Optimism in Queensland
Chris Saines, newly appointed Director of Queensland Art Gallery, has energy to burn and he has been talking about his vision for the institution for the next decade or more. His ambitions include increasing the footprint of QAGOMA within an expanded cultural precinct, and creating a permanent Indigenous gallery on the ground floor of GOMA and an Asia and Pacific gallery on the second floor. In 2015 there will be major African and Papua New Guinea exhibitions and solo shows in the next two years for Tracey Moffatt and Michael Parekowhai; Maud Page will head up the Asia Pacific Triennial curatorial team for 2015 and the important APT Symposium will be reinstated. There are plans to foster young and emerging Queensland artists and a new push to export major exhibitions internationally (negotiations are already under way for an outing for My Country, the recent blockbuster Indigenous art show). 2016-18 will see two '20th Century Master' shows - Cindy Sherman and Gerhard Richter. A new targeted philanthropy foundation will be set up, to build on Queensland’s history of giving, a current example of which is long time benefactor Win Schubert’s funding of the Cai Guo Qiang commission Heritage (see p 44-46 this issue). To counter the slow-burning economy Saines says we need to think harder and work more closely with benefactors and corporate partners.
Tourism, craft and design
The Barossa Valley and fine wine are synonymous, but now the JamFactory has added fine craft to the blend, with the establishment of 1000 sq metres of space in the former stables of the 1850s Seppeltsfield building to house up to twelve professional artisans associated with the JamFactory. Conceived as a way to add a different flavour to the winery experience in the Barossa, the facility allows visitors to watch craftspeople at work, via a walkway, and to purchase their work at a shop and gallery. This brainchild of JamFactory’s dynamic Director Brian Parkes adds a new node to the institution on its 40th anniversary, as well as an attractive visitor outing open seven days a week within an hour’s drive of Adelaide. Seppelts have released a special commemorative 40-bottle edition of its famous 1973 Tawny sales of which will support the fitout of the studios – in bottles hand-made at the JamFactory. Substantial matched funding was provided through a Commonwealth Government program for tourism.
The Biennale of Sydney turns 40 years old with the 19th iteration next March, and with Director Juliana Engberg’s title You Imagine What You Desire reflecting a suitably dazed and confused 21st century condition... or was it her own wish list for the desired gargantuan scale of the event – 90 artists from 31 countries, many showing in Sydney for the first time. Venues are the Art Gallery of NSW, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA), Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour, Artspace plus for the first time Carriageworks where theatrical and filmic modes will feature. Imagine includes performative projects in Sydney’s CBD such as Nathan Coley’s text-based installations constructed from lights and scaffolding across the city and Lithuanian Eglé Budvytyté's street activations Choreography for the Running Male in which a group of gesturing men run through the city. At the MCA are a video installation by Pipilotti Rist and a pleasure-world of colour and light by Douglas Gordon. Yingmei Duan will be living at the Art Gallery of NSW throughout the 12-week exhibition and visitors will travel through a forest built inside where the artist will be dispensing prophecies and poetic observations. Romanian Mircea Cantor’s short film and installation of wall text on the other hand is fashioned with dynamite. On Cockatoo Island Danish artist duo Randi & Katrine create a wonderland in the style of a typical Danish village. In the vast Turbine Hall fellow Dane Eva Koch has a life-sized projection of Gljufrabui, the Icelandic waterfall, accompanied by a roaring soundtrack. At Carriageworks: Austrian Mathias Poledna; Israeli-born Yael Bartana; Gabriel Lester (Netherlands) and Tacita Dean (UK). Artspace artists include Ugo Rondinone, Maxime Rossi and Henna-Riikka Halonen.
It is free and runs from 21 March until 9 June 2014 at five venues across Sydney.
LIP lives again
The famous feminist art magazine of the 1980s has been anthologised for the first time in a volume published by Macmillan and Kunstverein, edited by Vivian Ziherl. The Lip Anthology features ground breaking projects and artist-pages, essays and activist reports from Lip magazine, a lightning rod for Australian feminist artistic practice through the Women’s Liberation era evidencing the range and dynamism of contesting feminisms that comprised the Lip project. Launching on 5 December at the MCA in Sydney in association with the exhibition War is Over (If you want it): Yoko Ono.
Collision and darkness
At the Adelaide Festival in March, the ‘Adelaide International’, Worlds in Collision curated by Richard Grayson has work by Benedict Drew (UK)?Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (Lebanon/Frane),?Susan Hiller (UK),?Paul Laffoley (US),?Rä di Martino (Italy),?Katie Paterson (UK),?Fred Tomaselli (US) and?Artur Zmijewski (Poland) across five venues. Artists Week is where you can hear some of these artists speaking about enlightenment and psychedelic thinking so roll up to the Allan Scott Auditorium above the Samstag Museum of Art, at the University of SA. Skywhale a gigantic balloon creature by Patricia Piccinini will add to the over-heated air in Adelaide over that first weekend in March. At the Art Gallery of SA, the Director Nick Mitzevitch has curated Dark Heart, the 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian bravely seeking to explore notions of emotional darkness and the underbelly of society, with 25 well known Australian artists including Brook Andrew, Del Kathryn Barton, Ian Burns, eX de Medici, Julia deVille, Ian Strange and Warwick Thornton.
The Melbourne artworld and beyond is waiting for what is expected to be a landmark trial of art and child pornography with the arrest and charging of the young artist Paul Yore whose decorative brightly coloured, petitpoint ‘environments’ harking back to sixties psychedelia and flower power made up of a forest of objects have become of interest to the police. Yore’s subject matter is the nature of consumer and phallocentric culture, and not surprisingly contains images of phalluses and slogans such as Everything is Fucked in gorgeous rainbow hues. Within this bewildering matrix if you look carefully you might find faces which could be children. It is not clear what the harm was alleged to be, but it seems the ‘children and art’ card will be thrown on the table with all the force of the law. A piece of Yore’s work which was removed from the Sydney Contemporary Art Fair just hours before the opening had apparently already been sold to Artbank. The celebrated artist Juan Davila suffered similar attention from the constabulary in the 1980s, but was never charged. In the case of photographer Bill Henson, after the panic over his work in 2008 had abated, not before he had been pilloried in the media, and works had been removed from displays in Canberra and elsewhere, it seemed his reputation was restored and the absurdity of the accusations was acknowledged. But now he has withdrawn from participating in the Adelaide Biennial after a detective alerted the Premier to the possibility that there would be naked children in it (which was not in fact the case). There is a fashion these days for art museums to seek participation from the public, but this is probably not quite what they had in mind.
Ecology and sculpture
2014 Palmer Sculpture Biennial opens on Saturday 8 March at 12 noon. It will comprise works by 24 selected artists, including one each from Peru and Brazil. The site is the former grazing land about 70km east of Adelaide, which is being restored by its owner well known sculptor Greg Johns and the works enjoy vast expanses of space in this quiet rainshadow environment. http://palmersculpturebiennial.org
Commissions and awards
• The collaborative four-artist group Brown Council has been selected for the third Jackson Bella Room commission at the MCA in Sydney, for young people with specific needs. The Room is in their Centre for Creative Learning.
• The Blake Prize was awarded posthumously to Trevor Nickolls who died in 2012. The money will be used to create an art award in his name to assist emerging Aboriginal artists.
• Brian Robinson has won the Western Australian Indigenous Art Award.
• Justin Paton, previously Senior Curator at Christchurch Art Gallery, is now Head Curator of International Art at the Art Gallery of NSW.
• Alexie Glass-Kantor formerly Director of Gertrude Studios is the new Executive Director of Artspace in Sydney.
• Jonathan Parsons, fresh from directing the International Symposium on Electronic Art, is now Artistic Director of Experimenta.
• Rhana Devenport is the new Director of Auckland Art Gallery after seven years with the Govett-Brewster Gallery.
• Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh, previously Co-Directors of the Centre for Contemporary Art Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland, are the new Co-Directors of the IMA in Brisbane.
• Yasmin Grass curator of Light Square Gallery, ACArts College of TAFE has retired to paint after a great 24 year innings.
When the Royal Adelaide Hospital moves into its new building, its prime North Terrace site will be up for grabs. The Art Gallery of SA has jumped in and proposed an Art Discovery Centre, which would allow much more of its collection to be shown, as well as a sculpture garden.
Grid projects, run by volunteer co-directors, Sundari Carmody (artist), Alex Lofting (artist/designer) and Adele Sliuzas (curator) is a new artist run initiative (ARI) in Adelaide for promoting early career and unrepresented artists in South Australia. Its first project is a festival to connect local ARIs with five curated exhibitions, tours to artist studios, and a ‘SympARIum’. The selected artists have strong bodies of work on 21st century culture, gender, queer, feminism and the body. 20 February – 6 March 2014. http://gridprojectsari.com/
Flagging a significant escalation in the situation discussed on page 47- 49 of this issue, the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC), the agency managing native title interests on North Stradbroke Island, testified before a Queensland parliamentary committee hearing on 31 October, calling for an inquiry into what it identifies as inappropriate and inequitable behaviour between the Newman Government and Sibelco, the multinational sand mining company on the island. Discussions leading up to the government’s proposed legislation to extend sand mining to 2035 did not include QYAC in any way. QYAC asserts that such legislation, if passed, would be in contempt of the Federal court and the Native Title Act and denies the Quandamooka peoples’ human rights as First Nations people with far-reaching implications for native title bodies in all states and territories. QYAC has asked for a referral of the behaviour between the Premier and Sibelco to the Crime and Misconduct Commission.
Information supplied by Carol Schwarzman
Artlink in Berlin
Art Week in Berlin in mid-September each year is packed program of exhibitions and includes two art fairs, both with an edgy, anything could happen at any moment feel about them, and both sited in old warehouses refined by the most minimal of fitout. Without the corporate glamour, the whiteness, the brightly coloured catalogues and the sound of money discreetly changing hands which characterise a normal art fair, these are noisy, a little gritty, slightly unsafe at times and appear to be organised by a bunch of arts people with ownership of the event. Artlink went to Berlin, with the assistance of Arts Queensland, to introduce this community of artists and their supporters to the new similarly cool Australian Indigenous art. In advance of the openings of the fairs we ran a forum at the Australian Embassy at which celebrated artists, curators and writers Djon Mundine, Alick Tipoti, Julie Gough, Troy Anthony Baylis, Bernard Lüthi, and Stephanie Radok presented work and ideas to a packed venue. European notions of Indigenous contemporary art now, twenty years since the first major Aboriginal art exhibition in Europe, Aratjara, were flagged and much discussed at the reception afterwards where copies of Artlink Indigenous were made available. Artlink had a stand for the four days of MISS READ, the alternative art book fair with its fascinating people and products, which was attached to abc: the art berlin contemporary fair in a cavernous free-flowing space at Station Berlin. Next gig was the Preview Berlin art fair, larger and defined by booths, sited on the fifth floor of a seemingly empty building. The Australian gallerist Michael Reid (who now has a gallery in Berlin), was showing Brian Robinson, Christian Thompson and Danie Mellor and the Artlink team addressed a group of interested arts people about Indigenous art; subsequently the group visited the National Ethnographic Museum in Dahlem to view the Oceanic collections, and had a fruitful meeting there with Martin Heller, one of the strategists working on the controversial new Humboldt Forum, due to open in 2019 – in of all things, a totally rebuilt Prussian palace in the middle of the city. This will house the national ethnographic collections and is referred to by some as the German equivalent of Paris’ Museé du quai Branly.