© Gianni Wise, 2012-18

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Festival of Democracy, University of Sydney 27/09/14
Forum and talk, Verge Gallery, Sydney

A gallery discussion led by Gianni Wise. It includes Jacqueline Drinkall, along with guest activists Matt Kiem and Alana Lentin. It is on the decision by the Biennale of Sydney to sever ties with Transfield, following a campaign of pressure from artists angered by the company’s links to Australia’s offshore detention centres.

This is open forum where attendees will be invited to contribute.

A few points:
1. Arts sponsorship is, I believe, always political.

2. Historically this not new of course. Aspects of some of modernism’s most revered avant-gardes were financially buoyed by corporate funds. Take the recent, protests that arose over Turkey’s largest conglomerate Koç Holding’s sponsorship of the 2013 Istanbul Biennale (producer of arms and military hardware)

3.and finally my position is that I do support the boycott is a strong and essential action in this particular situation. I support direct actions such as these because of the voice they give to an otherwise ‘voiceless’ public. It also raises questions of artists who recognise their basically inescapable complicity with the cultural and economic systems they seek to critique are frustrated once they realise that criticism and dissent have become staple spectacles of the institutionalisation of a global contemporary culture that seem to speaks for ‘others’. At the same time, the artist as citizen is often disillusioned with an image of contemporary democracy that similarly speaks representationally for them, while wholly disregarding their actual values and desires.

A paper will emerge out of this discussion - titled Post-Truth, Untruth, and Superficial Deception in the Public Sphere.