Friday Night Fever

“Where are you going? You have to stay. You’re in the show”, the photographer William Yang said to my friend Kate, as we had gotten up from our seats, and were headed to the bar to grab a glass of wine, ahead of William’s talk at the Museum of Contempoary Art (MCA) in Sydney last night.

We thought we had a few minutes to grab a glass of wine, and to absorb the previous talk by Djon Mundine, before William was due to speak. Djon had run a little bit over-time, and so the break between the two had to be shortened. Djon, an Indigenous artist, had spoken about the portrayal of Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people in Australian film. In particular he came from the perspective of the portral of white man. While a lot of film and popular culture tends to portray black men as mystical, magical and sexual, he was interested to see how white men are portrayed in films which have significant Indigenous themes and casting. Along the way he showed excerpts from films like “Kadaicha”, “Bedevil”, “Jimmie Blacksmith” and another film whose name escapes me right now. His conclusion: the portrayal is often as police, property developers and paedophiles, though he noted his lack of film critic or academic credentials.

William’s talk on the other hand was about some of his recent overseas travels to China, Korea, Italy and Germany. Kate featured in the number of photographs in China. It was like a “slide night with depth” as William talked us through photographs of art, landscape, social occasions, food and attractive men he met along the way. On the subject matter of the latter two, I thought he could do an exhibition called “Edible”, though I never got around to suggesting it to William himself. Though there were ample opportunities to, as later in the evening a whole bunch of us ended up on the rooftop dance floor.

I was there with a couple of other friends. Another friend was there with mutual friends. There’s nothing like a dance floor to see a blending of the groups, and to discover further mutual contacts. In a text to one of my friends who was downstairs, I urged her to come to the rooftop to hear possibly the world’s greatest DJ, Leo Tanoi. I didn’t know at the time, they were actually friends. Although the moniker of “world’s greatest DJ” was possibly a little over the top, he played the kind of music that went down well with a bunch of 40 and 50 somethings who like art and who like to groove along (Madonna, Whitney, Michael Jackson etc). It’s been ages since I’ve been out for a “proper dance”, and since the music was so good, we barely left the dance floor. In between, there was a terrific performance by a singer, Nadeena Dixon, whose repertoire tended to reggae and dance, with a lot of songs with Indigenous-themed lyrics. William Yang, as always snapped a few photographs of the dance floor festivities.

At the end of a long, long week, it was so great to hang out with friends, see some great art, and then have a dance for a couple of hours at the rooftop of the MCA, with the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge as backdrops, on a really pleasant summerish evening. “It doesn’t get much better than this”, a few friends were inclined to say last night.

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