Monthly Archives: August 2017

Into Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Was in Sydney at the weekend hoping to get out and do some street photography but wasn’t feeling all that inspired so I wandered over to the Art Gallery of NSW and down into the contemporary art section. Noticed on the way that the ‘police wall of remembrance’, where they list officers killed in the line of duty and which I had never seen before, is located just next to the gallery. I found a bit discomforting the juxtaposition of a police monument and an art gallery that is supposed to house freedom of expression. Then maybe it doesn’t.
A function of art is to present to the public works that can be like a hypotheses, that go beyond the known and accepted and ask – what if? The public can respond, we can have a debate but that requires freedom of speech and expression. Below are a few pictures I took in the contemporary section.

Closing the gap text on wall of the art gallery of New South Wales.

On the way down to the contemporary section we are reminded about the need to close the gap with aboriginal
Australians.

Out of the Ordinary exhibition at art gallery of New South Wales.

Out of the Ordinary exhibition.

A few photographs – somehow the name ‘Daido’ came to mind.

Installation with outline of four people.

… and further on.

gallery walls with a painting in the background.

Something living.

Painting with Simpson character and melons.

Simpson character and melons.

Chair for the person who guards the installation.

Needless to say the walls themselves were bored and what might make a good work of contemporary art? An acquaintance who is lucky enough to reside in Berlin exhibited three stacks of a gay-boy magazine he published for a short while. The work challenged social conventions related to what can be considered ‘beautiful’ and I’m sure, sparked more than a few heated debates. Here nothing sets a foot outside of the strictly enforced boundaries of a nation in which the mere fact of being an artist means guilt is established.

ad nauseum

LOL – the expected flood of hate mail resulting from my last post failed to eventuate. Not a single comment which means that either no one reads anything here, no one has ever found this blog or no one could give a rat’s ass. Maybe the site stats which indicate thousands of regular unique visitors are fake and the work of the spooks? Seriously, I was expecting at least a few little insults.

Anyway – gay marriage is the ad nauseum talking point on our public broadcasting service and I would imagine many are as sick of the topic as I am. The latest is that legislation that would have enabled a plebiscite, as is the policy of the conservatives currently in government, was again rejected by the senate. The Labour opposition and the Greens want a vote in parliament possibly because they have done the numbers and fear a resounding ‘No’ if the issue is put to the public.

As I’ve often said here and as a same-gender-attracted person myself, I have no problem with the concept of gay marriage and can think of a few guys I might have married last century when still young and beautiful, but I do feel we need to address the question of the rights of children with same-gender caregivers and also the rights of biological parents including grandparents, whether there is parenting equivalence and the question of commercial surrogacy which a few Asian nations have recently banned. I would not want to see future gay people being the victims of a backlash provoked by the fact the marriage thing was rammed down the throats of an unwilling public without addressing these and other issues and already I have from conversations with heterosexuals, found they are sick and tired of this gay marriage thing and some will therefore and out of exasperation, vote ‘No’ when the issue goes to a postal vote as appears to be the government’s strategy now that a parliamentary vote and a plebiscite is off the table. In a large part we can thank the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) for pushing same-gender marriage so hard we are already beginning to see a backlash.

From those conversations with conservatives, I also found the concern they have with same-gender marriage and other recent attempts at making society more inclusive such as the ‘safe schools’ fiasco, is that marriage and safe-schools are less about inclusion of minorities into mainstream society than they are the thin edge of a broader agenda to completely re-engineer society. For example, same-gender marriage has implications for gender and it could be argued that ‘safe-schools’ was also less about bulling than it was to eliminate gender as early as the primary school playground. I wonder how this elimination of ‘gender’ could be a benefit to gay men whose sexuality is as gender based as that of heterosexuals? The question is who historically has had a problem with gender and sought its removal from all social institutions?

It might surprise some that not all gay men are comfortable with these current developments believing them to be of dubious benefit and potentially a ‘bridge too far’ that could result in a future loss of rights. “Not all gay men” for the most part are older men such as myself who remember that the gay liberation front of old (GLF) was a social movement that pushed for a sexual liberation, kicking the state out of the bedroom, and one from which all members of society stood to benefit – that being including heterosexuals. I think this distinction between past and present gay rights movements is something I should write about and so it will be the subject of a future post.

Other than that the printing business is stalled on a few technical issues that appeared in the first tests, difficult to crash teach yourself what is a trade, but which I will resolve and if not, then there will be printing gear for sale on ebay. Not too fussed about it as it is simply ‘something worth trying’ as part of resolving financial problems and I have other irons in the fire and plenty of things to keep me amused such as books, street photography and the animation project which is progressing.

 

Allen Ginsberg’s “Thoughts on NAMBLA”.

Reading a collection of essays by the American poet Allen Ginsberg I was surprised to find a previously unpublished text in which he explains why he became a member of the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA).

Now, NAMBLA has had very bad press and is generally perceived as a child abuse club but the truth is a little more complex. NAMBLA was formed in the aftermath of the Boston sex scandal of 1977 in which police investigations into allegations of abuse of minors turned into a full scale witch hunt that destroyed the lives and reputations of many innocent people including alleged victims who were subjected to ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques to force them to cough up names of men who allegedly had abused them. NAMBLA was formed as a mainstream gay rights movement but one that sought to include debates surrounding the relationships that can and do occur between men and teenagers. Having previously worked as a teacher in juvenile detention centres and having managed youth programs for homeless and at risk youth I can say that these intergenerational relationships occur by far more often than the public realise and are not always abusive.

Here’s what Ginsberg had to say,

Thoughts on NAMBLA.

I became a member of NAMBLA a decade ago as a matter of civil liberties. In the early 1980s, the FBI had conducted a campaign of entrapment and “dirty tricks” against NAMBLA members just as they had against black and anti-war leaders in previous decades. In the January 17, 1983, issue Time magazine, following the FBI disinformation campaign, attacked NAMBLA as a group involved in the “systematic exploitation of the weak and immature by the powerful and disturbed.” That struck me as a fitting description of Time magazine itself. NAMBLA’s a forum for reform of those laws on youthful sexuality which members deem oppressive, a discussion society not a sex club. I joined NAMBLA in defence of free speech.

Historically, societies have taken different views of this issue and the political heat that surrounds the subject is unnatural. Demagogic reaction to NAMBLA demeans the subject as a political football. At present European nations do not share current US public sexual hysteria. Various cultures and states offer widely varying definitions of age of consent – age 15 in Czechoslovakia and some US states, 14 in Hawaii. There’s no universal consensus on “consent”. It’s a fit subject for discussion, NAMBLA provides a forum.

Most people like myself do not make carnal love to hairless boys and girls. Yet such erotic inclinations or fantasies are average and are commonly sublimated into courtly sociability. An afternoon’s walk through the Vatican Museum will attest centuries of honorific appreciation of nude youths, an acceptable pleasure in the quasi erotic contemplation of the “naked human form divine”. From Rome’s Vatican to Florence’s Uffizi galleries to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, we see statues of prepubescent Eros, pubescent Bacchus, male ephebes (naked bodies 12 to 18), the adolescent goddess Kore, nymphs, naiads, young fauns and satyrs in abundance, Laocoon and his boys with pubes exposed, wrinkled old Neptune’s loins, old hags with undraped withers and dugs, Olympian Zeus and kid Ganymede. Western civilisation prides itself on its foundation on classical Greek culture, wherein intergenerational love was a social practice praised by philosophers.

A dash of humour, common sense humanity and historical perspective would help discussion of NAMBLA’s role. Further, libertarians or anarchists may remember Blake’s warning, “One law for the Lion and the Ox is oppression.”

These considerations shouldn’t be distorted to apologise for rape and mental or physical violation of children. I respect those who want to fix a general law to prevent abuse of minors. This is a real problem though less politically demagogic than advertised by some aggressive therapists, politically correct thought police, and the obsessive senator Jesse Helms. It is NAMBLA’s mission to raise the subject, explore it, and provide a platform for debate.

Child abuse laws have been abused, especially since the Reagan-Meese commission’s predictably incompetent linkage of pornography and violence. Subsequent formation of a Justice Department child porn bureaucracy sent federal squads roaming the states teaching local police to practice prurient snooping, invasion of privacy and lawless entrapment. Often police intrusion into consensual intergenerational affections and affairs results in abuse of both parties. Police authority also has made use of mind rape of the younger person, forcing unwilling youths to fink on close friends with threats of jail or beatings. One important function of NAMBLA is to keep track of bureaucratic manipulations of adolescents by police, FBI, media, and other agencies who handle such delicate issues with a meat ax. A Witch Hunt Foiled: The FBI vs. NAMBLA provides an impressive volume of information on these outrageous police practices.

Ginsberg, Allen (1994) Published in ‘Deliberate Prose’ Selected Essays 1952 -1995 pp 170.

What I feel is missing in Ginsberg argument is the role the ‘beautiful boy’ principal played in the development of western art and culture and not just that it was the most ubiquitous representation of the human form in western art. It was the aesthetic yard stick of most of the west’s greatest achievements and in all areas. What its removal could imply for future development we can only surmise but there are already indications of what lies ahead in the dumbing down and low quality of much of today’s cultural output. That ‘human form divine’ is now all but absent.