Keeps it angry and questioning?.
And besides a simple psychogeographic reading of the city will come up with the same lack of perpspective and desire for height (physical and metaphoric) that tao identifies in his travelogue. That too is a pretty well trodden path. But then - what is new. I guess.

The mirror is an old one, the face a bit tired. Blow it up and start over - remove some teeth , make a gap. perhaps? The irony is that you can here, there are funding bodies to assist in such mattters!

3 articles & 366 comments since 9 Oct 2006
yes an irony, those that can so often dont, those that cant somehow manage.
an old debate about too much comfort leading to complacency and inertia.

lose some teeth indeed.

1 articles & 141 comments since 11 Aug 2006
An artist will find something in anything, including too much comfort. Extremes are where you find the interesting. But I would go for too much comfort instead of too little.
Art is what can make life worth living for if you are destitute, it's the expression of an alternative, a compensation for misfortune, a priestly stoicism. The same with the obscenely wealthy, art is the connection to the thing they lost along the way, or have always longed to experience, the one thing that wealth can never aquire in truth.
I live in a city, but my interest is in nature, the almost maschocistic detachment from the subject gives it intensity, a rose is best viewed against a concrete wall in my opinion.
46 articles & 641 comments since 26 Jan 2006
I feel self conscious about the piece, I know it stinks of bait, I do have an agenda of some sorts, but I think simplistic is in part of making sense, if I got it wrong, my ratios not dialed correctly let me know in detail and I'll improve. It is totally possible to live contently right next to a stinking corpse, we adjust, it is our great ability, but the body doesn't disappear. I saw it for a second, now I am implicated in it's painting over... What I wrote was as much for my own record of exp. as something to share with others. Already in the few days that have past since the piece my feelings have been sucked away through the necessities of living. You just can't stay that angry and be sane. I wanted to record for what they were, a response to something that is simultaneously present and buried. This conundrum exits all over the world but I haven't got round to feeling it like I have here, just my luck. I acknowledge the multitude of organizations and good sentiment that exist here, but they were not my point. I do think they can make a huge difference, you only have to look at egg farming or global warming to see the difference protest culture can make, But when you have a government right now that is so clueless in how to address indigenous affairs, that it simply ignores it's own ministers on serious issues for decades (child abuse scandal, outed in the early 90's, now acted upon with total bullshit grandstanding and more abuse of dignity, etc etc..) Yes there is outrage but it is cosmetic and mostly academic, the "problem" the way I think it is dealt with is that it is seen as some other generations problem, their mistake get over it, it has nothing to do with us.... There s a similar strand in NZ, and while it is strong it struggles to gain impt ground because the government is forced to move by an active social conscious body of minor parties and media.... Recently media here in Aussie has had to promote their difficulty to do their jobs because of government culture that is shutting down ethical practices in name of corporate laws...I mean come on pull your head in shit is not good. That I am saying it wooppee, that it is said, YES. AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN>>..... I don't want to loose out to my Ikea cocoon and it is absolutely mind blowing how very very possible that is. EVERYTHING SAYS FORGET. I know what I want and that is to engage in a living culture. From the research I have done currently no one is sure if this is possible. POSSIBLE, not we are working towards a definite plan, no, there are loose guerrilla like plans all over the place. An Aboriginal college near where I am uses text books from another state, a different language, the wrong language. I mean Shit man there is no one teaching the local languages, and by local I mean Melbourne of Four million people! you don't see it anywhere public though just like NZ towns, street signs proudly announce a presence. Australia is rich, but it's about care. And like I said before, I put the idea out there that perhaps there is a real perpetuating catastrophe when one group of unloved is asked to love something they abused,.. how is this done?? IRELAND any ideas? I'm sorry this is stupid to talk in this way, I am abusing this forum to vent childish notions of right and wrong. I will get over it. Probably make some half decent work about it, improve my cult status and go on to do something similar elsewhere with funding from whoever.....
2 articles & 162 comments since 25 Mar 2006
Just picking up on something Keith said. To quote: "NZ's chaotic lack of any infrastructural order is perhaps what keeps it on its toes culturally?"

Oh really? Last time I looked, NZ was a nation of bureaucrats and nowhere is this more pronounced than in the arts. There are myriad funding schemes for this and that; the special dole if you are an artist; every tinpot town has an art gallery and museum & community arts facilities; the opera, ballet, symphony etc are all funded by government. Arguably it's all about infrastructure and not enough about good work...

Even if what you were saying was true, the argument would still be specious. It's ridiculous to propose that lack of infrastructure is a condition of good artmaking & a causal factor for a healthy culture that is 'on its toes'. On these terms, all the best artists would come out of the Congo.
3 articles & 366 comments since 9 Oct 2006
interesting to me how lively the artwork is coming out of eastern europe for the last 10-15 years...not the congo precisely sooty, but nevertheless an interesting contrast in terms of relative ease and the urgency (or lack thereof) of practice when compared with the fatter cities/ economies.
It seems obvious on the face of it that art would be the least important thing to think about when starving or under constant threat of violence...but the reality is sometimes different. I have raved before in this forum about artists in Sarajevo and their extraodinary comittment to continuing to practice while being shot at for three years... not possible to generalise about such things perhaps. slightly off the topic of infrastructure...more about will, passion and commitment

I have heard Melbourne artists speak about Sydney as seamless and self-sufficient...(sydney artists speak that way about New York and London)...South island artists speak that way about Auckland...fact of life fatter cities ARE relatively self sufficient...they ask with some justification why the hell should they look further when everything they need is directly at hand. for example Natasha Conland is attributed with saying that there are no decent artists in the south Island (hearsay, but related to the notable demographic gap in Scape 06). is she right? is it true that if it happens in the South Island it never happened? obviously i dont think so...but why should australia care about NZ? why should auckland care about the south?

how the hell would we know how good the artist in the congo actually are?

5 articles & 165 comments since 24 Nov 2005
I cant say specifically about the Congo, But like Aboriginal art from Australia in the last decade, I have read a bit recently about a growing international interest in African art, and if you look at the sales of African art at Sotheby's and Christies auctions you will see, mind you that's just the art market isn't it.

I met a woman from Russia once who's friends all said, why would you move to a place where you cant wear high heel shoes? when she told them she was moving to NZ. Ignorance is bliss I guess, we all think were so clever, when in reality we just don't know what people outside of our own particular little cocoons are doing, much like any form of discrimination really, including that which Flake talks about in Australian society.
2 articles & 162 comments since 25 Mar 2006
Anyone care to compile a list of good artists in the South Island and prove Natasha Conland wrong?
Lee Clump
12 comments since 7 Apr 2007
Flake, Why all the beating up on cities? Do you really think you're somehow "above" everyone who lives in a city like Melbourne, Auckland, NY etc. or "purer" than them? What a load of bullshit and what a cliche. In Australia, NZ, and US, the country areas and small towns are the really nasty closed-minded places.

Your work looks really awesome though, congratulations.
46 articles & 641 comments since 26 Jan 2006
Miranda Parkes
Simon Laurence
Rob Hood

5 articles & 165 comments since 24 Nov 2005
Sooty, do you really think there's a significant difference between the south and north island that would validate such a list ? and if so what about north islanders living down south and visa versa. It's a load of bollocks to think that one half of NZ produces better artists than the other, in either direction, and if Natasha Conland, really thinks that then she really needs to get out more often. It's like the rest of the world saying there are no good artist's in NZ period!
3 articles & 366 comments since 9 Oct 2006
yes that was the point I was trying to make Liz, cheers.
 a comment about the pervasiveness of smug regionalism...as opposed to a defensive stand about artistic pedigree measured by geographical means...
william blake
29 articles & 728 comments since 15 Aug 2006
flake nice bit of modernism...the art with an 'ole etc. isnt it wierd how artists generally cant afford to buy their contemporaries work (or their own for that matter ) good luck with sales, bring home some aussie dollars ( the redback?)

you dont sound very happy about australia though, meybe you should do something about that.
46 articles & 641 comments since 26 Jan 2006
Aussie's all right, land of extremes, just surfing it, sorry it all comes out as a negetive, wish it was more just observation, but I guess I am looking with an eye to see what needs fixin. typical wanna be hero reflex.... I'm pretty happy too.
46 articles & 641 comments since 26 Jan 2006
Blake maybe I could cut you a deal....
1 comment since 5 Jul 2007

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