This is my sociological reflection over the exhibition, Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age. There was only one woman artist in the exhibition, White Dutch artist Rachel Ruysch. There were no people of colour, except in one landscape depicting slavery of African people, in a work celebrating the growth of Amsterdam. Other than this, no other references to colonialism, even though there was a giant ship in the exhibition and a landscape of Brazil referencing an “outpost.”
There was a painting of the Burghers, a group descendent from Sri Lanka and various European origins, especially Potugese and Dutch, but the exhibition makes no reference to class or race. The term Burgher derives from the Dutch word for “citizen” or “town dweller”, mixed with the French word “bourgeois” which refers to the upper class. The Burghers were actually upwardly mobile middle class who made a good living as merchants and commissioned paintings to reflect their modest wealth. While most were of mixed racial background, they are painted as White.
Finally, in one of the photos you see Rembrandt’s painting “Bust of a Man in Oriental Dress,” depicting a White man wearing a turban – an example of White upper class appropriating the culture and religion of Others, but the exhibition explains this as “exotic looking garb.”The exhibition is excellent, but like many, it whitewashes history and replicates racial, gender and various inequalities by papering over relations of power in art.
The exhibition is on in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age.
[Photos: 1/ woman with long white hair stares at “Bust of a Man in Oriental Dress. 2/ a White man and Asian woman outside the exhibition. 3/ A young man walks towards the camera as other art vistors wander around the gallery. 4/ people take photos of the large paintings on display. 5/ a bald man stares closely at photographs of Rembrandt. 6/ a man and a woman look at a large golden painting featuring architecture. 7/ visitors walk around the busy exhibition.]
Yes women-centred films! 29 + 1, written and directed by a woman, Kearen Pang is a wonderful film about two women who’ve never officially met but who share a birthday, and eventually “form a deep and invisible bond.“ The film is set in 2005 and it plays with memory and time. Christy has a hectic but glamorous job, a long term boyfriend and supportive friends. Christy doesn’t want to get married and is proud of her independence. Her life is full of light colours, bodily discipline and stifling routine. Continue reading 29 + 1: Film Review
When I first arrived in Brisbane for a work trip, I was impressed to see braille on every major street sign. Sydney has many such signs; Melbourne and other cities have fewer or none.
On my second day in Brisbane, I came across an elderly woman who said the lift to cross this major bridge was broken and she was braving up the stairs to get to her bus stop. I asked if she wanted help but she said “I can do this. I’ll just go slow.” She said she couldn’t believe the lift had not been looked into. Many other people were struggling without the lift.
Brisbane is not alone here;
I travel a lot around Australia and few major cities are planned around accessibility, despite our diverse needs as a society, and in spite of the fact that our population is ageing rapidly. This is as much an issue of urban planning as it is about equity and social inclusion. A ripe area for applied sociology to make a useful contribution.
[Photo 1: street sign at night with braille reads “George Street to Brisbane Square. Photo 2: Aerial view of busy Brisbane road.]
Learn more about my day job with Science in Australia Gender Equity, which is working to improve gender outcomes for all women, as well as improving workplace culture for all. We also have a special focus on increasing the participation and inclusion of transgender people and Indigenous Australians, and other underrepresented groups. Continue reading Gender Equity in Science Forum
Lore by Bangarra Dance Theatre brings the dance, culture and stories of the Torres Strait Islands to broader Australian audiences at the Sydney Opera House. In this gorgeous and uplifting show, Elma Kris plays the lead and she is just exquisite. Some of the songs are in the Ka La Lagau Ya language. My favourite parts are the beautiful turtle egg sequence as well as “Freezer” with the dancers emerging from the chilly freezer in the supermarket in contrast to the hot air outside. Continue reading Bangarra: Lore
NAIDOC Week began as a celebration by the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, to recognise “the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.“ The NAIDOC tradition stretches back to the 1920s when Indigenous Australian activists protested Australia Day, both due to its colonial history and ongoing discrimination. Indigenous people did not get full rights to vote until 1962 in most states, with Queensland being the last state to grant this right in 1965. Two years later, the Australian referendum amended the Constitution to finally grant Indigenous people citizenship.
This year, NAIDOC began on the 6th of July and ends on the 13th of July. This year’s theme is, Serving Country: Centenary & Beyond. Events will commemorate the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have served in Australia’s Defence Forces.
Happy International Women’s Day! I’ll do a couple of posts on this over the next day to commemorate this glorious day for both my time zone in Australia and the rest of you in other parts of the world. I want to start with the challenges that lie ahead. Our STEM Women community has been publishing a series of posts celebrating women in sciences, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). We started with a look at the number of Nobel prize laureates. We shared our post to our other science community, Science on Google+, and faced phenomenal backlash.
Various sexist arguments followed, ranging from: “Women aren’t as smart as men” to “This probably isn’t sexism, it’s something else (but somehow it’s women’s fault still).” None of these people presented evidence, but rather they relied on biased personal anecdotes.This thread was incredibly counter-productive; rather than engaging with the science presented, people wanted to argue that they don’t think that this is an example in sexism. Continue reading “Science Needs Women”
Day of Mourning – Australia Hall, Sydney, 1938. Protest of 150 years of colonialism.
On 26 January , as Australia celebrates the 150th anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove, Indigenous Australians attend a Day of Mourning and Protest in Sydney. The mourners wait for the sesquicentenary procession to pass, then march in silent protest from the Sydney Town Hall to an Australian Aborigines Conference at the Australian Hall. The Australian Aborigines’ League and Aborigines Progressive Association of New South Wales use the meeting to speak out about the denial of civil rights for Indigenous Australians. The protest is the culmination of years of campaigning by Aboriginal leaders including William Ferguson, William Cooper and John Patten. Patten and Ferguson circulate a pamphlet, Aborigines Claim Citizen Rights.