Sydney Contemporary 2017-2018
Countess Report presented two years in a row at public talks as part of the Sydney Contemporary art fair. In September 2017 Countess spoke on ‘The Underrepresented’ panel discussion alongside Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Blak Douglas and Abdul Abdullah with Penelope Benton as moderator. In September 2018 we spoke on a heated ‘SHEILAS in the Art Market’ panel alongside Merryn Schriever, Barry Keldoulis, Marco Navone (co-author of paper 'Is Gender in the Eye of the Beholder?'), and Marion Borgelt with Angela Goddard as moderator.
In preparation for each talk we analysed gender representation at the art fair and presented these findings on the panel. Our findings are published here.*
*This report is limited to the ‘current’ and ‘future’ section of galleries exhibiting in the art fair. ‘Current’ galleries are established galleries, whilst ‘future’ galleries are up and coming organisations new to the art fair.
In 2017, 367 artists exhibited in the ‘current’ section. 40% of artists were female and 60% of artists male. Only 29 artists were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander which translates to 9%. Whilst the ‘future’ section had significantly less artists represented cumulatively – 35 in total – female artists were significantly underrepresented in 2017, accounting for just 26% of total artists.
In 2018, there were approximately 257 artists in the ‘current’ section. 42% of artists were female and 14% of the total were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander – a slight improvement from 2017. The total number of artists in the ‘future’ section decreased to 21 artists and of these, 43% were female. None were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.
Whilst female representation in the 'future' section improved between 2017 and 2018, the fact that up and coming galleries in both years showed predominantly male artists suggests it is important not to assume that younger or emerging gallerists are exempt from gender bias in their decision making by virtue of their age or self appointed status as "post-feminist".
In neither section in 2017 or 2018 did we count any non-binary artists.