Optimism in the arts

The Brisbane GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art) has a new show starting mid-November. It’s called Optimism and it’s about contemporary Australian artists. I really like the poster, and we should be quite impressed with GoMA’s record this year.

First, Andy Warhol, then Picasso’s Collection. Both very popular (Warhol got over 120 000 individual visits) and this shows that GoMA management are thinking hard about what sort of ambitious major exhibitions will bring in a lot of interest from the public. I think this is a very positive way for a big cultural institution to act, and it’s one of the reasons I feel optimistic.

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3 Responses to “Optimism in the arts”

  1. 1 keza

    There is some discussion of the notion of optimism and its role in changing the world in the “More Great News from Iraq” thread.

    See these   comments :


    Steve argues that the pessimism /optimism distinction is not of great importance in bringing about change, and can even lead to horrible consequences. He also points to various progressive people who have been pessimistic/downhearted at times.

    I think the point about optimism is that it’s a question of world view and maintaining the attitude that winning is possible, no matter what the immediate difficulties.   False optimism about specific events is a different matter altogether and similarly it’s possible to be pessimistic about specific events while not becoming pessimistic about the future in general.

    The “doom and gloom” mentality is fundamentally disempowering  because it leads to the attitude that it’s just not possible to do anything because the forces of evil are so strong.   (That sort of powerless pessimism and helplessness is also a defining characteristic of clinical depression).

  2. 2 byork

    David, I just love the gallery’s poster. I remember last year hearing Phillip Adams talking on his Australian radio program, Late Night live, and referring in passing to “that horrible optimism that’s going around”. Some people actually seem to think that being negative is left-wing. Left-whinge perhaps. But not really any kind of left outlook.

    I find optimism in musical lyrics, even in cases where the singer has political views with which I disagree. Musically, I’m a fan of Jimmy Cliff, the reggae singer. He has songs that could be anthems, such as “You can get it if you really want it” http://www.allthelyrics.com/lyrics/jimmy_cliff/you_can_get_it_if_you_really_want-lyrics-388781.html , “I can see clearly now” http://www.allthelyrics.com/lyrics/jimmy_cliff/i_can_see_clearly_now-lyrics-388821.html , “Wonderful world beautiful people” http://www.allthelyrics.com/lyrics/jimmy_cliff/wonderful_world_beautiful_people-lyrics-484699.html and “The Harder They Come”. Here are the lyrics to “The Harder they come” (to those who haven’t heard the song: THINK REGGAE RHYTHM!):

    Well they tell me of a pie up in the sky
    Waiting for me when I die
    But between the day you’re born and when you die
    They never seem to hear even your cry

    So as sure as the sun will shine
    I’m gonna get my share now of what’s mine
    And then the harder they come the harder they’ll fall, one and all
    Ooh the harder they come the harder they’ll fall, one and all

    Verse 2:
    Well the repressors are trying to keep me down
    Trying to drive me underground
    And they think that they have got the battle won
    I say forgive them Lord, they know not what they’ve done


    ‘Cause as sure as the sun will shine
    I’m gonna get my share now, what’s mine
    And then the harder they come, the harder they fall, one and all
    Ooh, the harder they come harder they fall, one and all

    Verse 3
    And I keep on fighting for the things I want
    Though I know that when you’re dead you can’t
    But I’d rather be a free man in my grave
    Than living as a puppet or a slave

    So as sure as the sun will shine I’m gonna get my share right now, what’s mine
    And then the harder they come The harder they fall, one and all
    The harder they come the harder they’ll fall one and all
    Ooh, the harder they come Harder they fall, one and all

  3. 3 Jimmy

    Glad to see other people estolling the initiative of the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art.  From what I can determine this exhibition is extremely ambitious, original and worthy of great support.  These guys sure know how to ensure the rest of the country is aware of their energy and vitality.  They go against the conservative and safe views of their interstate counterparts and have placed Queensland firmly on the cultural map.  What a change that place has had since its new gallery.  Go Brisbane and thank you for being so original, thoughtful and OPTIMISTIC!

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