Two years ago I posted about my artporn night in which I made my way around the Eternal City on its mess of a public transport system to indulge myself in free entry to its many collections and to partake in the atmosphere of the White Night.
I thought perhaps this year I was due for another porna(r)thon and was toying with the idea of doing another run of sites.
This morning I perused the lists of spaces I have yet to hit here and began to plan my evening out with expectation, but by this afternoon the mood had shifted, what with the revelation of the awful news out of Brindisi in beautiful Puglia today.
I will not make light of the event that occured in Brindisi this morning. For anyone who is unaware, a sixteen year old girl by the name of Melissa Bassi was killed, and at least another seven school kids injured after two bombs were planted at a secondary school and detonated in time for Saturday classes.
The mayor of Brindisi has suggested the Mafia is responsible for this atrocity. The school was named after the wife of one of Italy's greatest anti mafia judges (who subsequently was killed by one of the arms of the sprawling organised crime networks that continues to exist in this country today). As I write this, I can't get confirmation of anything, other than the fact that this was a particularly heinous and cowardly attack in which a teenager has lost her life, her entire future. Her family and friends, and those of the other victims will never be able to forget this day, and in the case of Melissa's circle, never see her again, never watch her go through life as she achieved whatever it was that she was going to.
The bombings were obviously designed to devastate a country already on the economic and social brink, designed to further instill fear and panic, to help maintain the climate of fear that aids and abets organised crime. Conspiracists will tell you that the Mafia continues to exist in this country because it is impossible to differentiate one from the other; they are inextricably intertwined.
The 90 state and private museums will keep. I will get to choose which ones I will gorge myself on at another more appropriate time. I'm lucky like that. I'm breathing. But Melissa is not, all because some cowards wanted to make a point and to spur their own ends. RIP Melissa, and deepest condolensces not only to those directly affected, their family and friends, but also to those throughout this country who deserve to live without this constant level of insanity.
A long, long time ago, I posted about moves to protect the public mural in Melbourne by Keith Haring. That was back in 2010. Today, I happened to be doing some flicking around the net, and I came across this update in a Melbourne GLBT mag as well as a friend of mine in the society pages (again. He is always in there!).
It seems at least that Arts Victoria and Heritage Victoria are onboard and that surrounding redevelopment of the site is being done in a way in which the dignity of Keith's artwork is at least being maintained. Apparently there's a plan in the works people to help protect a bit of old skool street art.
Back in 2003, Banksy made his way to Melbourne, arguably around the time that the stencil scene there was beginning to organically peak before it developed into a mini cottage industry.
Banksy's trip to Melbourne occured at a time when Melbournians still viewed stencil art as a pesky disadvantage of their climate and of city life, long before its value was appreciated by a wider audience. Banksy has since been recognised as a bit of a genius, and where years ago people used to get up in arms about stencil art in public spaces, today people are getting up in arms because not enough is being done to protect the more infamous and better executed works. If you trawl the internets then undoubtedly you would have come across the mini media storm that a plumber generated by drilling into one of Banksy's rats. Does it count as a case of veternary science?
Melbourne has made the mistake before both intentionally and unintentionally.
Part of the problem is that we still equate value with the economics of street art. Street art is not as Melbourne City Council and the like believe, about maintaining an outdoor museum to perpetuate the big names of the scene and to capitalize on tourism; thats a happy byproduct; its about encouraging and protecting a different form of social engagement. which is often witty and visually stimulating. As with everything in the public domain, there are issues to overcome, including issues about property rights, but, its not rocket science. The latest incident is a case that could have been easily avoided, and instead it turned into an embarrassment for all involved, and a great loss to the community, because those rats enrinched their environment. They weren't merely scavengers.
The world lost another icon this week with the passing of Donna Summer.
It's interesting how in the late seventies she was quickly crowned the Queen of Disco, spent much of the eighties in a dated wilderness, and thereafter made a few odd stabs back at the mainstream every now and then, by which time her contributions to music were more secure, the threads picked up by successive generations.
Unfortunately, one of the problems with dance music is that it often dates, and the classic Bad Girls album which launched hits like the title track, Macarthur Park and Hot Stuff was an example how time can often be cruel; for the two decades that followed its release in 1979 it was the stuff of cliches, of those disco bumper stickers and the kind of music that you would have probably expected to hear in some club that time seemed to have forgotten.
But the reality is that as much as Donna Summer's music defined and was defined by the era that it ushered in, her effect was, and continues to be, felt. Pop today would be impossible to imagine without her Moroder collobarations like I Feel Love and Love To Love You which basically rewrote the rules on what dance and pop music were about, and continue to be sampled ad nauseum year after year from all spectrums of artists.
Much is said of Donna Summer's gay audience, but in reality, Donna was an every woman; her music transcended boundaries and borders the way that ABBA's did, and the relationship with gays was not always a comfortable fit, particularly in the face of the confusion that the emergence of AIDS brought with it in the early eighties, at which time, some particularly vitriolic comments on her behalf seemed to fly in the face of an endless Gay Summer. It would be unfair to paint her as a cliched gay artist, especially as much of her current fan base were only born around the time of her ascent even if there is something genetically in her music that makes it so irresistable to so many GLBTs (though probably no more than non GLBTs). If anything, they have helped sustain her appeal and importance where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and their ilk have failed to do so (repeatedly, year after year). They might not have always supported her like she thy, but, they always appreciated and admired her, fuelled by their own younger memories of her amazing voice, those songs, and the way in which her music often seemed to suggest some happy marriage between dance, liberation and sex. RIP Donna Summer..
Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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