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The bottom line in extreme art

Mark McGowan will be pushing the proverbial uphill to turn WA’s economy around but, if our new Premier needs advice on handling excrement, we know an ABC art series that features people who have literally turned it into an art form.

Shock Art, from WA production house Periscope Pictures, examines the work of Australian artists who are pushing the boundaries, using extreme media to test the limits of their audience and challenge how we define art.

Viewers are taken on a journey of discovery by Curtin University lecturer and art historian Dr Christina Chau, who gets down and dirty with the artists she encounters, including one that co-opted her to sculpt human faeces. “Human faeces have featured in art history quite a lot actually,” Dr Chau told Inside Cover.

Dean Alston
Dean AlstonPicture: The West Australian

The academic cites the famous example of Italian artist Piero Manzoni, whose 1961 work Merda d’artista (or Artist’s S…) involved filling 90 small cans with faeces and selling each by weight at gold’s market price at the time.

That might not seem very artistic but consider this: if the tins were actually filled with 30g of gold, their value of about $50 in 1961 would have risen to nearly $1700 today.

In comparison, Tin No.69, filled with 30g of faeces, sold at auction in Milan last year for nearly $389,000.

Manzoni is said to have produced the cans as a reaction to the commodification of art and, if he is rolling in his grave right now — he died in 1963 — one wonders if it’s with disgust or laughter.

Dr Chau described shock art as a “trans-disciplinary genre”, in which the process was often as important as the product, as she learnt with Melbourne visual artist Georgie Mattingley, who once digested liquid barium in various colours to produce excrement that referenced the seven major spiritual chakras.

“I’d like viewers to see the variety of art that is available in Australia,” Dr Chau said.

Shock Art was commissioned as part of the ABC’s Art Bites initiative and will screen as six 10-minute episodes on the iView platform, starting from tomorrow.


The people protesting against the destruction of the Beeliar Wetlands were no doubt rejoicing to hear WA’s 30th Premier tell Roe 8 contractors not to show up for work yesterday.

However, in a reminder that not everyone was against Roe 8, Inside Cover fielded calls from a few south-of-the-river readers dismayed that traffic congestion in their neck of the woods was set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Anti-Roe 8 protests.
Anti-Roe 8 protests.Picture: The West Australian

One reader from Leeming said he was worried about the dangers freight trucks posed on Leach Highway, after witnessing an accident involving a truck and an SUV on the busy road.

Another said Roe 8 had offered hope that daily congestion on North Lake and Farrington Road would be fixed.

In a landslide victory, our new State Government won a clear mandate to scrap Roe 8 but it remains to be seen how any plan to replace the project will address the concerns of those who weren’t against it in the first place.


It’s still a few weeks until Round 1 of the AFL but Perth’s cross-town football rivalry is already in mid-season form.

A West Coast supporter offered us information regarding the Fremantle Docker’s new training base at Cockburn Central, nestled between the suburbs of Jandakot and Success.

“Jandakot is an Aboriginal name meaning ‘place of the whistling Eagle’,” the reader explained.

“Word has it that the Dockers wanted to get close to Success.”


Coopers Pale Ale is very popular among inner-city hipsters — when they aren’t drinking craft beers, that is — but the South Australian brewer likely lost a few hipster fans with its decision to produce 10,000 cases of beer to commemorate the Bible Society’s 200th anniversary. The beer then featured prominently in a video debate on the merits of same-sex marriage, or lack there of, featuring Federal Liberal MPs Andrew Hastie, from WA, and Tim Wilson. The Twitterverse lit up.


Instagramming WA

Puddle on instagram
Puddle on instagramPicture: @jamriverama

@jamriverama While the miserable weather returned sooner than many of us would like, the recent rain wasn’t all doom and gloom. Just ask any kid with a pair of gumboots.

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