Thursday, October 23, 2003

Bloody Arty-Farty Nonsense

With only 18 seats, the Liberal Party can hardly be said to have the numbers in Victoria's Legislative Assembly, however it's good to see that the Liberals' defeat in the last State election has left it with much of its Parliamentary talent and political acumen intact.

Opposition arts spokesman Andrew Olexander has shown the way forward for the Liberal Party on the arts front, with his call for the government to take responsibility for the program of the Melbourne International Arts Festival. The Age reports that Mr Olexander was not impressed by the Belgian theatre production I Am Blood, which features a lot of genuine nakedness and copious quantities of fake blood. Mr Olexander found the show demeaning to women. According to The Age:

The show, created by Jan Fabre, is based on the premise that modern society has not progressed since the Middle Ages when it comes to torture and the acceptance of women's menstruation.

This sounds a little grisly (and definitely like the sort of show where you might expect to find content which, however inadvertently, is demeaning to women) but reading on, it sounds like a fine excuse for a group of Belgian actors to get their kit off and have fun in public:

The climax was a naked bacchanal in which all dancers were drenched with fluid from wine bottles before skidding and sliding across the stage.

I'm not sure if Arts Minister Mary Delahunty has seen the show, but she definitely wasn't impressed by Mr Olexander's call for the government to take more of a hand in planning future Arts Festivals:

"This is not North Korea," she said. "Melbourne is a sophisticated and tolerant community and such interference would pose a threat both to the artists and their audiences."

She warned it would result in an artistic program designed to suit the personal preferences and the political leanings of a particular minister.

So it looks like we may have to wait for the re-election of a Liberal Government before Melbourne is the sort of city where the Government takes a more positive role in the Arts and provides a firm guiding hand to keep the Arts community in line with general community standards. As it did back in the days when the only dirty books in Melbourne were read by Arthur Rylah.

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