Sunday, November 23, 2008


So how typical are the Broadsheet numbers? While browsing the aisles at our local (quality) news agency and bookshop who between them stock most Australian art magazines, CoUNTess decided to buy the lot. Now there are magazines all over the CoUNTess offices, in the boardroom, in the lunch room even the uni-sex toilets.

The flicking through large glossy pages, recapping of highlighter pens and the sticky high hat of a ripped off post it note have become the CoUNTesses @'s theme song of sorts we keep breaking into singing Money by Pink Floyd for some reason.

The full count

For this graph CoUNTesses have counted the feature articles in each magazine as listed in the table of contents. The feature articles are the main focus of the magazine and are often highlighted on the front cover. The features are like the meat in the sandwhich between the editorial and the reviews intermingled with the advertisements that in turn supersize the features. Its a goes around comes around world and reflective of gender balance in galleries both commercial and public so whats the point?

Well we at CoUNTess just think it is important to put it in black and white to see what you think?

Australian art magazine covers

flash back or not?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Missing in action

Google search "Countess"

CoUNTess is so excited about the graduating shows opening all over Australia in the next couple of weeks, those slaved over fund raised catalogues will provide the hard copy for counting the gender balance of art school graduates. Some of our advance orders have already arrived in the CoUNTess offices.

CoUNTess is often hearing how women make up between 70-90% of students at Australian art schools. If this figure is true then why is it not reflected in the numbers of artists shown in artist run spaces, public and commercial galleries and museums so far our figures say 40% at best. Many women artists have a whole career without mention in an art magazines where on average women make up 30 % of the artists featured.

Features in Australian art magazines October 2008


Does seeing others of same gender succeed or fail influence an artist’s ambition? A typical rant on an artschools web site says
However, as the discipline is charged with a responsibility for the education of professional visual artists, it is ultimately judged by the quality and proportion of its graduates who regularly and successfully exhibit in public and commercial galleries in Australia and throughout the world.
The institutions should really be a little more upfront with their female students as clearly when they graduate they are not achieving the levels of their male peers? Its like one giant scam.

Female visual art graduates future opportunities compare shamefully to women in other female dominated fields where the gender imbalance is actually reflected in the professional workplace. CoUNTess wonders if the whole of art education has become a sausage factory where a few bureaucrats are milking vast numbers of student supplicants to feed their own need for employment. Should we be training so many female artists at art school, when there is not much opportunity for them as artists in the art world?

Annika Strom thinks not. In the last issue of Frieze Issue 119 (Feature articles: 9 male artists, 3 female artists) she is the respondent in the regular questionnaire column on the last page.
What should change? The ongoing resistance of art museums to buying art made by women. Also, I would like to see more big solo shows by women before they're dead, and 90 percet less admission for women to art schools, as I am sick of teaching them while knowing they probably won't have their work displayed in any big museums or bought for major collections. Obviously women at art schools are a waste of taxpayers' money.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Just like a Countess from Hong Kong

Broadsheet / September 2008 / Volume 37.3

Since The Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia (CACSA) showed up as the most dismally lopsided of equal opportunity exhibition spaces, the CoUNTesses @ have decided to take our counting markers to its publicly funded magazine BROADSHEET.

CoUNTess picked up the current issue Broadsheet / September 2008 / Volume 37.3, with a view to investigating how much coverage is given to male artists vs female artists. The most direct method was to simply count the names of every artist discussed and referenced in the text (Individual artists were only counted once in each article. Curators, directors, writers and musicians were not counted).

The shameful result... Male artists receive 178 mentions, female artists...43. Ouch. But seeing as the Australian members of the Advisory Board total 8 males, 0 females, perhaps not too surprising. Broadsheet, you have been counted! Below is a breakdown of our Broadsheet findings.

Male 1

Advisory Board (International and Australian)
Male 16
Female 4

Advisory Board (Australian only)
Male 8
Female 0

Contributors to Broadsheet Volume 37.3
Male 10
Female 5

Artists discussed and referenced in text. Individual artists were only counted once in each article. Curators, directors, writers and musicians were not counted.
Male artists 178 mentions
Female artists 43 mentions

Cover image*
Male 1
Female 1
* artist collaborators

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Agency CoUNTess

On the occassion of an exhibition in Melbourne at the sulubrious Carlton Hotel titled Girls Girls Girls, CoUNTess announced her arrival in Oz on the back cover of the exhibition catalogue zine.

The Countesses @ blogspot site meter has been spinning ever since. CoUNTess may be polymorphous but is completely straight laced when it comes to the numbers. As perverse as they are it is the numbers that tell the real story of the unequal conditions that women artists in Australia are operating within.

CoUNTess has welcomed new field operatives who love to count the gender representation in thier local nooks and crannies of the artworld. If you are interested in contributing to Countess we would love to hear from you email.

Already whistle blowers are sending in tips from all corners of the nation some quite upset and irate about the overwhelming exclusion of women from so many exhibitions and wonder what they can do about it. CoUNTess says a problem shared is a problem halved and there is nothing gained not talking talking about it. No point waiting for Jerry Springer to expose the matter publicly, or Judge Judy to deliver a verdict.

A balanced gender representation in the art world is not to much to expect. If your locally publicly funded gallery is showing less than 50% female artists write a message of complaint to the gallery director, your local member, the galleries funding bodies. Thats what the CoUNTesses @ are busy doing.

CoUNTess has always said that change is possible? Now we have Bob the Builder and Barack Obama claiming they can fix it and change things too. And we all agree;