Last month five Sydney artists painted the SAY YES TO WANJINA… AND NO TO CENSORSHIP mural, in response to the Land and Environment Council decision to uphold the local council order for the sculpture created by artist Benedikt Osvath to be removed from the front lawn of the ModroGorje gallery.
Vesna Tenodi, the ModroGorje gallery owner, said: “The DreamRaiser project events are our artistic protest against the decision by the local council to dictate what artists can create. The bureaucrats manipulated planning laws and used the heritage listing of the house and the “stone’s visual prominence” as an excuse to enforce censorship. This is a worrying outcome for every artist and free thinker in Australia.
“We saw even more shameful conduct by the Arts Law Centre that is supposed to protect the rights of all artists in Australia, but seems to represent only Aborigines. In utter contempt for Australian law, they advocate for censorship and are now actively encouraging people to manipulate other laws, such as planning laws, to enforce some non-existent law. In an article of 18 April 2011 they showed their intention to do whatever it takes to censor artists:
Although the sculpture was clearly a Wandjina, it did not appear to be a copy of any particular artwork by a known artist and therefore no complaint about infringement of copyright could be made… We looked for another solution… It also illustrates how sometimes other laws can be used to protect cultural heritage.
“As far back as September 2010, the Arts Law Centre conceded the ancient imagery is in the public domain:
The Copyright Act also does not provide any assistance. First, the works created by the gallery are likely to be considered sufficiently “original” only taking their inspiration from the Wandjinas rather than being copied. Secondly, as many of the Wandjinas found in rock art are ancient, the copyright period of life plus 70 years has long expired so they are therefore considered to be in the public domain.
“In our opinion, the Arts Law Centre has no capacity to comprehend that rock art belongs to world heritage, and keeps making these pitiful and embarrassing attempts to “protect” Aborigines. Even more ridiculous is that they are helping Aborigines in attempts to claim ownership of the cave paintings which Aborigines never created in the first place, but found when they arrived.
“To top it all off, on 22 June 2011 the Arts Law Centre sent a media release full of false claims and slanderous accusations, in breach of Australian legal practitioners’ ethics and in contempt of Australian law. They are fully aware that there is no ownership of ideas, and that there is no requirement for any artist to engage in any consultation or seek “permission” from anyone. Australian artists are still free to paint, and under no obligation to follow any “traditional lore” nor to show respect for the communist-like propaganda as constantly pushed by this Arts Law crowd.
“The Arts Law Centre keeps making racist, derogatory comments about any artist or artwork that Aborigines find “offensive”, which shows that they know little about art and the democratic rights of the other 98 percent of the Australian population. Their bigoted approach to art makes the Australian art-scene an object of ridicule in the eyes of the developed world, showing how backwards and archaic their thinking really is.”