Saturday, 26 November 2011

Museums and theatre in Brisbane

This morning, I went back to the Brisbane Museum of Modern Art.  I'm starting to identify the themes that recur and that I like.  I've looked at a lot of modern art that leaves me cold, but the themes that appeal repeatedly are ones that refer to social history, family, narrative, and illustration.  Today I looked at a series of family portraits from a chinese family.  William Yang had compiled this series "About my Mother" after her death, taking portraits of her and her immediate family, and mounting them with a piece of script that explains something about the situation or conversation that took place at the time.  An insightful narrative about the life of a chinese migrant mother and her son.  She had died just after a family tour of Australia.  Her 3 children had come home from worldwide locations, and had taken her on holiday, to visit all the places she had lived in Australia, and she had spent a lot of time telling them about their heritage, and she had died two days after this holiday from a stroke, perhaps because she had had the final satisfaction of having her dispersed family back together again. 

Another series of artworks was by Vernon Ah Kee, "Neither Pride, nor Courage" which was simple, large hand-drawn portraits of his family members, who were attributed as indigeneous people, by a variety of Aboriginal group names, but who also appeared to have asian features, as well as asian surnames.  Very simply drawn, with clear scribbly charcoal lines in the tonal variation, but absolutely brilliant interpretation.

In the afternoon, I went to see the "Rock of Ages" musical.  It was a riot!  It played lots of rock songs from the 80s, with a predictable story line of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy regains girl.  As I am not a rock fan, some of the music was lost on me (Styx, Whitesnake) but I did recognise some of it "we built this city" etc.  There was some comment at the beginning about certain rock bands (Def Leppard?) that had refused to allow their music to be played, and there were certainly parts that parodied other rock stars - the lead actors were strutting around taking off Freddie Mercury and tongue actions taking off Mick Jagger.  And another actor played a rock star who "died" and reappeared as an angel (looking very like an ageing John Lennon).  All in all it was a good tempered story of right winning out over wrong, with some fantastic music performed on stage.

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