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Hannah Gadsby

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Hannah is still searching for a more inclusive Australian identity in our art, and in this episode she enters the NOW! But in post-Cronulla Australia it seems even more difficult to define what it is to be Australian. Many of our contemporary artists are diving into this confused state of belonging and using it as a launching point for their practice. Hannah meets Jason Wing who is using his art to investigate how his Chinese/Aboriginal heritage sees him fit into the idea of being an ‘Aussie’.
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The hyper-masculine Australian National Identity is a Frankenstein monster made from the mythical body-parts of bushrangers, diggers and pioneer blokes in hats. It’s an identity forged in a post-Federation Australia that seems to hold water even today. Has our art helped to create and maintain this distorted our view of ourselves? Hannah rips the Gum-Tree mafia (Heidelberg School) a new one when she pulls apart the clichés of this masculine national identity.
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Hannah reveals she is Tasmanian – which doesn’t mean she has two heads or a particular love of sheep. It does however mean she feels a sense of belonging to the Apple Isle. This idea of ‘belonging’ in Australia is a complex and troubled concept that has played out between the brushstrokes of our art. Hannah’s investigation begins with colonial art and the first images made by our settlers, and uncovers what these images say about White Australia’s relationship with this strange new world.
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Australian stand up comedian Hannah Gadsby is a closet art scholar. Armed with a rapier wit and desire to pick beneath the paint, she travels across the continent on a mission to debunk the myths of the Australian Identity as defined by our art canon. From first settlement to Federation to post-multiculturalism, Hannah will forge an irreverent new image of who we think we are through a re-examination of art history. She will engage with a new generation determined to challenge their culture.
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The artists of the early Twentieth Century moved away from the traditional stories of History and the Bible and into the bedroom. While many classic foundations of art history were smashed in this period, the Cast and underlying assumptions about the female nude remained unchanged. Hannah celebrates the feminist art revolution that emerged. She looks at the ground-breaking work of Julie Rrap, Sarah Lucas and Louise Bourgeois who took the imaging of the female body into female hands.
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Hannah’s tour through the history of the nude in art starts in Ancient Greece, where the male body was considered the only body worthy of representation. Episode One “Birth Of The Ideal” reveals that the glorification of masculine strength, invulnerability and rock hard abs all started back in the toga era. The depiction of the vulnerable, passive or coy female Cast evolved a little later, and Hannah follows the evolution of the nude, right up til the end of the nineteenth century.
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“The Nude” is one of the most enduring Casts in western art history. It has survived the crumbling of ancient civilizations and the shaming of well-placed medieval fig foliage. Art galleries today are full of nude bodies. How did that happen? The series walks boldly between artful humour and accessible art analysis. It gets you thinking even if you only tune in for a laugh. And for those art fans who tune in for their artsy hit, they’ll get that through a heavy measure of chuckle.
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