Just as we posted our roundup of comments from our call for suggestions for influential shows [see below], we received an email from a reader we shall do the favour of calling Sgt. Schultz. Although not exactly what you’d call a “positive” suggestion, the good Sargeant remembers a stoush in the Sydney:
Well, perhaps not influential, but I’d say Tony Bond’s Body exhibition at AGNSW rates a mention for the following…
A clear realization that if you really want to see particular master works, go overseas, they’re never coming here. Bond’s inclusion of prints of artworks he wanted for the show was a pretty stark reminder that even if they could be loaned, they won’t come to the outposts. (Perhaps this has changed a little, and perhaps this embarrassing curatorial ‘decision’ spurred the good museum folks onto lobbying a bit harder and demanding standards that can not really be argued with. Maybe.)
Secondly, Bond’s inclusion of a substantial amount of his acknowledged friend Mike Parr‘s work. The ensuing battle in the SMH instigated by the esteemed critic, between himself, Bond and Parr reached fever pitch. McDonald eventually publishing a fictional fantasy dialogue. Not since (I couldn’t really say if before) has arts coverage in Sydney and likely in Australia (with the exception of the Henson Fiasco) been afforded such column inches, a trait more common in the British press. For once, a seriously curated exhibition of contemporary art was given a good going round in the papers. Who cares what was said – it was there. The sensation was not tabloid, it was merely a mutual distaste between the combatants – who in turn fired off by turns intelligent and amusing missives and an editor willing to let it run. If only that would continue.