Tiny story: The amount of noise art makes

An abstract painting by a man with lots of time was on display at the national gallery and featured in television documentaries. It was heard loud and clear by lots of people: it had the loudness of a million people clapping.

A first-world man’s installations were featured in textbooks and in the state library. They had the loudness of a motorbike parade.

A bronze sculpture commissioned by business elites was erected in a park by the harbour. It had the loudness of a jack hammer breaking the pavement apart.

A quiet genius of a woman hung her embroidery, painted with different stitch strokes and wonderful colours, on her wall. It had the loudness of a lady beetle whisper.

Working class teenagers made angry screen prints that were scraped off alley walls. The prints had the loudness of raindrops eroding monuments to cruel invaders.

And painted didgeridoos made by an old indigenous man gathered dust in a souvenir shop. They had the loudness of bird-dreams.

That night, the abstract painter gave a keynote talk to other rich men. As he did, he wiped his sweaty hands on an embroidered handkerchief – the work of an unrecognised artist.

-Tamara Pearson

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