The Weekend Australian - Review - - Profile - Tim Dou­glas

Thirty years ago, the idea of the Gold Coast as a global cul­tural des­ti­na­tion would have been seen at best as a symp­tom of mis­guided am­bi­tion and at worst the punch­line to a pretty good joke. But there’s no deny­ing the re­al­ity to­day. With the growth of the Gold Coast’s Bleach Fes­ti­val (see story on pages 12-13) and re­newed in­ter­est in cul­tural in­fra­struc­ture, might the mecca of surf and sun be over­taken in com­ing decades by the arts? Hold on to your wide-brimmed hats. The signs are strong. By the look of it, Bris­bane’s Gallery of Mod­ern Art is the school ex­cur­sion des­ti­na­tion du jour. Ei­ther that or the city’s best-be­haved tru­ants col­lec­tively de­scend on the river­side cul­tural cathe­dral to get their kicks. What­ever the case, it was heart­en­ing to see the in­sti­tu­tion so full of life last week. It’s a tes­ta­ment to di­rec­tor Chris Saines and his team’s 10th an­niver­sary ex­hi­bi­tion Sugar Spin, which has seen record num­bers through its doors. GOMA is on track for 500,000 vis­i­tors to the show, out­strip­ping its pre­vi­ous best, 21st Cen­tury: Art in the First Decade, which reg­is­tered 450,000 in 2011. It’s a big year for GOMA, which re­cently an­nounced a Marvel ret­ro­spec­tive in ad­di­tion to its am­bi­tious Ger­hard Richter block­buster in Oc­to­ber. The Richter show is a coup for Queens­land — the ac­claimed Ger­man artist re­mains in high de­mand (last year his paint­ing of a fighter jet, Dusen­jager, sold for $US25.6m) — and by all ac­counts the task of bring­ing it all to­gether is a her­culean ef­fort. But un­less Richter hitches a ride on a Dusen­jager, the artist — who rarely trav­els — would seem un­likely to make it here. And at 84, that would be more than for­giv­able. In­ter­est­ingly, I un­der­stand Richter won’t be the only in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed oc­to­ge­nar­ian artist be­ing cel­e­brated at GOMA this year. Ex­pect word on that soon. Still in Bris­bane, I had the great plea­sure of at­tend­ing the open­ing night of Queens­land Bal­let’s Raw last Fri­day. The triple bill fea­tured work by new com­pany as­so­ciate Liam Scar­lett and QB bal­let­mas­ter Greg Hors­man, but the jaw drop­per was Ghost Dances. The Christo­pher Bruce work, cre­ated 36 years ago in re­sponse to Au­gusto Pinochet’s dic­ta­tor­ship in Chile, was in equal parts con­fronting, mov­ing and beau­ti­ful. As this news­pa­per’s dance critic Deb­o­rah Jones wrote ear­lier this week, Ghost Dances’ fo­cus on hu­man rights abuses is still, sadly, ger­mane. Ku­dos to Li Cunxin for se­cur­ing this world-class work for Bris­bane. Last year 99.6 per cent of tick­ets for QB’s sea­son sold out (mostly be­fore a cur­tain was raised), so Li is ev­i­dently do­ing more than one thing right. Tick­ets might be in lim­ited sup­ply for Raw, but chance your arm at the box of­fice. This is one worth see­ing.

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