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?