On Sunday I attended the Art Melbourne07 art show at the Exhibition Building in Carlton. There was a lot of art to see, and a healthy attendance. This post requires the following digression: I am at heart a trouble maker, and I often admire other trouble makers. Now, on with the story.

Hazel Dooney is an Australian artist whose work I find fascinating. A version of Dooney’s new work Sex Tourist was on display at the show. I did not know this, and was thrilled to be able to see it. This is what it looked like from the outside.

dooney sex and censorship

Dooney documents the hysteria surrounding her work in her blog: Self vs Self. Sex Tourist is Dooney’s response to Michel Houellebecq‘s novel Platform, which examines the theme of western sex tourism in Asia. This is like saying football is about green grass. Houellebecq is a solitary genius of nihilism and sex. He is also one of the most hilarious wits in the history of literature.

The curtain was put up by horrified exhibition staff. The word ‘censored’ was written by Dooney herself in defiant protest. The story has been widely covered, including by the ABC.

If art is not sometimes offensive it is boring. Not that I think the work is offensive; it is vibrant and beautiful and I enjoyed it, particularly the new watercolours. The bed in the work is similar to Tracey Emin‘s My Bed, but originality is only one aspect of a work. Context is crucial. If you wanted pure originality at the show, the endless Basquiat replicas were cause for despair.

Sex Tourist was the best thing about the show. The combination of paintings and objects was fun and intriguing. I admire Dooney’s fearless bravery in self belief and expression. Hazel, you rock!

sex and censorship

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