Mervyn Bishop

Mervyn Bishop, a Murray man, was the first Aboriginal person to work at a major metro daily newspaper, joining the Sydney Morning Herald in 1962. In 1971 he was named Australian Press Photographer of the Year. He would go on to cover major events, including the anti-war protests of the 1960s, the Bicentennial in 1988, and Aboriginal community life in remote regions of Australia. Continue reading Mervyn Bishop

Vivid Festival 2017

A bonus visual sociology, so we can all share in the glowing loveliness of the Vivid Festival, an annual event in Sydney. Runs from May to June.

[People gather in front of a fountain that is lit up with a large red lotus flower. In another scene, a structure shaped like a tree – with a tall concave stump and three cylindrical disks on top – is lit up like a tree with flying birds and leaves spreading and growing. Music coming from the installation is a pleasant instrumental]

Continue reading Vivid Festival 2017

Bangarra: Eora – Bennelong

Eora – Bennelong by Bangarra Dance Theatre.

This installation for Vivid Festical was on the side of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. A breathtaking dance and art concept. Continue reading Bangarra: Eora – Bennelong

Adman: Warhol Before Pop

This Andy Warhol exhibition covers his work, life and inspirations in the 1950s when we worked in the advertising industry. The two displays shown first are recreations of window displays he made for Gene Moore, who was the display director for Tiffany & Co and Bonwit Teller department store. Other pop art figures also designed for stores but did so under pseudonyms. Warhol signed his work. Continue reading Adman: Warhol Before Pop

Australia’s Unfair and Inhumane Refugee Policies

Untitled (refugee girl) by Mohammed. Via Safdar Ahmed and the Refugee Art Project

Whilst in London a couple of years a go, I came across a sign which reads, “Begin your dream today, emigrate to Australia!” (see below). A warm invitation indeed: unless of course you are an asylum seeker – in which case our Government will revoke this welcome and abscond its responsibility to the United Nations Convention Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

Since 2001, the Australian government has passed several laws that allow the detention of asylum seekers in offshore centres located on the islands of Nauru and Manus. This was first established by excising islands from Australia’s territory; attempting to pay off people smugglers; and a series of other policy changes known as the “Pacific Solution.” In the first seven years of the scheme, over 1,600 people were held in detention. They arrived predominantly from Afghan, Iraqi and Sri Lankan backgrounds. While this program was initially wound back by 2008, it was reintroduced in 2010. Offshore detention reached its peak in 2014, with over 2,400 people held in detention centres, including 222 children. At the end of March 2016, almost 1,000 people remained in Manus and up to 1,200 people on Nauru.

These actions contravene international law, with our “paltry commitment to the Refugee Convention” deemed one of the worst in the world. Detention makes little sense, given that 90% of cases are found to be “genuine refugees.” The majority of asylum seekers have been in detention for at least two years. Even after they were released into the community, they were initially not allowed to work.

In 2014, the Government offered migrants up to $10,000 to go back home to face certain persecution; a scheme that was resolutely condemned by human rights experts. The Government simultaneously cut legal aid to refugees, making it even harder for them to receive informed support.

The ensuing health damage suffered by asylum seekers is woefully inhumane. Australia’s humanitarian program has been criminally pared back, along with our collective morality. We must not accept this unfair system in the name of so-called “Australian values.”

In London, emigrate to Australia sign is in the foreground, and people walk in the background
Your bridge to Australia. Your bridge to Australia. Begin your dream today.

Continue reading Australia’s Unfair and Inhumane Refugee Policies

Art and Injustice

This visual sociology for the month of April is dedicated to Aboriginal and migrant artworks, plus a special apperance by the Sociology of Trolleys from inner western Sydney. First, let’s start with a panel discussion I spoke on.

Panel: Race and Conscious Dating

On 26 April, I was a panellist on a thoughtful discussion about race and dating with journalist and documentary filmmaker Santilla Chingaipe and multi-talented author and editor Andy Quan. Continue reading Art and Injustice

For the Next Generation

Rejoice, for it is our visual sociology for February-March 2017! There’s revolutionary women, the tyranny of climate change, and the resilience of Aboriginal people.

Women challenge art

Revolutionary women artists featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 5 February.

“Untitled (for Mary Webb),” by A.D.S Donaldson

Australian artist Mary Webb was well known in European art circles but her contributions have been forgotten by Australian history. This piece reproduces Webb’s photographic creation using carpet. Continue reading For the Next Generation

Sociology of Gender in Jean Paul Gaultier’s Work

The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, in Melbourne, made some interesting comments on gender.

Gaultier’s evolving style blends ideas of masculinity and femininity, but at the same time is still centred on mainstream ideas of heterosexual women: showing off curves on (mostly) slender bodies.

JPG has used gender non-conforming models throughout his career, including transgender women, and other body types and femininities seldom seen in high fashion, such as “plus sized” models. This is referenced as part of the exhibition, but it would have been more interesting to see this displayed via the mannequins.

The room dedicated to the artist’s punk roots was an absolute delight, and I spent way too much time in the futuristic-themed room displaying his film designs. I was ecstatic to see the designs from Peter Greenaway’s The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover.

The stories of the designer’s life were my favourite aspects of the exhibition, giving context for his lifelong interest for evoking traditional Western styles of femininity using corsets.

JPG is a fascinating figure that has commanded much academic attention, due to his contradictory reflection of art and commercialism and for speaking out on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) issues; and not without controversy.

Yabun Festival 2017

Djiringanj Dancers, a group of women cultural performers, singing about the “West Wind” at the Corroboree grounds, during the Yabun Festival.

The Yabun Festival is a celebration for Survival Day. The 26 of January is a national holiday that marks the day British ships arrived in Australia and began the genocide of Indigenous Australians. Survival Day is a day led by Indigenous Australians who affirm the resilience, creativity and excellence of First Australians. This year, the Invasion Day Protests, which aim to change the date and meaning of Australia Day, ended by protesters joining Yabun at the end of the march to enjoy music, stalls, cultural performances, speeches and more.

Continue reading Yabun Festival 2017