To some, The World Turns is a five metre tall, upside down statue of an elephant looking at a water rat. To others it is a representation of colonialism (the elephant) being upturned by the indigenous peoples (kuril, the water rat). But for the Arts Minister of Queensland it is a white elephant that has the mystical power of being able toange the context of earlier statements that ridiculed the work as wasteful.
Branded the Minister for Hypocrisy in a tweet by Shadow Arts Minister Jackie Trad, Arts Minister Ros Bates ‘excitedly’ unveiled the arrival of The World Turns last Wednesday in preparation for the opening of this year’s Asia Pacific Triennial (APT) when not even a month ago she had slammed the work for being a ‘shocking misuse of taxpayer dollars’.
Artist Michael Parekowai won the Queensland Premier’s Sculpture commission two years ago (not the current Premier of course) and it’s a nice homage to Brisbane that the artist chosen to help commemorate GOMAs fifth anniversary and twenty years of APT had artwork displayed at GOMA’s grand opening five years ago. Parekowai worked with Uncle Des Sandy, a traditional elder of the area to create a work that tells many stories and has layers of meaning linked to the place where it will stand.
A month ago, Ms Bates complained that ‘More than a million dollars was spent on this single piece of art, commissioned by an artist who doesn’t live in Queensland or Australia for that matter’ but since unveiling The World Turns, the Minister has done her own back flip clarifying that the statement she made was really about the fact that the money was being spent after the devastation of the Brisbane floods.
Ms Bates now advises that she is ‘very proud’ that everyone can appreciate the artwork. Perhaps that little kuril is more powerful than we imagined!