Art from the lounge room

Issue 

Art from the lounge room

By Philippa Stanford

BRISBANE — "If the unemployed are dole bludgers what the fuck are the idle rich?" asks one of the exhibits in a political poster display at the Queensland Art Gallery. The posters cover 1970-90 and will be on display until August 14.

There are many Queensland posters, although they are gathered from all over Australia. The display covers many themes, but an obvious gap is the subject of lesbian and gay rights struggles.

In a world where art, like everything else, is treated as a commodity, this exhibition shows that it can and perhaps should play a political role by presenting a message and challenging ideas and the status quo. Art has long played a political role in non-Western countries. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo are well-known for their political art.

Seeing these posters (some of which I helped to screen-print) behind glass at the state gallery is a strange experience, as they all represent living struggles, most of which are still going on. Artistic recognition has come before political victory.

The curator has attempted to present this as living art, and not just a collection of colour and post-modernist imagery. Visitors are invited to view some of the posters in their social context: a mock-up typical West End student/activist household complete with incense, sarongs and second-hand fridge covered in campaign stickers. Although disconcerted that the gallery was able to replicate my lounge room so easily, I thought this was a good addition to the exhibition. n

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