I recently attended the annual Sydney art fair at Redfern Carriage works. I try to go every year, and it is a major source of inspiration to immerse myself in the endless creativity of the art community.

I did have an amusing experience I thought I’d share. So, when we first arrived, we began exploring the individual gallery area that was made up of sectioned off spaces for commercial galleries to show their artwork from their stable of artists.

One of the first artworks I saw was a photographic image of two men naked from the waste up, both with plastic bags over their heads and both clutching at each other’s throats. It was rather confronting and reminded me of the types of self-indulgent works that would occasionally emerged from my fellow students at art school many years ago.

I said to the woman who looked as though she owned the place “Wow, that’s kind of confronting!”. She replied defensively “Actually, we have had some really positive comments about this piece this morning!”.

Really? Seriously?

What? Like “Hey this inspires me to go home and put a plastic bag over my boyfriend’s head!”

Or, “I feel really great about my relationship…. now!” or even “Gee, that would look terrific on our lounge room wall above the seal-fur lounge suite, don’t you think darling?”

Well, I didn’t say any of that, but I kind of wish I had now. Self-indulgent, personal work like this has its place, but this kind of work is really not accessible intellectually or emotionally to most audiences. Is it there to shock? Is it trying to convey a meaningful message? Is it purposefully trying to exclude certain parts of the community? Is it simply just a personal expression of creativity?

I don’t have the answers here, just posing the questions that sometimes art lovers are too afraid to ask ….:-)

September 02, 2013 — Carrie Webster

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