Week 13: Product Review – Pop Culture

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    • #2775

      Springtime! It was with a skip in my step that I headed over to Southbank to road-test Arts Queensland‘s new app, “The Culturalist”.

      On a bright and breezy Sunday morning, armed with my smart phone and some happy springtime attitude, this brand new app promised to let me playlist my cultural experiences. Whatever that meant! It sounded good.

      The purpose of the app is to provide you with tools for exploring Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct, showcasing itineraries and activities. It seemed to me this was a good idea – I have now spent a few years in Brisbane but my experiences of the precinct have been patchy. A guided tour in my pocket seemed like an excellent idea.


      The Culturalist App
      Image: The Culturalist 2015

      With a glorious cloud of blue jacaranda flowers billowing around me, I was lured by the jacarandas in the app’s “Popular” playlist advertising QAGOMA’s Australian Collection.

      The three buttons at the foot of the page were handy – I checked the location of the exhibition on the map and was given a route to navigate to QAGOMA. A moment was spent on the website checking out the exhibition blurb. But the worth of the app proved itself when it gave me a message saying the usual exhibition was unavailable, sort of, due to an intervention by a major installation by indigenous artist Brook Andrew. Interesting! I’d like to have been able to tap on that message to see a preview, but I made my way to QAGOMA, and I’m glad I did.

      QAGOMA: Installation of artist Brook Adams work

      Image: QAGOMA, installtion of artist Brook Andrew’s work

      The 19th and 20th century Australian art I had expected to see was still there but panels of Andrew’s work had been attached to the walls to form the intervention, a background against which the original collection was then rehung. It was fabulous! The brilliant stripes of colour in the artist’s work reflect the chevron pattern that Wiradjuri people paint on their skin, or carve into trees to mark gravesites.

      “… the pattern decisively asserts its presence in the narratives that form Australian history …. It places an Aboriginal body as central and foundational to such narratives and builds a more layered, complex conversation concerning the encounters between indigenous and settler cultures.” QAGOMA blog

      I loved the concept and the extraordinary way the “high art” paintings and colonial black and white photographs contrasted with the bold colours and design of the indigenous artists’ work. Colour and style clashed and reformed to create a new experience of understanding both art forms and the very eloquent story that, together, they told.

      I was reminded of the conversation with Leena Riethmuller about the distinction between pop art and high art, and whether distinguishing the two was still relevant or useful, as I had suggested in the Twitter chat. Seeing the way in which this indigenous artists’ work added another layer of meaning to the existing collection of traditional European-style art, emphasised for me the fluid nature of art, telling new stories by combining our shared cultural histories. It’s a tough call for a librarian to catalogue this kind of experience.

      But meanwhile, back at the app …..

      My time was up and I needed to move on. Far from having a guided tour of the precinct I’d spent my time happily absorbed in thinking about Australian art and history and all the different ways they can be expressed and combined to add value and meaning to the stories of our country.

      I think that means the app was a success! So far, anyway. I’ll keep you posted about my next excellent adventure ….



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    • #2960
      Paola Beretta

      Robynne, I enjoyed your post very much… especially as I have just downloaded ‘Culturalist’ myself. I loved how you approached your visit to QAGOMA as an adventure. In my opinion that is the best way to approach a cultural event, as you never know what delightful surprises might be in store! Great post, thank you for sharing!

      I also wanted to comment that I have enjoyed our interactions on this site very much throughout the semester. You have been a very insightful colleague and I look forward to keeping in touch throughout the course or via Twitter.  Wishing you all the best for the end of the year! Paola

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