Is Trump the greatest president of all time?

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Self Portrait as an Ultra Nationalist, 2013, Abdul Abdullah, c-type print 155 x 110cm

The phrase ‘It’s a small world’ is being given a whole new meaning with Donald Trump in the White House.

Instead of standing as a beacon on the hill, Trump is taking us down into a winding valley, where we can’t see too far ahead. Where we don’t know what’s around the corner.

And he’s walling off the valley, so it’s hard to reach out to others – for trade and for the truth.

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Jail Mate, 2010, Liam Benson, c-type print, 61 x 91cm

It’s with that mindset, that I went to see Young and Free at the Bega Regional Art Gallery. I made the trek down south because the exhibition was showing many of my favourite contemporary Australian artists including Tony Albert, Joan Ross, Alex Seton and Abdul Abdullah.

Bega Regional Art Gallery is a tiny space – and it’s doing some really brave work. To bring together such diverse artists and to challenge us on what it means to be Australian – in a fairly remote regional town – is no small feat.

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Detail; Standing Mannequin Target, 2007,  Alex Seton, Marble, 32 x 48 x 200cm

Add to that the nature of the artwork on display. There’s no oils on canvas, there’s no watercolours, it’s not popularist or easy to digest.

It says a lot of about the town of Bega and the gallery itself. It’s only by having these kinds of exhibitions in these kinds of places that we can hope to have rational sound conversations about the kind of Australia we want to live in.

It’s the kind of work, that if shown in the United States of America, could easily become tagged as degenerate art.

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Maybe I am the bad guy, 2013, Abdul Abdullah, c-type print 110 x 110cm

I’m not alarmist, I’m not prepping for the end of the world, but I am alert. I am watching. And we should all keep a very close eye on what’s happening around us.

It’s through art that we can make bold, strong and compelling statements. It’s through art that we can rebel and taunt and struggle into the dying night.

Let’s make sure we always have the freedom to express ourselves – in any way we want – in any space we choose.

 

 

 

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