Friday, September 01, 2006
Yeah, I’m Talking About You
A while back, I had a particularly irksome confrontation with a well-known Sydney gallerist. It took a couple of days to recover my composure, and when I did, I scribbled these words inside the small sketchbook I use as diary:“I hate the Australian art world. “I hate the staid, smug, sexist, middle-aged white men who populate it. I hate how I have had to fend off their wildly inappropriate advances, their blatant sexual innuendos and their cowardly back-stabbing asides. When I first started out, I expected expertise and professionalism. Instead, I’ve experienced everything but. I hate how they think that every young woman is naive and stupid.“I hate the women too. I hate how they won’t stick by each other. I hate that they’re the first ones to tell me how clever my marketing is, as if my success has nothing to do with talent and hard work.“I hate art dealers. I hate the one that, when I was too poor to stay at a hotel, offered me a lumpy fold-out couch in his apartment. He told me if I couldn’t get to sleep I could always share his bed. I hate the one who helped find me a psychiatrist during a nervous breakdown and then, when I was so heavily medicated I could hardly speak, tried to talk me into signing over all my work to him. He even had the nerve to propose a book by him about my work as if it was some kind of irresistible incentive.“I hate the rich patron of a much-publicised art project who announced to everybody at a dull, self-congratulatory party for the media and Melbourne’s social set that he wished all artists looked like me. He didn’t mention anything about my art, and I hate that too. I hate that, later, he tried to press me for a tongue kiss. I hate the people who made excuses for him, saying he was drunk.“I hate the so-called artists’ manager who said – as we stood together in the middle of nowhere and he fingered the trigger of a rifle I was going to use in the series of paintings I wanted to paint there – 'I could rape you now and probably get away with it'. I hate myself for not grabbing the gun and turning it on him. “I hate every asshole that has tried to kiss me on the mouth or leave their hand on my ass when they greeted me at an gallery opening or party. I hate everyone who told me I should take it as a compliment. I hate that many of them were women.”I hate that I have never said any of this publicly. Until now.