Friday, September 25, 2009

Grand Final week

CoUNTess has been terribly busy of late and apologizes for the thin postings. There is a running sheet accumulating post topics that require number crunching that keeps getting longer and longer; thanks to those readers who post-in suggestions they will be replied to. We aim to post according to schedule, but sometimes something comes along that one just can't ignore for its unapologetic and open discrimination against women artists.

That's the 2010 Basil Sellers Art Prize

CoUNTess is not wincing, as the press release suggests about chaffed thighs (thats easily remedied), but rather flinching at the blatant gender imbalance of 12 men and 3 women (two of whom collaborate) in the list of finalists. Dencorub would be a soothing balm amidst this list's overwhelming smell of jock straps - the line-up for the second $100,000 Basil Sellers Art Prize. $100,000 to anyone is a windfall and, most likely, a life changing event. And with the statistics we've gathered, on this occasion it is seemingly a straight-up fantasy for the women artists who entered the prize. It can't just be CoUNTess who is wondering, why so few women artists?

While the judges selected 1 in 16 male artists, they effectively chose 1 in 133 women artists. That the collaborative duo are women is also significant in terms of increasing the total women in the list of finalists from 1 to 3. Without knowing the gender make up of the other collaborators CoUNTess is not in a position to effectively crunch those numbers.

So congratulations to Perth based collaborative duo Tarryn Gill and Pilar Mata Dupont and Melbourne photographer Ponch Hawkes. Bookmakers would go bankrupt the odds - 1 in 133.

The press release boasts "...On paper, the list of finalists looks diverse, even eclectic." How can 85% male artists be diverse? They may be eclectic, but lets judge that when we see the show.

CoUNTess is privy to the knowledge that some excellent works by women artists were submitted and is aghast at the flagrantly biased outcome of the finalist selection, and wonders why or how this judging panel could possibly agree to it and what message do they think it sends to the general public about women's art, and the direct message it sends to women artists who applied or may aspire to apply in the future.

The mantra of sport being a national obsession is at media saturation point over the next week, with grand finals in Melbourne and Sydney. Sport is an arena where media attention and its subsequent flow-ons of sponsorship — and therefore income and support — are severely weighted towards men and their achievements. It seems that art is very comfortable in this position as well.

The list of entrants shows a split of 60/40 - a fairly average outcome in many of CoUNTesses previous number crunches, but then you take a look at how that pie really divvies up... It would be interesting to know the gender breakdown of the entrants who had re-applied in this round, and compare these to last years numbers and see what stories they might tell?


Anonymous said...

That is Off woman! They are a disgrace to the equal rights lobby. Sanctions need to be implemented, does anyone care? Are there any politicians out there we can lobby? Tanya Plibersek was supposrtive of former art's lobbies. So depressing.

Anonymous said...

this is a pretty sad outcome. it is like it is saying that the womens work was just not good enough which i just don't believe is possible. but thats what this kind of outcome reinforces, women just don't make good enough work to be selected for a 100,000 prize or that men are so naturally connected to sport?

Anonymous said...

it is such a stereotype. shame on those judges and the prize for allowing this to happen and the ian potter and melbourne university

Anonymous said...

the judges and the prize can chose whoever they like it is about the best art isn't it?

Anonymous said...

very unsporting and downright unaustralian if you ask me

Robbed said...

Great article in art monthly CoUNTess three cheers it is about time this inequality was out in the open

Natalie King said...

Dear CoUNTesses,
Keep counting. I wonder if you have thought about doing stats on new publications such as Current, Beep...crackle by Stuart Koop and Blair French and Daniel Palmer's Twelve Australian Photo Artists? Good to read Melissa Miles' account in Art Monthly especially in light of disavowal/discomfort with feminism in current Art & Australia. Let's keep the dialogue alive.
Natalie King

shocked but not surprised said...

I think the Basil Sellers art prize message is that women are basically the spectators in the sport scenario so couldn't possibly have anything genuine to contribute as they are not really interested in that anyway, its about sport and sport is predominantly about men. But even the AFL website claims " The AFL is committed towards providing information and pathways for women and girls to be involved in the great game of Australian football" which is more than the Basil Sellers Art Prize and its associated institutions can claim

Unknown said...

Makes you just wanna give up completely.
It's as if feminism NEVER happened.

Anonymous said...

this kind of outcome shows the obvious agenda of the prize being about worshipping sport. Sport is such a huge part of a mans life even if they position themselves outside of it they are forced culturally to have some kind of relationship to it. Where I have met many women who claim they are just not interested and quite frankly I believe them.

so naturally men are going to make work that in one sense or another is in awe of sport. the judges are going to pick work that reflects their own idealism about sport, particularly as some of the judges are actual elite sports people so i doubt they are going to be against it.

Anonymous said...

Sure Anonymous, the judges can choose whoever they (or is it you) like...this discussion is about what these choices reflects about the judges' attitudes, and sadly what is revealed lends the prize an unsavoury macho flavour.

Anonymous said...

What amazes me about the poor representation of women in the forthcoming Sellers Prize is that there were two female curators on that selection panel. really, they should be ashamed of themselves. Just goes to show it's a complex set of circumstances that leads to the entrenched inequity that is being discussed here.

The Basil Sellers heralds a new low point for Australian Art, not only because of the current line up being skewed towards male artists (and young attractive female artists wearing bathing suits); but also because it is such a potent example of the museum dictating the content of the work they present as artists are increasingly marching to the tune of the latest creative fundraising concept of a curator.

As the previous Basil Sellers exhibition attested, it is a recipe for bad art.

Julie said...

hey countess - this time the girls took the 2010 prize - can't help but wonder if yr counting had some influence.
BTW - Piper Press has a deliberate policy of publishing monographs of women artists.

Rona Chadwick Artist said...

what's new? when do we use the numbers to start developing strategies to address the imbalance?
i would love to be part of a group prepared to work on this.