The Weekend Australian - Review - - Profile - Tim Dou­glas The Weekend Aus­tralian Re­view

A week be­fore Aus­tralia Day in 2010, film­maker War­wick Thorn­ton got some­thing off his chest. “Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple have used the South­ern Cross for the last 40,000 years as a bea­con guid­ing them to travel through coun­try for sur­vival,” he said. “We don’t want to turn the South­ern Cross into a swastika — that’s bloody im­por­tant.” Thorn­ton was re­fer­ring to the con­stel­la­tion’s con­nec­tion, real or per­ceived, with racism and a new na­tion­al­ism in Aus­tralia, one ex­em­pli­fied at its nadir by the Cronulla ri­ots in 2005. When the Sam­son and Delilah di­rec­tor took some heat in the press for his com­ments, he knew he had the mak­ings of a thought­pro­vok­ing film. Seven years on, the re­sul­tant doc­u­men­tary, We Don’t Need a Map, will open the Syd­ney Film Fes­ti­val. The film, pre­mier­ing on Wed­nes­day night, ex­plores the South­ern Cross’s jour­ney from stel­lar com­pass to tat­too of choice for young Aus­tralians and a di­vi­sive sym­bol of na­tion­al­is­tic fer­vour. Thorn­ton has ad­mit­ted mak­ing the film scared the hell out of him, but he should be com­mended for hav­ing done so. Too rarely does main­stream tele­vi­sion or film ask dif­fi­cult ques­tions of our­selves. That, also, is bloody im­por­tant. The 64th in­stal­ment of the SFF runs un­til June 18. On the sub­ject of big ques­tions, Jane Cornwell’s cover story on Her­mann Nitsch (pages 8 and 9) asks a few of its own. The Aus­trian artist’s

has courted out­rage in Ho­bart, where Nitsch and a band of vol­un­teers will cre­ate an art­work from the blood of a slaugh­tered an­i­mal as part of MONA’s Dark Mofo fes­ti­val. A 20,000-strong pe­ti­tion against the per­for­mance work en­sures it is likely to be the most con­tentious art­work to be shown in Aus­tralia since An­dres Ser­rano’s Piss Christ graced the walls of the Na­tional Gallery of Vic­to­ria in 1997. Tues­day will see an in­ter­est­ing test of the Abo­rig­i­nal art mar­ket when an Emily Kng­war­r­eye paint­ing bought two decades ago by El­ton John goes up for sale in Syd­ney. Bon­hams will auc­tion My Coun­try, a 4m-wide work that has spent much of its life trav­el­ling the world as part of tour­ing ex­hi­bi­tions. John, him­self no stranger to tour­ing (he will per­form in Aus­tralia in Septem­ber), bought the paint­ing for $46,000 in 1997. The high­est price paid for a Kng­war­r­eye work is $1.056 mil­lion ( Earth’s Cre­ation, sold in 2007 — at the time a record for an indige­nous and a fe­male Aus­tralian artist). Much has been writ­ten about the de­cline in the indige­nous art mar­ket since, so it will be in­trigu­ing to see just how deep into pock­ets fin­gers reach when the gavel comes down. Face­book: @the­week­endaus­tralian­re­view Twit­ter: @TimDou­glas_Aus In­sta­gram: @Re­view_Aus­tralian

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