Issue 36:1 | March 2016 | Big Ideas
Big Ideas
Issue 36:1 | March 2016
Issue 10:4 | December 1990 | 10th Birthday Issue
10th Birthday Issue
Issue 10:4 | December 1990


Return to the Wunderkammer

Eve Sullivan interviews Lisa Slade Curator of the 2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Magic Object 

The bicycle as dissident object

One of the centrepieces of Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei at the National Gallery of Victoria is a fresh iteration of Ai’s Forever sculpture. Located in the foyer, the sculpture consists of a towering arch of over 1,500 interconnected bicycles, all uniformly produced to a minimalist design. The Forever series is now among Ai’s most known works, having been exhibited in many configurations in museums and public spaces in London, Taiwan, Taipei, Venice and Toronto and elsewhere. The namesake is China’s Yong Jiu (which translates as“Forever”) brand of bicycle. Established in the 1940s, the prized Forever brand dominated China’s cycling culture for several decades before the car became more widely used. For Ai there is a tainted nostalgia about the Forever bicycle. In the remote village where he was raised after his father – an enlightened and popular poet – was exiled from Beijing, the bicycle was not only needed for travel but for transporting things. It was also out of reach to all but the well-off, a high status object of intense desire for a child like Ai living in poverty.

George Gittoes and the social turn in Afghanistan

Much of the discourse around contemporary art in the last twenty years has been about the social turn, a catch-all for collaborative, conversational and relational practices of one kind or another. Claire Bishop has argued that much of this discourse is not about art at all, but ethics. She says that social practices should not be mistaken for ethical practices, comparing the art gallery dinners of Rirkrit Tiravanija to Santiago Sierra’s tattooed Mexican junkies, and the community outreach of Oda Projesi to Jeremy Deller’s re-enactment of a miner’s strike protest in Britain. Here an ethical debate turns into a political one, as Bishop finds an analogy for social conflict in Deller and Sierra, in the way that their work does not carry a clear social message but enacts an ambivalence that suspends ethical judgement.

Material thinking and sustainability in contemporary ceramics

Ceramics has always been about the sticky materiality of clay. Unlike other mediums where the material is often the passage for the artistic idea or vision, the medium itself drives the concept. This gooey, organic substance has for thousands of years been crafted into a myriad of forms and textures. Recently, we’ve been hearing of a “revival” or “rediscovery” but potters and ceramicists have always engaged critically with their material – challenging form, pushing technical boundaries, experimenting with the baffling chemistry of glazes, subverting embodied narratives – in an attempt to understand their material. Over the last decade the field of ceramics has expanded to incorporate those that work with clay, rather than just those that were trained in clay, and along with it a flow of critical thinking and collaboration in art, craft and design is blossoming, driven by the possibilities of new artistic materials, and the need to find sustainable solutions for those already in use.


Sometimes my life as an artist feels a little fraudulent. For twenty years I worked and still work as a curator although I was trained as a painter. No art administration for me! I am an artist. So I always felt a little fraudulent as a curator as well. When I left university I wanted desperately to be an artist. Living and working in Wollongong did not present many options so we created them ourselves. In 1995, along with Lisa Havilah and Nathan Clarke, we opened Project Contemporary Art Space. About a year later I started working with Guy Warren at the University of Wollongong. Then that’s it for the artists’ life for nearly the next twenty years.

On First Nations agency in our European-based cultural institutions

Art, performance, and spoken or now written text, all belong to the same register of cultural practice in the First Nations I am familiar with or belong to: ceremony. This ceremonial register takes place in a set of spaces created to enact cultural responsibilities to place, people and balance. Galleries and museums, as sites of cultural production and presentation, have the potential to nurture new ceremonies and new working methods.

Lucy Bleach: Tectonic slowness

Lucy Bleach quietly moved mountains in 2015. Based in Hobart, for a number of years her work has used the language of geology to explore volatility, impact and resonance. By slowing down the experience of these forces, the slow flux of her artworks present opportunities for intimate encounter and reflection. Increasingly, her innate sculptural sensibility has also brought these concerns to an expanded field of sites, communities and histories, generating collaborative projects that engage people in deeply felt, transformative processes. Last year saw these concerns blossom in a series of five major projects, that collectively identify her as one of the most exciting, dynamic and significant artists operating in Tasmania today.

Artist-run initiative: Fontanelle moving to Port Adelaide

Eve Sullivan in conversation with Fontanelle directors Brigid Noone and Ben Leslie

The new National Gallery Singapore: A monument for intersecting histories

The founding father of independent Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, famously lectured his citizens that “Life is a marathon” (without a finish line), encouraging them to work towards long-term rather than to sprint to short-term goals, not only for the individual but more so for the state. His life’s achievement came to an end on the 23rd of March this year; but his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, subsequently realised one of the citystate’s long-term goals when he launched the National Gallery Singapore (NGS) on 23 November 2015.

Looking Back: A decade of Artlink 1981 -1991
History of the trials and triumphs of Artlink over its first decade - a wonderful achievement for a small regional arts magazine.
10th Birthday Issue
It's on Disc! Magazine Production on the Desktop
Producing a quality art magazine on computer without moving from your desk. The impact of electronic publishing and traditional methods. Explores publishing art magazines.
10th Birthday Issue
Biennale of Sydney Authority = Potential
The last 10 years has seen a noticeable empowerment of the visual art institutions in Australia. As recently as the late seventies the Sydney Biennale still sometimes happened every three years. In 1980 the Adelaide Festival was as yet innocent of Artist's Week and the Adelaide Biennial.
10th Birthday Issue
Artists Week
Artists' Week was established in 1982 as an initiative of the South Australian visual arts community in reponse to the poor emphasis on visual art in the Adelaide Festival Program and to the growing need for forums to discuss art.
10th Birthday Issue
A Critical Evaluation of the First Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art
Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art Art Gallery of South Australia Adelaide 2 March - 22 April 1990 Confined exclusively to Australian art - the Whitney Biennial is a model - the Adelaide Biennials will both complement the international Biennale of Sydney and posit alternatives to the surveys of current art represented by the biennial Australian Perspecta exhibitions at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
10th Birthday Issue
Quo Vadis Sculputre: The Fourth Australian Sculpture Triennial
The Melbourne Festival and the Fourth Australian Sculpture Triennial reflections, projections, prognosis....
10th Birthday Issue
To Market, To Market: The second Contemporary Art Fair
Held Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building Melbourne 21- 24 June 1990, the success of the second Contemporary Art Fair surprised just about everyone.
10th Birthday Issue
Getting the Picture? The Visual Arts in Australia in the Electronic Media
There's no climate of criticism which takes the media themselves seriously as art, so it's hardly surprising if the media return that compliment to art.
10th Birthday Issue
Arts on the ABC: Chris Westwood and the New Deal for Radio National and ABC FM
Chris Westwood and the New Deal for Radio National and ABC FM.
10th Birthday Issue
Ausgraph 90 Arts and Video Show
Over 100 individuals, companies and institutions contributed to the success of teh Ausgraph 90 Art and Video Program.
10th Birthday Issue
Contemporary Soviet Art
How can one describe contemporary Soviet fine art? How is it connected with the heritage of the avant garde of the revolutionary years? How are they related to the urgent problems of international art?
10th Birthday Issue
What It Is Not; Misreading the East
The Wall is down. The east is no longer red. Did we win? The Washington Post has called it the end of history, so something must be happening.
10th Birthday Issue
Art in Vietnam Now
A report from a week's visit to art schools, museums, galleries and artists' organisations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City October 1990.
10th Birthday Issue
Treading Terra Technic
Advanced Technology Artworks by Paula Dawson and Jill Scott.
10th Birthday Issue
Ripples from the Margin: Refractory Speculations on the Myths of Oz
About 95% of registered Australian architects are male. As writers on architecture, women are most likely to be found in our 'traditional' role as hagiographers - disciplinary 'handmaidens to the Heroes' - chronicling the erection of Icons and the cultural penetration of Canons - often described as 'seminal works'.
10th Birthday Issue
Art in Space
As artists strive to turn outer space iinto a new canvas for creative expression, some of their proposals have provoked controversy.
10th Birthday Issue
Fred Truck's ArtEngine
A case study in the problematics of software art. The author test drives Fred Truck's ArtEngine a robot artwork that makes art. (sic). The work is in the form of a sizable piece of software written for the Mac2 computer.
10th Birthday Issue
The Many Faces of Design
A festival for schools initiated by the Key Centre for Design at RMIT aims to encourage young people to explore aspects of their human made environment.
10th Birthday Issue
Traces of Light: An Interview with Thierry Kuntzel
The slide from film to video may perhaps one day be compared to the move away from the alexandrine and toward free verse poetry - out of this there emerged a reflection on the literary fate of language and the same is happening today for the image.
10th Birthday Issue
The Route You Take...
Photographs of Fiona Hall's work The route you take... installation shot and details, aluminium soft drink cans Contemporary Art Centre October 1990 Australian Centre for Photography November - December 1990
10th Birthday Issue
Powder: Four Adelaide Sculptors
Exhibition review Powder: Jam Factory Bullring Adelaide South Australia October 1990
10th Birthday Issue
Breaking the Toy
Exhibition review Zerospace at the Experimental Art Foundation Adelaide South Australia 1990
10th Birthday Issue
A Lyrical Containment: Sculpture by Nicole Page-Smith
Exhibition review Nicole Page-Smith Tony Oliver Gallery Melbourne Victoria
10th Birthday Issue
Art and Architecture Thesaurus
Book review Art and Architecture Thesaurus: Toni Peterson (director) New York: Oxford University Press Published on behalf of the Getty Art History and Information program 1990 Set of three volumes ISBN0-19-506403 -8
10th Birthday Issue
The Kakadu National Bank
Loggers can learn to love trees......
10th Birthday Issue
Moana Project Space becomes a Fremantle Success story

Eve Sullivan in conversation with director Dale Buckley about a new gallery in the basement of a former department store in Fremantle