Posts Tagged ‘art’

rental crisis, ghettoes in Darwin, and the future of the arts

September 11, 2008

Earlier this year I had to move house, and the rents have gone up so much that, sadly, I am unable to live in Brisbane any more. I was lucky to get a place at all. The area I live now is pleasant enough, but I am feeling amputated from my real-world culture.

The rental crisis is widespread, and getting worse. The other day there was a news item re concern over the likelihood of ghettoes forming around Darwin, due to aboriginal people wanting to access the services they need that are not provided out bush. To me the article possibly had racist undertones, along the lines of “quick we’d better get some services out there or they’ll come here”, but it does underscore a point about housing affordability in Australia. Maybe I’ll be off to Darwin to join them when it gets worse here.

However, there is more to affordable rental than having a roof over your head. What you can do under that roof matters. Vanity Fair recently ran an essay by Christopher Hitchens on the necessity of “Bohemia” for the renewal of culture. “In every age in every successful country, it has been important that at least a small part of the cityscape is not dominated by bankers, developers, chain stores, generic restaurants, and railway terminals.” Well the rental increases are so steep here in Brisbane that even the Chinese Club has had to move out of Chinatown.

Where will high cost of accommodation leave artists, musicians and other cultural practitioners? It will physically scatter us, robbing us of the contact that is so necessary for cross-fertilisation of ideas. And in downsizing our accommodation, artists won’t have room to do things like painting and sculpture. I have just acquired sets of artist’s coloured pencils because this place is so small I have nowhere to paint, and nowhere to store canvases.

Creative people are imaginative and resourceful and will adapt as best they can. We have the internet now – if we can afford it and all the gear to run it. The web is building creative networks as never before. Our work can be produced digitally (software is available at no cost) and exhibited online. But there is no substitute for physical cultural spaces accessible to people outside the mainstream. It is well known that the cost of failure has to be low for innovation to occur. These rents are making the cost of failure prohibitive.

What will become of art in the cities, and where will artists go?

I denied being a goth when my friend asked, but

August 27, 2008

Caterpillar#5bis, originally uploaded by Frederik en Katleen.

I must be. I’m so in love with this Caterpillar that artist Wim Delvoye has laser-cut into fine lace. It is on the Belgian coastline, near Middelkerke. There are several others, shown on Delvoye’s web site; and then there are his other gothic works, including stained glass windows made with x-rays of guts and stuff. They are amazing too.

Some say this Caterpillar is parodying religion and industrialism at the same time. Others say it is Steampunk elevated to High Art. It definitely has the pseudo-Victorian look of steampunk. The artist himself describes it as gothic. As always, the interpretation of these things is in the eye of the beholder, so I am not going to try for the “correct” one. I wonder if there is a photo of it against the sunset, reverently bowing its head?