The Weekend Australian - Review - - Viewpoints -

I DON’T usu­ally waste time agree­ing or dis­agree­ing with re­view­ers but I have to con­cur with Greg Sheri­dan’s past­ing of Aus­tralia (‘‘ Slum­dogs shame our dogs’’, Fe­bru­ary 21-22). Within 10 min­utes I re­alised I was watch­ing a car­toon. The hor­ror line in the mid­dle of a dog script was given to the young Abo­rig­i­nal ac­tor Bran­don Wal­ters: ‘‘ She has come here to save us.’’ Bloody hell. Colo­nial­ism, unashamed, un­abashed and, most un­for­giv­ing of all, un­know­ing. Ruth Trigg Nor­manville, South Aus­tralia CHRISTO­PHER Allen’s ha­rangue over the 2009 Ar­t­ex­press ex­hi­bi­tion of art­works by NSW stu­dents (‘‘ Teen spirit’’, Fe­bru­ary 28March 1) is an ex­am­ple of the ever present adult sneer to­wards ado­les­cents in our so­ci­ety. Young peo­ple are of­ten mud­dled and some­times they be­have badly, but they de­serve our re­spect when they reach to­wards their own de­vel­op­ment, creative ex­cel­lence and so­cial com­men­tary. Allen has a le­git­i­mate case to make against high school teach­ers who per­sist with an exclusive post­mod­ern doc­trine long af­ter its use-by date, but he whacks the kids with the same cane. Amaz­ingly, the vi­brancy of the youth­ful tal­ents in the show push through the de­scrip­tions to re­veal them­selves de­spite their critic and, if Allen is to be be­lieved, de­spite some­times dull and undis­ci­plined ed­u­ca­tion as well. Fix the teach­ers and re­place the cur­ricu­lum if you must, Christo­pher Allen, but what the youth need is ap­pre­ci­a­tion for their naivety and en­cour­age­ment for their con­trari­ness. Would we have mas­ter­pieces without both of th­ese? An­drew Relph Ned­lands, West­ern Aus­tralia CON­GRAT­U­LA­TIONS to Christo­pher Allen on an­other of his mas­terly es­says. Allen is cer­tainly one of Aus­tralia’s lead­ing es­say­ists. His sub­tle and very thought­ful com­men­taries on art are a de­light to read, par­tic­u­larly his deft but telling jabs at artis­tic hy­ber­bole, which has in­creas­ingly in­fected art in this coun­try and in­ter­na­tion­ally since 1904, and ever more so from the 1960s un­til now: a pe­riod in which we have trag­i­cally con­fused artis­tic nov­elty with artis­tic merit. My con­cern, how­ever, is that once the artis­tic es­tab­lish­ment cot­tons on to what he is on about it will re­act fiercely. There is now far too much in­vested in artis­tic balder­dash, both fi­nan­cially and emo­tion­ally, for his po­ten­tial crit­ics to go softly into the night. Bruce McCallum Gwelup, WA ANTONY Beevor has given us the term to de­scribe a dis­qui­et­ing trend (‘‘ On the dan­gers of coun­ter­knowl­edge’’, Fe­bru­ary 21-22). For those who re­ceive their un­der­stand­ing of the world from pop­u­lar cul­ture, what you are told ( even in fic­tion) is more sig­nif­i­cant than what is true, partly be­cause there is no past, only an ev­er­p­re­sent now. Life is re­flect­ing art in chang­ing his­tory in this way, per­haps to end with life im­i­tat­ing art: 1984, any­body? Jamie Mawer Al­bany, WA

re­view@ theaus­tralian. com. au

Ar­t­ex­press work by Estelle Felix

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