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.


Anonymous said...

You're my hero.

crybaby said...

rock on!

PunkClown said...

Bloody Hell, I knew there were a plethora of arseholes in the world but I am amazed at the amount of dickheads you have had to put up with (and there's something about the term dickhead that is so apt when talking about men that behave in such ignorant and sexist ways as described in your post).
As for excuses of "ohhh they were drunk" I have been drunk, stoned and tripping in the past and no matter how wasted I was, I always knew what was appropriate behaviour when dealing with other human beings and what was NOT. If someone is going to act like an oaf when drunk, they'll be like that sober too.
Like crybaby said, rock on Hazel!

Jennie Rosenbaum said...

Wow, I knew art dealers are evil, but I thought it was more in a generic, money orientated way.. I am definitely going to remember your words and your experiences to avoid similar situations. I am so sorry that it has happened at all.

I have heard, and read that female dealers and consultants are the worst for perpetuating the problem, I'm really sorry to hear that this is true, it doesn't seem fair, we should band together and help each other not throw each other to the wolves!

Anonymous said...

Haze, You've made the best out of your talents, you're an awesome artist and you keep getting better because you want to! I'm sorry to hear you've been put thru such shit, but your integrity and vigillance is present and ever so real! Much love and respect, kellie

andrea said...

couldn't have explained it better!
w o w

matt f64 said...

well said. I became a member of our art gallery a few years back and have been hit on several times by the eastern suburbian elderly woman. fuck. but yeah I see what you mean here. pretentious middle to upper class art snobs. one even saw my work and said she'd give me name to a prominent currator....bleah....

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Surya said...

Hazel, I hope you had at least once accidentally hit them on their balls and said as an excuse that you were drunk.

The sedated & trying to get you to sign off everything sounds scary, even now.

certus said...

Hugh McLeod of mentioned your post.

I'm getting tired of fat angry old white men.

I'm getting tired of fat angry old women too.

The people above are beyond listening to anyone, when listening is all that is required of them.

Neal R. said...

Great stuff. Thanks for sharing.

I'm reminded of people using art and beauty produced by others as a way to hide the truth of who they themselves are - art as make-up, as a costume, as a mask, as clout, as borrowed power & glory. Admittedly, it is a good technique for the wretched - hide your wretchedness behind another's truthfulness, beauty, work, blood/sweat/tears.

nakedpastor said...

AND... you are a good writer.

Mike Wood said...

well put. I have no idea if the scene is the same here in Canada, but I suspect it is full of stuck up dickheads everywhere. Sucks women, and likely some men, have to experience what you did just to get a foot in the gallery door.

A quick scan of your blog posts tell me you have a lot of well written things to say. I need to take the time to read more.


Anonymous said...

I am an American writer/music producer who found this post when a colleague provided a link on FaceBook. You go, grrllll -- I know exactly what you are talking about and it stinks on ice, as do the perpetrators.I can well recall going for job interviews where the asshole-in-charge stared at my breasts the entire time and then asked if I wanted to "discuss my career' at his (and once,HER) flat!

Christina Roden in NYC

Dave Behrens said...

Love your work and your attitude!! Much success to you!