Sweetness & Light

When Taxpayers are the Muse

Our nation’s finest modern artistic moment occurred in 2011, when a creative Sydney chap named Denis Beaubois received a $20,000 Australia Council arts grant.

Rather than wasting his windfall on paint, sculpture or song, Beaubois simply converted the cheque to uncirculated cash, piled all the resultant $100 notes into two neat stacks, placed the cash in a glass box and exhibited his masterwork under the title Currency. Beaubois’s grant, his art — the product of his muse is pictured above — and even the name of his art were all precisely the same thing.

He could’ve achieved an identical outcome by dragging a bucket through a cattle yard, of course, but nobody’s buying a container of crap called Bullshit. By contrast, Currency was a marketing triumph. In a moment of utter arts grant brilliance, Beaubois put the $20,000 up for auction—and someone paid $21,350 for it.

Tim Blair appears in every Quadrant.
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(That’s what they ended up paying for it, anyway. The successful bid was just $17,500, seemingly the bargain of the year, until nearly four grand extra in taxes, auction house premiums and other incidentals were factored in.)

Never mind. Art was the winner on the day. And the fact that Beaubois hadn’t actually added any art to his arts grant was celebrated, at least by the artist, as being artistic itself. “The currency used in the creation of the work was not altered or modified and retained its potential function and value as currency,” Beaubois’s website declared. “However each hundred dollar bill had its serial number recorded to validate it as an authentic part of the work, thereby instilling a cultural value on top of the financial value.”

Financial value: $20,000. Cultural value: just $17,500, with further subtractions for whatever it cost to put the money in a box and transport it for exhibition in Melbourne and Sydney. Even free money loses spending power once it’s exposed to the death grip of government and bureaucracy. That pile of dough was worth an entire $2500 more before art happened to it.

Still, God bless Beaubois’s site for providing a hilariously over-produced video of Currency’s sale and also for describing the whole adventure in such perfectly indulgent and stereotypically arty terms: “The tension between the economic value of the material against the cultural value of the art object was explored through the process of the financial transaction enabled by the auction.”

Keep that line in mind the next time you’re battling with other bidders to buy a house. Maybe “the process of the financial transaction” will score you a 12.5 per cent deduction, just the same as it evidently works in the Australia Council’s world.

At this stage, the arts-minded may be taking exception to this column and its gentle ways. Surely, were anybody to listen, they’d point out that an artwork must have come along during the past dozen years or so that is superior and more noteworthy than a mere twice-displayed twenty-thou markdown sale.

Fair enough. Let’s examine Australia’s post-Currency history of craft and inventiveness, and apply appropriate definitions. First up, to qualify as local art, it must be government funded—but it must not express any gratitude for that funding by delivering anything able to impress or delight a normal Australian taxpayer.

Instead, proper tax-funded art should challenge and provoke middle-class normies, preferably to the point of making them feel sick. The work of Melbourne toilet artisan Georgie Mattingley is informative in this regard—so much so that I won’t be informing you of it to any greater extent. Stout-hearted readers are invited to read Roger Franklin’s outstanding 2018 review of Ms Mattingley’s expressive output, so to speak, by visiting “The Art of Grants and Excrement”.

Additionally, and relatedly, proper tax-funded local art should leave audiences wondering afterwards what exactly they’ve just seen or heard. Not a pleasant kind of wondering, obviously, such as may follow a principled conservative statement from a state or federal Liberal, but the sort of lingering, traumatic, unfocused wondering that would likely follow a brain infection.

By all of those qualifications, then, we indeed do have a new contender for the title of our greatest recent piece of modern art. It was a morbid and distressing tax-funded nationwide performance piece called “The Covid Pandemic”.

Many Australians now find it difficult to recall how or why all of Covid’s madness took such a powerful hold on our lives. They are also finding it very difficult to locate some of the pandemic’s star “performers”, what with a significant and growing number of retirements among the mask-and-submission community.

The other day, one of our local shops removed its various transparent Covid-blocking checkout screens. It felt as though a theatrical set had been dismantled; an entire imaginary world, with its own peculiar boundaries and rules, was taken down and cast aside. Reality resumed. The shop’s adhesive footprint distancing guides remain, however, like stage spike tape for a failed musical.

Elbow-bumping. Some fad that was. It died faster than this year’s intense but brief fascination with women’s soccer, despite earnest media pieces proposing that handshakes might forever be abolished. Future generations may look upon images of elbow-bumping and imagine it to be an inverted form of Riverdance: all arms, no feet.

A friend revived the careers—in fact, the lives—of long-deceased minor British band members by using their names as Covid sign-ins. And during one beautiful evening on the north coast of New South Wales, I proved that mime was not only a living art form, but that it could get you into a pub.

The venue in question had blocked all entrances except one, which was swarming with security staff. They’d marked out observation points and were enforcing a fancy multi-part entry process, requiring a successful mobile phone QR code interaction followed by a driver’s licence inspection and brief interview.

Broadway auditions aren’t as thorough. I’ve provided less information in job interviews—and I still got the job. But there wasn’t much hope for me at this Coffs Harbour pub, because I didn’t have my phone with me. No phone meant no QR code scanning. And no QR code scanning meant I couldn’t proceed to the licence inspection stage.

So I just waved my wallet at the code, looked at it with an approving nod and walked right on by. Easy as you like and artistic with it. The only thing simpler would be selling $20,000 at a $2500 discount.


SOMETIMES a flare goes up,” wrote Douglas Murray in the wake of Hamas’s inhuman assaults on Israel, “and you see exactly where every­one is.”

Specifically, the conservative British author and commentator referred to a Black Lives Matter social media post that expressed not just solidarity with Hamas, which would obviously be bad enough, but endorsed the bestial tactics used by Hamas against defenceless dance party attendees.

Black Lives Matter’s Chicago chapter—who really should be busy enough looking after their own patch, considering its obscene decades-long level of black-on-black homicides—posted a silhouette figure of a parachutist bearing a Palestinian flag.

This was an obviously and deliberately out­rageous nod to the dance party killers’ arrival via paragliders. The murderers swept in from above then commenced shooting, stabbing, raping and kidnapping as many innocents as they possibly could. Footage depicted young women being dragged away, pleading not to be killed.

That brutal parachute image carried the caption: “i Stand With Palestine”. As Murray observed, this display of encouragement and unity was indeed illuminating. It exposed Black Lives Matter, the US-based group that from 2020 onwards inspired idiots worldwide to “take a knee”, as Hamas’s ally in bloodlust.

Those idiots, many prominent Australians among them, are on notice from this point that any further knee-based virtue-signalling will connect them directly not just to Black Lives Matter but to the Middle East’s leading clan of sub-Manson Family psychopaths. They should also reflect on how easily they were gulled in the first place to obeying Black Lives Matter’s kneeling directives.

Head office of Black Lives Matter clearly didn’t appreciate the negative attention generated by their Chicago branch, which subsequently issued an apology—an apology that emphatically restated the group’s backing of Hamas.

“Yesterday we sent out messages that we aren’t proud of,” the apology began, before immediately launching into pro-terrorist cheerleading and anti-Israel loathing: “We stand with Palestine and the people who will do what they must to live free. Our hearts are with the grieving mothers, those rescuing babies from rubble, who are in danger of being wiped out completely.”

Hamas may meet its end thanks to Israel’s military response. In an ideal world, Black Lives Matter would meet its end through a broad-based cancellation of the group’s social influence. Shun them and shut them down. Conversely, keep kneeling and you’re keeping terror-aligned Black Lives Matter alive.

The flares are up, from the Middle East to the US, Australia, the UK and beyond. We can all see exactly what we’re dealing with. The only issue now is how we respond.

4 thoughts on “When Taxpayers are the Muse

  • Peter Marriott says:

    Entertaining piece Tim, well put together and of course my sentiments agree with yours as written.

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    We shouldn’t forget that we had major and obviously non-contagious marches for BLM here in Sydney and Melbourne and other capital cities during lockdown. No pepper spray for these gentle middle class mum marchers, unlike the elderly woman knocked down and sprayed for protesting the lockdowns and countless other outrages now gone down the memory hole.
    If these BLM supporters weren’t ashamed to the depths of their souls about that, and other heinous crimes by authorities against liberty that lockdown produced, then Hamas’ Nazi atrocities including burning alive parents and chidren wired together in death, cutting off the forearms of eight year olds in front of their parents, cooking babies in ovens while raping to death the mother on the kitchen floor, and other calm and worthy projects, will not disturb their satisfied sleep ‘on the right side of history’. / Sarc off

  • jackgym says:

    Elbow-bumping? That’s nothing.
    As a way of greeting in the early days, an Aboriginal tribe in Australia used to grab each other by the genitals.
    To “refuse a penis” was a sign of hostility.

  • terenc5 says:

    Support for the subhuman Hamas should result in loss of citizenship and deportation to Gaza.

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