How are we to understand the nexus of art, televisual imagery and the politics of democracy in the early twenty-first century, at a time when “democracy” has supposedly reached an apotheosis in global politics, and documentary imagery on television screens has returned as a core trope within contemporary art? And what role is art sometimes made to play in promoting certain political discourses within problematic contexts? In 2004, these questions emerged as central to the inauguration of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest, Romania – a museum whose location and date of inauguration were dictated by Romania’s then-Social Democratic government, in the run-up to the country’s important 2004 elections and its accession to the European Union. Invited to participate in the museum’s inauguration, two Swiss-based artists, Christoph Buchel and Gianni Motti, devised an untitled installation that took “democracy” as its subject. A close examination of this work reveals a subtle critique of television’s place, and installation’s potential, within histories of postcommunist art and politics, as well as of the various presumptions made – of the artists, of television, and of encounters between “East” and “West” – in the name of “democracy”.
This essay discusses the writing and personalities surrounding the 1981 establishment of the Australian art magazine, Art & Text, and traces its progression under Paul Taylor’s editorship up to his relocation to New York. During this period, Art & Text published Taylor’s own essays and, more importantly, those of other writers and artists — Meaghan Morris, Paul Foss, Philip Brophy, Imants Tillers, Rex Butler, Edward Colless — all articulating a consistent and complex postmodern position. The magazine’s founder and editor, Paul Taylor, personified the shattering impact of postmodernism upon the Australian art world as well as postmodernism’s limitations. Taylor facilitated a new theoretical framework for the discussion of Australian art, one that continues to dominate the internationalist aspirations of Australian art writers. He produced temporarily convincing solutions to problems that earlier critics had wrestled with unsuccessfully, in particular the twin problems of provincialism, and the relationship of Australian to international art.