To mark the inaugural edition of our new three-part exhibition series, THE PUBLIC BODY, Artspace will present The Body, a public discussion with exhibition curators Talia Linz and Alexie Glass-Kantor alongside curators of four recent and upcoming exhibitions that examine the body as nude and naked, posthuman and as patient: New Romance: art and the posthuman, Museum of Contemporary Art, curated by Anna Davis; ThePatient, UNSW Art & Design, curated by Bec Dean; and Nude: art from the Tate collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), co-curated by Justin Paton, AGNSW with EmmaChambers, Curator of Modern British Art, Tate, London.
Facilitated by Jill Bennett, Professor and Director of the National Institute for Experimental Arts, UNSW Art & Design, the discussion will cover areas such as the contested space of the body and the approaches artists take locally and internationally when considering the space of the body through time, the pragmatic processes of commissioning new work and working with collections, inter-institutional collaboration and risk, articulating context, and ways of engaging new audiences.
Anna Davis joined the MCA as Curator in 2009 and since then has worked with numerous artists on a range of exhibitions, off-site projects, commissions and events. Her curatorial projects include: Energies: Haines & Hinterding (2015), Martu Art from the Far Western Desert (Co-Curator with Megan Robson) (2014), Workout: 7 days of experimental performance (2013), Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro (2012) and Primavera: Young Australian Artists (2011 & 2012). Anna holds a PhD in Media Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from the University of NSW, and her video art work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her most recent project New Romance: art and the posthuman (30 June - 4 September 2016) was co-curated with Houngcheol Choi from the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea. The exhibition brings together artists from Australia and Korea whose works encourage us to ask what it means to be human today, and what it might mean in the future. Drawing inspiration from science fiction, robotics, biotechnology, consumer products and social media, they offer experiences that raise questions around the idea of the posthuman; a concept that signals new understandings of humanity and a breakdown of boundaries between what we think of as natural and artificial. New Romance is a partnership between the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, it was presented in a different format at the MMCA Seoul from 22 September 2015 until 24 January 2016.
Images top to bottom: Anna Davis. Photo: Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Justin Shoulder, Carrion, 2016, performance, New Romance: art and the posthuman, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, courtesy and copyright the artist. Photo: Alex Davies
Justin Paton is Head Curator of International Art at the Art Gallery of NSW and an award-winning writer and television presenter on the arts. He was formerly Senior Curator at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu and Curator of Contemporary Art at Dunedin Public Art Gallery. He has written books on various artists including Ricky Swallow, Jeffrey Harris and Julia Morison. In 2012 Justin was the Katherine Mansfield Fellow in Menton, France. Justin’s major exhibition projects have included the group exhibitions De-Building and Unguided tours and survey exhibitions of New Zealand, Australian, English and American artists including painter Stanley Spencer, word artist Kay Rosen and video artist Daniel Crooks. He was curator of New Zealand’s official presentation, by Bill Culbert, at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.
In a partnership between Tate, London and the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney, Justin Paton and Emma Chambers, Curator of modern British art, Tate, will co-curate the upcoming major exhibition Nude: art from the Tate collection, an exhibition of over 100 major representations of the nude, including paintings, sculptures, photographs and prints by renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso, Lucian Freud, Henri Matisse and Louise Bourgeois.
Each artist in the exhibition will offer a different way of looking at the naked human body. Some look tenderly; some idealise it; some look anxiously or politically. Together they show how the nude in art has persisted yet changed, shifting shape and acquiring new meanings in the hands of successive generations, from the idealising painters of the Victorian era to the artist-provocateurs of our time.
Images top to bottom: Justin Paton. Photo: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Barkley L Hendricks, Family Jules: NNN (No Naked Niggahs), 1974, Tate: Lent by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery, courtesy of the North American Acquisitions Committee 2011. Copyright Barkley Hendricks, image copyright Tate, London 2016
Bec Dean is a curator and writer whose interests revolve around interdisciplinary and participatory art practices, performance, site-specificity, and science and humanities collaboration and reciprocity. She was formerly Associate Director, Performance Space where she went on to become Co-Director with Jeff Khan until early 2014. During this time she curated SEXES Festival with Deborah Kelly and Jeff Khan, Local Positioning Systems, Museum of Contemporary Art with Jeff Khan, and Awfully Wonderful: Science Fiction in Contemporary Art, Performance Space with Lizzie Muller. Bec is currently Curator at large for Performance Space and was previously Curator at the Australian Centre for Photography and Exhibition Manager at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art. She is a PhD candidate and tutor at UNSW Art & Design. Her thesis engages with approaches to care through curatorial practice, that transform foundational principles of care of collections and artworks to address biomateriality, liveness and the performance of the medicalised body in contemporary art contexts.
Her most recent independent project, The Patient was recently exhibited at UNSW Galleries, and is preparing for tour around regional NSW and Victoria. The exhibition explores the ways in which artists engage with powerful human experiences in the fields of health, biological science and medicine, contributing to discussion on the representation of illness, disease, care, individual agency and what it is to be human.
Images top to bottom: Bec Dean; The Patient, 2016, UNSW Art & Design. Photo: Silversalt Photography
Jill Bennett is Professor and Director of the National Institute for Experimental Arts at UNSW Art & Design. In her writing and teaching she has addressed many aspects of the body and subjectivity. Her books include Empathic Vision: Affect, Trauma and Contemporary Art (2005) and Practical Aesthetics: Events, Affect and Art After 9/11 (2012). Her curated exhibitions have explored body politics, marginalisation, traumatic experience, illness and neurological difference. Her current research projects are Curating Third Space, on art-science and audiences; and Mnemoscape, an immersive media project on memory loss with cognitive neuropsychologists. She is also developing a major arts festival for 2017 on the theme of anxiety.
Image: Jill Bennett
This public discussion will be followed at 4pm by a new performance, 6 metres of Plinth by The Public Body artist, Mark Shorter. This new work proposes a radical encounter between body, sculpture and plinth. Often considered an inert structure, the plinth will be transformed into a volatile wedge that pushes back at the objects it has traditionally supported. The resulting action will be a constant negotiation where the body responds to the plinth's new agency and the sculptures in between yield to the will of these contesting forces.
Image: Mark Shorter, 6 metres of Plinth (production image), 2016, courtesy the artist.
Mark Shorter (lives and works in Melbourne) is a lecturer in Sculpture and Spatial Practice at the Victoria College of the Arts. He studied at the National Art School, Sydney and the Sydney College of the Arts where he completed a PhD in Visual Arts.
Shorter’s practice deploys performance as an aesthetic strategy to challenge established conventions and to open up new ground for exploration, particularly in relation to the artist’s body and its representation. He has developed and performed identities such as the bawdy country music singer Renny Kodgers, the quixotic journeyman Tino La Bamba, and the time-travelling landscape painting critic Schleimgurgeln. These performance investigations express a unique contemporary grotesquerie and propose a criticality in art that is guttural, visceral and witty. Grounding these works is an interest in how performance functions within the visual arts and broader contemporary culture. Shorter regularly enacts work in atypical, alternative venues to consider the function of art both inside and outside conventional modes of display.
Shorter has exhibited internationally and throughout Australia, including: Mapping La Mancha, The Physics Room, Christchurch 2015; The Groker, Plato’s Cave, EIDEA House, New York 2015; 50 Ways to Kill Renny Kodgers, Contemporary Art Tasmania, Hobart, 2014, presented as a part of the Dark MOFO festival; Acts of Exposure, a survey of his Schleimgurgeln performance and video work, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, 2013; and Renny Kodgers LIVE with Pee Pee, presented as part of the Biennale of Sydney’s Superdeluxe@Artspace, 2010. From 2010 to 2012 he was the host of The Renny Kodgers Quiz Hour on FBi 94.5FM. His practice has been critically explored in the publications, Mapping La Mancha (2016), What is Performance Art? (2016) and Quixotic Visions, Lismore Regional Gallery (2013).