I support the position of artists to slay sacred cows and expose truths about our society, however this does not provide license for artists to perpetuate cultural colonialism for the purpose of commission.
Artist and school teacher Ben Osvath has used the ‘in art it’s anything goes’ defence after insulting Indigenous community members with his large sculptural representation of wanjina spirits, without permission. Only select Indigenous artists gain permission to represent these spirits, and then only after ‘years of initiations and ceremonies’.
Artists of all practices play an important role in showing us up for our own faults. However, this comes with a responsibility not to use this role to promote the oppression and disadvantage of disenfranchised cultures, especially in post-colonial societies.
Me-thinks some publicly recognised spokespeople from the Arts community should come forward and denounce this man’s attitude that artists have the moral right to profit from the oppression of others.
And that’s before even starting on Vesna Tenodi trying to take ownership the Indigenous spiritual heritage… fruitloop.