editorial rt94

Fiona Foley,  Opium #5 - Labour, etching on paper, printer Michael Kempson

Fiona Foley, Opium #5 – Labour, etching on paper, printer Michael Kempson

Fiona Foley, Opium #5 – Labour, etching on paper, printer Michael Kempson

Photographed in Tasmania, where opium crops are harvested for use in medicines, the pods on the cover of RealTime 94 appear in Fiona Foley’s video entitled Bliss [see article], part of Forbidden, the MCA and UQ Art Museum retrospective of the work of this leading Australian artist. Opium pods and flowers figure in many of Foley’s creations—on screen, etched, cast and sculpted they are seductively beautiful evocations of complex historical relations between Aboriginal and Chinese peoples at the end of the 19th century, between opium and the law, as well as reminders of the enduring effects of the drug on contemporary global society. Not a few ironies abound in the fact that the greater part of the world’s illicit opium supply still comes from war-torn Afghanistan. Marrugeku’s Burning Daylight is another show, this time a large scale multimedia performance, that draws history into the present, unleashing the ghosts of late 19th and early 20th century Broome to put current anxieties in perspective and to counter forgetting [see article]. Again, the issues addressed are not black-and-white, but interculturally complex. Nuanced thinking is needed more than ever. That would make for an excellent Xmas gift in these absolutist, un-nuanced times: “Send no gifts, give no money. Just think, complexly!” Whatever your ethical, spiritual or aesthetic persuasion, all of us at RealTime wish you a happy holiday and look forward with you to a great year for the arts in 2010.

RealTime issue #94 Dec-Jan 2009 pg. 1

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

10 December 2009