Artist Profile

PETER HILL’S SUPERFICTIONS

THE NEW YORKER ACCOUNT BY Ernesto Malley of the first Paintforum International held in Melbourne in March 2018 revealed a city, indeed, a community, so committed to the visual arts that every public and private gallery and exhibition space, even the vast railway stations, were replete with work from the most visible and utterly unheard-of artists. A conference staged by four universities was advertised on every tram and train station, Lear Jets bearing bidders and buyers crowded Melbourne Airport, and a million-dollar painting prize was awarded. The host city of the to-beannual event promised to become the epicentre of the international art market.

Except … readers familiar with Australian twentieth-century cultural history would spot the ‘Ernesto Malley’ reference. In 1944 Max Harris published a set of free-verse poems. They were a hoax, composed by poets James McAuley and Douglas Stewart, using the pseudonym ‘Ern Malley’, and once the hoax was revealed embarrassment followed for Harris and his supporters.

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