Great Hall

June 21, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Ulalume | 0 Comments |

Ceiling of the Great Hall of the People (Photo by Forezt)

Late editions

The Great Hall

The Varnished Culture‘s nourishing mother has sent news it will build a Great Hall by 2017.  This Maoist-sounding edifice is to have courts for various ball games, a swimming pool, a yoga area and gym – all the things a world-class university needs.  “The Great Hall has been designed to artfully blend into the streetscape.”  Alumni, staff and supporters are invited to “embed themselves in the DNA of the Great Hall” and have your name woven, etched and displayed in 3 dedicated spaces and sculptural forms, together with three personally chosen inspirational words.

It seems appropriate that the Great Hall will be constructed next to the Jeffrey Smart building, as the artist’s impression of the new form seems akin to the nightmarish landscapes and constructions Smart presented in his later paintings, such as Approach To A City, Control Tower, or Central Station II.  We have long suspected that deep down, Smart detested the modern urban look, as do we…why else would he live in Tuscany?  In any case, we encourage the Adelaide University to build and provide facilities for students but in relation to the Great Hall, our 3 little words are: “Hell is Here”.

Jeffrey Smart Learning Centre

Jeffrey Smart Learning Centre

Can one steal a transcendent patron of the Arts?

The ramifications from the arrest of Subhash Kapoor continue.  The only good facet to this saga is that the conversion of great art to Loot, a la the Maltese Falcon, is one way of getting the public’s attention.  Why didn’t we think of that?

Dance out of this one

Dance out of this one, auspiciously

Why P must push the pen

Simple home economics means The Varnished Culture has day jobs, which is why we can’t join some of the SA Wagner Society and other enlightened folks in attending The Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s Tristan und Isolde. Hopefully there will be reports from the Society, inter alia.  Break a leg everyone!

Tristan, Isolde and the potion (John William Waterhouse, c. 1916)

Tristan, Isolde and the potion (John William Waterhouse, c. 1916)

We note the interesting review (22/6/15) in “The Australian” by the perceptive Murray Black, with kudos for Conductor David Robertson, the SSO and Katarina Karneus as troublemaker Brangane, but complaining of the arty, slow motion  video/projection displays behind the pit and stage, saying “Although it sometimes created an evocative, dreamlike atmosphere, it also became increasingly distracting as the opera progressed.”

The Varnished Culture smugly comments that it will cross the border to see T & I when they stage the whole opera.  As Michael Tanner brilliantly put it in the ‘Spectator’, ‘Any adequate performance of Tristan und Isolde…leaves you wondering what to do with the rest of your life…”A proper production is what we need in Australia!  Mr Brandis, let’s fund that!

Let Us Savour Our Despair

Nay, wallow in our despair!  The Venice Biennale exhibits expensive, contemporary art, comprising nonsense, intellectually-morally-and-aesthetically-bankrupt agitprop and, let’s say it, sentimental trash.  What outstanding chutzpah to stage such miscarriages within such a fecund city of historic beauty.

Bad taste invades (photo Marek Gehrmann)

Bad taste invades (photo Marek Gehrmann)

The Guilty Pleasure of Lists

They are a giant Con, we know, but try to avoid them.  Good luck with that.  Better to concentrate on the good lists. A good ice-breaker or fight-starter. A nifty one was published in the Australian over the 16/17 May weekend – a list by writer Mark Mordue of painful books (painful in a good way).  We agree with some of his Good Painful choices – Crime and Punishment, Catch-22, Heart of Darkness, In Cold Blood, Moominland Midwinter, The Catcher in the Rye – and we agree with The Road only in the sense of the pain of cliché overload and time wasted.

The paradox of patronage

Ah, art and politics…left or right, fair or foul.  Bill de Blasio is copping heat in New York because he wants to fund arts programmes at grass roots level, presumably so the tots can grow up and produce classic work like the Chinese Maoist Opera, Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy. In Australia, conservative Arts Minister and Attorney-General, George Brandis, wants to slice a chunk of arts money off the Australia Council and put it into a separate kitty, presumably controlled by him.

Lorenzo the Magnificent

Lorenzo the Magnificent

Mayor de Blasio should heed the wise words of Mark Stern, University of Pennsylvania, reported in the February Arts Newspaper, to the effect that “If you focus just on economic impact, you restrict yourself to a narrow subset of activities and are forced to compare the arts with building stadiums.”  (The South Australian Government might also note that!)  As for Mr Brandis, his impulse might be good, but remember that whilst a politician might aspire to be a Lorenzo de’ Medici, an elected one can never be.

[Update: in a recent (14/9/15) convulsion, the Federal Government appointed Mitch Fifield as Minister for the Arts.  There ensued a fair slice of schadenfreude over the departure of Mr. Brandis but, more importantly, TVC hopes the new man can straddle that difficult gulf between art and money.  It is a difficult river to ford, full of rent-seeking Nibelungen, fraudsters, and artists without talent.  We wish him all the best.]


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