Biennale 2

Sydney April 2016 (9 photos)

You enter the room and sit at your desk. There is an important matter at hand.

“The year is 2040. There have been riots in the streets of London after Britain has run out of petrol because of an oil crisis in the Middle East. Protesters have attacked public buildings. Several policemen have died. Consequently, the Government has deployed the Army to curb the protests. After two days the protests have stopped but twenty-five protesters have been killed by the Army.

You are the Prime Minister.

Write the script for a speech to be broadcast to the nation in which you explain why employing the Army against violent protesters was the only option available to you and one which was both necessary and moral.”

Biennale 1

Around you is the sound of explosions and gunfire from a screen where a re-creation of the 2008 Mumbai attacks is played.

This time, you are part of an art installation.

In reality, this was a question asked of 12-13 year old boys sitting a scholarship examination for Eton College, an institution that has educated 19 of Britain’s Prime Ministers, including the current incumbent, David Cameron. The paper was sat in April 2011, shortly after the student riots in which Conservative Campaign Headquarters and the Treasury were attacked and, by coincidence, the summer riots in which David Cameron warned that the Army may be deployed. The tutor for admissions may also have had in mind David Cameron’s apology for the killing of 14 unarmed protesters on Bloody Sunday.

This was part of the scene at The Embassy of Non Participation, one of the 6 themed venues for the 20th Biennale of Sydney, currently on until June 5, 2016. This is Australia’s largest contemporary visual arts event, showcasing innovative and thought-provoking works from around the world.

This year’s theme is: The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.

This title was drawn from a comment by science fiction author William Gibson. It speaks to the fact that the exhibition is about the now. It also acts as a reminder that access to information, to the internet, and to other more basic resources, is by no means universal; many people are denied the opportunity to benefit from (or participate in) these new spaces where information can be exchanged.

Here are a few more random shots, as an aide memoire of the diversity of the event …

Biennale 7

Biennale 6

Above: Allegory of Charity 2015, by Nina Beier.

Biennale 3

Biennale 9

Biennale 8

Biennale 5

Biennale 4

Above: Abstraction of Confusion 2016, by Taro Shinoda.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

The British Prime Minister


70 thoughts on “The British Prime Minister

  1. KG says:

    I am always a little sceptical about the future and I know I would have definitely have not written much for that question. Beautiful displays as always 🙂

  2. Such an insightful take on the Embassy exhibitions. As usual, well done with the photos. Such clarity in them. It is great to see that we are able to get up close and really close to exhibits and their message these days. Allegory of Charity 2015, by Nina Beier. I’m assuming that’s coffee coming out of the cups…not sure what to make of it but I’m guessing it’s a reference to many of us reaching for that cup of coffee again and again without much thought.

  3. Wow, how visionary of having an exhibit like this one! It gets you to think a little bit deeper. But, why 40 years, not 10 or 20 year from now. 🙂
    What a perfect take on for the future theme, Dragon. Great photo captures, as always.

  4. mtltechwriter says:

    Certainly, a very interesting view or perspective on a future although a very hypothetical one nevertheless, you’ve made the grade with some excellent images to compliment your narrative!

  5. What a very good interpretation of WP photo challenge this week. I’m still struggling to think of something. I love coming to all these interesting art events that you show case so well. What a terrifying situation to be placed in if you were the PM. The worst thing is, it is happening in other parts of the world. “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed”.

  6. Great post as always – very thought provoking. I would be so curious to see some of the answers for the entrance exam (though they would need tutoring on tax returns too!!)

    • Thanks Lisa. It would be fascinating to see some of the answers. I wonder have many of the boys got a “pass” mark on it? Creative accounting is probably already a subject somewhere. 🙂

    • No, the white room is the art installation. You had to remove your shoes to enter and only 5 people at a time were allowed into the room.

      Lucky with some good timing. I only saw this exhibit last Friday. 🙂

  7. Most unusual art indeed! 🙂 I’m very glad I’m not the Prime Minister, and neither will I ever be – *sigh of relief* But for those boys at Eaton it kind of makes sense for them to be asked such a question, considering a large number of government men seem to have an education there. Not sure I’d be too thrilled if I had a son attending that school who was asked that question in a test. I’d be wondering if someone was trying to target certain boys for possible future government material. Politics and governments are probably my most loathed subject on this planet. Organised religion comes second. 😐

    The room with the door open looks very sinister, you certainly captured the atmosphere well. What was that about?

    • It seems we feel the same about politics. I’d be interested to know what the curriculum at Eton involves/includes. What makes it such a politician’s factory?

      That door is a “replica” of Marcel Duchamp’s bespoke Parisian apartment door. One door hinged on a jamb shared by 2 doorways. A door that closes in one direction opens in another.

      • It’s most certainly a politicians factory! I often wonder if it was to some extent the inspiration for the Harry Potter stories, but a different kind of magic!! 😉 No ordinary people would want their boys going to that school – they’re welcome to it!

  8. Powerful exhibit. I’d definitely check this out.
    Sorry for my absence…I’ve been off on the zaniest adventure of them all. Just now getting time to catch up with your posts.

  9. Pingback: Abstractions of Art | Etcetera Etcetera Etcetera

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