We’re feeling much better now. The past week has been one long marathon of Biennale openings, media events and chit chats with artists. Our involvement has of course been purely professional. We are working on an Art Life Biennale TV special that will screen on the ABC on July 22. Thus, our consumption of alcohol, canapés and our endless rounds of disgraceful schmoozing has all been in the name of televisual excellence.
Most people involved in the art world – especially the social side of the art scene – acknowledge that it has little to do with reality. But the distortion of this slender reality has become so extreme that we have begun to wonder why waiters are not always at our elbows… Standing in the frozen food section of Coles, we turn expecting to find a waiter with a tray of drinks but all we see are other shoppers. Hey, where’s the booze?
Photo: Gary Grealy.
In past years the Biennale has opened on one night, a mammoth event between various venues followed by an “artist’s party” where the great and the good congregate to toast their collective beauty and genius. In 2006, the Art Gallery of NSW and The Museum of Contemporary Art opened on the same night and was followed by a party at Pier 2/3. This year someone brilliantly decided that, to avoid the unfortunate comparison between attendances at venues, there would be a staggered series of openings – Art Gallery of NSW on Monday, Museum of Contemporary Art on Tuesday, the official opening on Wednesday at midday, the artists’ party on Cockatoo Island that night, Artspace on Thursday and so on. And staggering it was.
With a guest list of 1,800 people the Cockatoo Island party was run with brutal efficiency. Ferries departed from Pier 2/3 as black clad art world worthies lined up like refugees trying to get out of a war torn land. “I have an invitation – and so does my wife!” Those without the requisite documentation were refused entry and on the slim chance that some might try to swim out, or stow away on board a Captain Cook Cruise Ship, a second line of invitation inspection was done wharf side by diminutive yet stern Biennale officials. If you were there, it was because you were meant to be there.
Enjoyment of the party seemed to be divided strictly along generational lines. Older party goers danced to a DJ whose idea of “laying down beats” was to play The Beatles Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and double normal tempo with Tom Jones and The Art Of Noise mixed in. Young people stood to the side appalled. “It’s like a fucking school disco gone wrong!” was the caustic observation of one well known young artist. Meanwhile, a Russian artist dressed in white shirt, dark sunglasses, jeans and sneakers busted out incredible dance moves to show the kids you don’t have to be under-55 to have a good time. Indeed, the same gentleman accosted us and whispered conspiratorially “Hey, can you score me some pot, brother?”
If only we could have helped you Ivan, but we were “working”.