When the first Europeans came to Australia they were struck by the unusual variety of its flora and fauna. The title alludes to this fact and suggests a potent 'biodiversity' in photographic practice in Australia today, stemming from a rich multiculturalism unfettered by the weight of history.
Curator: Alasdair Foster
Artists: Pat Brassington, Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, Brenda L Croft, Max
Doyle, Rose Farrell and George Parkin, Joachim Froese, Philip George, Deborah Paauwe, Polixeni Papapetrou, Scott Redford, Michael Riley, Glenn Sloggett, Darren Sylvester, Martin Walch, Anne Zahalka
Tour: Bangkok, Singapore, Dhaka, Taipei (2003-2004).
The first part of the exhibition includes the work of six photographic artists. Collectively they reflect something of the diversity of ideas, styles and methodologies current in Australia today. Phillip George uses digital manipulation to create a large panoramic image of a fictional coastline strewn with the remnants of ancient civilisations whose descendants came only recently to Australia. Meanwhile Martin Walch challenges the easy romanticism of popular ecology with a series of seductive stereo images of open cut mining in Tasmania. By contrast, Scott Redford finds a sumptuous aesthetic in the surface of public urinals, whilst hinting at a sexual significance they may hold for a gay man.
Deborah Paauwe presents an image of herself hovering in the ambiguous space between childhood innocence and sexual maturity. Joachim Froese creates idiosyncratic still lifes in which dead insects enact allegorical parodies of the human condition.
Finally, Max Doyle, one of a new generation of photographers who are bringing the visual language of postmodern art photography to the worlds of fashion and lifestyle publishing, presents an installation of a teenage boy's bedroom in which all the pictures on the wall and the fanzines by the bed have been replaced by the artist's work. In this way he seeks to break away from the classic modernist practice of setting art in a 'neutral' space.
In the second part two artists present work which looks at Australian suburbia. Anne Zahalka's large colour photographs explore the leisure industry while Glenn Sloggett records images of dereliction, failed aspiration and abject domesticity. Both Zahalka and Sloggett locate the heart of the suburban experience in the surface of things and in the triumph of fey optimism over irony. For Zahalka it is in the fibreglass volcanoes of the theme park or the regimentation of beach culture. For Sloggett it is in the dilapidated wastelands of suburbia and a battered pink hearse bearing the cheerful slogan: Budget Burials - Cheaper & Deeper.
Artists who bring a fresh and original approach to traditional forms and ideas are showing in the third part. Pat Brassington explores and exploits the legacies of surrealism, whilst subtly subverting those (primarily masculine) traditions with a clearly feminine and feminist inflection. There is a wistful humour in these deceptively simple juxtapositions which set up strangely perverse associations that grip the imagination. For many years Rose Farrell & George Parkin have been exploring historical medical machinery. They create large complex tableaux juxtaposing papier-migures with real human beings.
The fourth part brings together work by three artists and one artistic partnership that describes two intersecting trajectories in contemporary Australian photo-media: the consumer/cultural and the personal/political. Darren Sylvester's celebration of consumer technologies contrasts with Lyndell Brown & Charles Green's trompe l'oeil works that mix painting and photographic media to address the representation of art historical imagery and its reproduction. Meanwhile Brenda L. Croft and Polixeni Papapetrou address issues of personal identity. Croft uses digital imaging to expose the injustices and hypocrisies surrounding the relationship between early colonists and Australia's first peoples, while Papapetrou works with her four year old daughter to explore childhood role-play through the game of dressing up.
Michael Riley's Cloud (2000) occupies the last part. This sequence of ten large inkjet prints reflects upon his enforced Christian upbringing and the wider impact of assimilation programs on Aboriginal communities throughout Australia. Recognising both negative and positive outcomes of his upbringing, Cloud seeks to make sense of a history that defies simple resolution. Showing with this work is Empire, Riley's acclaimed and evocative short film made in 1997 for The Festival of the Dreaming. The film was commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Company and has a soundtrack performed by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.
Sacred Ground Beating Heart: The Art of Judy Watson 1989-2003
Sacred Ground Beating Heart presented paintings and prints by Judy Watson, originally prepared by Ted Snell for show in Australia, and extended internationally by Asialink as part of the focus on individual artists’ work. In the exhibition catalogue Snell writes ‘her work speaks eloquently of the suffering of Aboriginal Australians, the massacres, prejudice and disdain, while simultaneously evoking the dignity and achievements of Aboriginal people’. One visitor during its presentation in Vietnam commented: ‘It was one of the best exhibitions we had seen in Ho Chi Minh City in the past few years.’
Curator: Ted Snell
Artist: Judy Watson
Partner: John Curtin Gallery, Perth
Tour: Ho Chi Minh City, Colombo, Manila (2004)
Dancing up Country: The Art of Dorothy Napangardi
Dorothy Napangardi enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence in the early years of the century. Despite this, a major exhibition of her large paintings which reflect her life and people in the central desert had not been shown in Australia or internationally and so it was seen as an opportune time to develop a solo exhibition of her work.
Curator: Vivienne Webb
Artist: Dorothy Napangardi
Partner: Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
Tour: Sydney, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur (2003-2004)
Un Wrapped: Australian Fashion and Textile Design
Unwrapped: Australian Fashion and Textiles Design was an exhibition featuring contemporary fashion and textile works by over 20 contemporary designers from across Australia. Unwrapped included a wide range of media including wild kangaroo fur, hand-printed textiles and clothing, wool creations and collaborative artwork combining printed Aboriginal designs with hand quilting. Visitor comments from the exhibition in Singapore included ‘I feel so inspired! Thanks!!’ and ‘Wonderful pieces of work, flabbergasted.’
Curator: Meredith Rowe
Artists: Margaret Ainscow, Breathlesselfh, Billabong, Beauty of Nature, Sarah Crowest, Ernabella Arts Inc, Andrea Geisler, Lorinda Grant, Gwendolynne, Akira Isogawa, Easton Pearson, Julie Ryder, Sara Lindsay, Rosemary O’Rouke, Kerry Pryor, S!X, Tiwi Design and Stewart Russell, Utopia/Brahma Tirta Sari Studio, Vixen Australia, Ilka White, Liz Williamson, Zimmermann
Partner: Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo
Tour: Bendigo, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Manila, Singapore (2003-2005)
I Thought I Knew but I was Wrong: New Video Art from Australia
I thought I knew but I was wrong: New Video Art from Australia explores the impact of video art on Australian contemporary art over the past five years. Showcasing a diverse selection of video works, the exhibition introduces audiences to the ways in which Australian artists are using video to explore ideas of identity, lifestyle and society within the context of a diverse and multifaceted arts culture. Disparate in subject matter and style, the works in this exhibition share a common urge to communicate something immediate and relevant to their audience. I thought I knew but I was wrong is a snapshot of the range and breadth of Australian contemporary visual culture - from the slick to the lo-fi, the luxurious to the raw, and the comic to the confessional.
Curators: Alexie Glass, Sarah Tutton
Artists: Guy Benfield, Philip Brophy, Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Daniel Crooks, DAMP, Destiny Deacon, Virginia Fraser, Shaun Gladwell, Lyndal Jones, The Kingpins, Marcus Lyall, James Lynch, Tracey Moffatt, TV Moore, Patricia Piccinini, David Rosetzky, Ivan Sen, Monika Tichacek, Craig Walsh
Partner: Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Melbourne
Exhibition dates & venues:
Bangkok, July-August 2004, Chulalongkorn University
Singapore, October-November 2004, NAFA
Seoul, February-March 2005, Ssamzie Space
I thought I knew but I was wrong presents the work of nineteen artists in three interconnected screening programs: Persona, Play and Space. These programs are intended as fluid groupings through which the viewer is able to engage with the works and the broad themes of identity, representation and the constructed environment. The exhibition includes work by both internationally renowned artists such as Tracey Moffatt, Patricia Piccinini and Destiny Deacon, as well as younger artists such as David Rosetzky and Shaun Gladwell, who have only begun to exhibit internationally over the past few years. The exhibition also includes works by Ivan Sen, Amiel Courtin-Wilson and Marcus Lyall, artists who are known primarily for their work in the film and television sector. Sen won considerable international acclaim for his film Beneath Clouds, while Lyall's multi-screen works have been used as part of stadium concert tours by U2, Oasis and the Rolling Stones. Courtin-Wilson has worked extensively in documentary film with the Australian multicultural network, SBS.
In contrast to a solo painting exhibition by a leading, older Indigenous artist like Dorothy Napangardi was the show of inner Sydney designers Dinosaur Designs. A very successful design group formed by the three artists named, they work with unusual materials – often coloured resins – making simple and distinctive sculptural objects for people’s wear and domestic use. This exhibition yielded impressive attendance figures, particularly in Taiwan where they recorded 12,415 visitors in three weeks. One comment in the visitor book stated: ‘I never realised that polyester resin could be the medium for making elegant and stylish jewellery until I saw Dinosaur Designs.’
Curator: Brian Parkes
Artists: Louise Olsen, Stephen Ormandy, Liane Rossler
Partner: Object: Australian Centre for Craft and Design, Sydney
Tour: Bangkok, Taipei, Singapore (2004-2005)