Archived Exhibitions 2009
7 March — 25 April
The Same River Twice: Part 2
Greek philosopher Heraclitus is famed for his observation that 'no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.' With its stellar international line-up, The Same River Twice deals with a hot theme in recent art—historical reenactment. The artists all remake or recall history, with a twist. The second installment features three artists. British artist Emma Kay tries to recall all of art history and all Shakespeare's plays from memory, without recourse to reference works. The gaps and distortions in her account suggest her own levels of interest, experience, and priorities. Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy restage Vito Acconci performances-for-video in the manner of a Californian porn movie, at once irreverently trumping and revealing subtexts in their original. For Godville, American artist Omer Fast interviews the 'living historians' of Colonial Williamsberg, who live in eighteenth-century style for the edification and amusement of tourists. This video work mixes up comments they make 'in character' with comments about their real lives in a meditation on the social and political fragmentation of American society, spiritual oppression, bigotry, sadness, war, ethics, and god. Curated by Angela Goddard and Robert Leonard. [image: Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy]
Dorothy Napangardi / John Reynolds
This show places the paintings of Dorothy Napangardi and John Reynolds in conversation. An experimental Warlpiri artist from Mini Mina, Napangardi paints her country without recourse to traditional family iconography, inventing her own language to portray her country. Her paintings are filigrees of dotted lines that optically expand and contract, collide and implode. 'Her view is constantly changing: one painting giving an aerial perspective; the next being as if she has placed a microscope to the ground.' Auckland painter John Reynolds is known for his drawing-based paintings, many of which present fields of broken lines. Reynolds is known for mashing abstraction and language, conflating history painting and landscape, interweaving the 'primitive' and the digital, and playing on withheld meaning. [image: John Reynolds]
2 May — 27 June
Field of Vision
Lincoln Austin's abstract sculptures meld the interests of minimalism and op art to explore the ways regular, repeated forms can generate optical illusions and effects. The Ipswich-based artist is known for his small intricate works, but this will change with the imminent opening of Brisbane’s new building Northbridge, which features his massive wall relief Once Again. For our show, Austin presents two different kinds of work: a collection of his glistening silver-mesh sculptures, with their permutations of interpenetrating rectilinear forms, and Field of Vision, a gallery-filling relief that covers the floor and two walls and creates dazzling effects akin to lenticular images—it's his largest gallery piece to date. Austin is also our 2009 regional resident.
Second Life is a lab, a world lab, but it consists in a huge global economic system. It brings us business and democracy, at the same time with feelings and culture. We can’t avoid capitalism’s wave; at the same time, we can’t avoid Communist aspirations in our heart. This world is not only dualistic, we’re inconsistent. Communism is our Utopia, Second Life is our E-topia . . . SL is our mirror, it tells us the truth.—Cao Fei
Cao Fei is one of the key figures in a new generation of Chinese artists too young to have had any real engagement with either the Cultural Revolution or the Tiananmen Square Incident. Her work responds to China's rapid urbanisation, its giddying pace of social change and economic development.
Cao Fei became famous for her video Cosplayers (2004), which documented a subculture where people dress up in elaborate costumes modelled after those of video-game superheroes, and perform choreographed battles. Their fantasies are played out in the city of Guangzhou and its rural outskirts, where cattle roam. Afterwards, the cosplayers return home to assume their everyday lives: eating dinner, watching TV. Cao Fei followed this work with Whose Utopia (2006), which she filmed in a factory in the Pearl River Delta region, an area that has experienced massive economic growth. The predominantly young factory workers come from around the country, lured by opportunities. Whose Utopia contrasts the harsh reality of their repetitive manual labour with poetic moments they imagine and perform as dancers and musicians.
Since 2007 Cao Fei has been working online in Second Life under the guise of her avatar China Tracy (with her platinum hair and suit of armour). As an on-line platform, Second Life provides a parallel reality which simulates features of the real world: the fourteen-million registered users can purchase real estate, set up businesses, and engage in all manner of virtual interactions. In her 'documentary' I.Mirror (2007), Cao Fei provides an introduction to the beauty and excess of Second Life, as well as a depicting a romance between Tracy and an unknown avatar.
Cao Fei has continued to develop work in Second Life. She has built RMB City (2008) on the Second Life Creative Commons island of Kula. Candy-striped smoke stacks suggest continuous industrial production; missiles make unremitting preemptive strikes; ships move goods swiftly in and out of port; a giant shopping cart, filled with skyscrapers and religious monuments, floats in the harbour; and Tiananmen Square has been converted into a swimming pool. Named after Chinese money, RMB City is a perverse view of Beijing—a collusion of communism, socialism, and capitalism. Like Beijing itself, it is constantly under construction.
Cao Fei: Utopia is a joint project with Artspace, Auckland; curated by Emma Bugden and Robert Leonard. It will travel on to Artspace, Auckland; TheNewDowse, Hutt City; and Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
4 July — 22 August
Brisbane Airport Fresh Cut 2009
Yes, it's that time again. Time for our annual showcase of emerging Queensland artists. Last year we revised the format of the show with support from our major partner Brisbane Airport. Now we offer four artists up to six years out of art school who have not shown at the IMA before $5,000 each to create new work for the show. This year's artists are Aaron Burton, Sarah Byrne, Tim Kerr, and Hiromi Tango. They were chosen by artist Jemima Wyman; Simon Wright, QCA Gallery Director; and Robert Leonard, IMA Director. This year's show is big on video. Three of our four artists work principally in the medium. [image: Tim Kerr]
New Zealand artist Peter Robinson was last seen at the IMA in 2005, exhibiting alongside Gordon Bennett in the exhibition Three Colours. There he offered his sceptical take on post-colonial art-and-identity politics. His recent work, however, leaves such issues behind, in what seems like an abruptly formalist about-face. He has moved away from illustrating political, scientific, and philosophical ideas, and toward playing with materials and exploring the resulting poetic nuances. He's been working with polystyrene—that mundane, everyday material of consumer excess. A non-biodegradable thermo-plastic, it cushions our electronic goods in transit and pollutes our foreshores. In Robinson's work, it is also a sculptural material of infinite possibility—lightweight yet massive, able to fill large spaces yet also to articulate delicate forms. Robinson pursues multiple lines of inquiry, as if, given polystyrene's association with disposability, any number of sculptural experiments could be explored, cast aside, and reworked. His work ranges from roughly hewn, lumpen forms to intricately carved, baroque ones. In our show, Robinson continues his recent exploration of the monolith. In conjunction with Artspace, Sydney; supported by Creative New Zealand, University of Auckland, and Brisbane's Urban Art Projects.
Vernon Ah Kee at Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
In the 2008 Biennale of Sydney, indigenous artist Vernon Ah Kee appropriated a disused toilet block on Cockatoo Island as an art work, titling it Born in this Skin. Full of racist, sexist, homophobic, and otherwise repugnant graffiti, the room offered a chilling reminder of the reality of living with prejudice. For the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, he presents graffiti-covered doors from the toilets. These obscene found drawings offer a counterpoint to the ennobling portraits of relatives for which Ah Kee is known. Presented in conjunction with Sydney Harbour Federation Trust (Cockatoo Island). 21–23 August, Tanks Art Centre, Cairns.
29 August — 17 October
An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar
An ethnography of the American psyche rendered through an obsessive documentation of its repressed places.—Geoffrey Batchen
What's most strongly conveyed, perhaps, by a close study of these photographs, is how intricate and often systematic this off-limits land of ours is—how conscientious we can be about what we don't want to be conscious of.—New York Times Magazine
Inspired by rumours of WMDs and secret sites in Iraq, Taryn Simon decided to address secret sites in her own country. For An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar (2006), she photographed hidden places and things within America's borders. Ranging across the realms of science, government, medicine, entertainment, nature, security, and religion, they include glowing radioactive capsules in an underwater nuclear-waste storage facility, a braille edition of Playboy, a death-row prisoners' exercise yard, an inbred tiger, corpses rotting in a Forensic Research Facility, and a Scientology screening room.
Shot over four years, mostly with a large-format view camera, the images are sometimes ethereal, sometimes foreboding, sometimes deadpan, sometimes cinematic. In examining what is integral to America's foundation, mythology, and daily functioning, the Index provides a surprising map to the American mindset.
Simon has long been attentive to photography's limitations—her earlier series The Innocents (2003) documented cases where photographic evidence was implicated in wrongful convictions. The images in the Index are all accompanied with texts, which crucially expose what photography cannot say.
[image: Cryopreservation Unit, Cryonics Institute, Clinton Township, Michigan 2004–7. © 2007 Taryn Simon. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery/Steidl.]
The Declaration of Resemblance and Fluid Insurgents
Jemima Wyman's new photo-collages and video were inspired by the improvised radical chic of liberation armies. The 'irregular military' routinely distinguish themselves through their distinctive patterned/camouflaged outfits made in off-the-rack fabrics (like plaids), which simultaneously operate both as corporate uniform and disguise. In her collages, figures disappear into or lurk within patterns that underpin corporate emblems. A skull, for instance, becomes a hive of deadly insurgents, floral yet festering. Meanwhile, her video explores camouflage in conjunction with humorous scenarios, violent actions, sexual titillation, and nauseating sound.
A Man Called Love
Tamar Guimaraes's fascinating and poetic slide-show A Man Called Love (2007) tells the true story of Francisco Candido Xavier (1910–2002), a Brazilian psychic medium who dedicated his life to writing down the words spoken to him by the dead. The most prolific psychographer of all time, he wrote over 400 books. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was a celebrity in Brazil, drawing large crowds whenever he appeared in public. His novel Our Home (first published in 1944 and continually in print ever since) describes a city where the recently deceased learn and work. It goes on to narrate a tropical vision of social democracy, describing a town with magnificent squares and benches for a million people, where delicate flowers grow amid illuminated fountains. For Guimaraes, speaking of Xavier requires addressing Brazil's race and class relations, and its military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985, during which Xavier enjoyed his greatest popularity. She addresses the development of spiritism in Brazil, its early association with utopian socialisms, and subsequent distancing from them during the dictatorship. A Man Called Love makes use of archival images of Xavier, of spirit materialisations produced in the 1930s and 1940s in Brazil, of Rio and Sao Paulo, and of protests against the military regime in the late 1960s. A joint project with Artspace, Sydney.
24 October — 12 December
Mirror Mirror: Then and Now
In the 1960s, mirrors began to be used by artists across a spectrum of international movements including pop, kinetic, minimal, and conceptual art. Mirror surfaces reflected the environment and the viewer, 'like a visual pun on representation', as Ian Burn observed. Not just a looking glass, mirrors indexed the instability of perception, while inviting a viewer to participate in the purported endgame of late modernism. Mirror Mirror presents classic mirror pieces from the 1960s and early 1970s by major artists including Robert Smithson, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Art & Language, Ian Burn, Joan Jonas, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Yoko Ono, Meret Oppenheim, Richard Hamilton, and Shusaku Arakawa. Alongside them are works by contemporary Australian artists—Robyn Backen, Christian Capurro, Peter Cripps, Mikala Dwyer, Alex Gawronski, Callum Morton, Eugenia Raskopoulos, Jacky Redgate, and Robert Pulie—that offer all kinds of interconnections and reverberations with the earlier work. Mirror Mirror: Then and Now has been curated by Ann Stephen, and is a joint project with the University Art Gallery, University of Sydney, in association with Samstag Museum of Art, Adelaide. The publication has been supported by a grant from the Gordon Darling Foundation. [image: Richard Hamilton]
In 2006, we presented Greatest Hits / Previously Unreleased Tracks, a selection of video works from Queensland artists. It toured. Volume II is a follow up, showcasing recent and not-so-recent videos by Queensland artists that we have worked with over the last couple of years. Aaron Burton's Paradise is a sordid documentary about partying kids at Surfers Paradise. Grants Stevens's Matter satirises cosmic awe, the unthinkable numbers involved in imagining the universe. Indigenous artist Vernon Ah Kee scrambles identity codes in his perverse self-portrait Whitefellanormal, originally produced as a thirty-second TV ad. The participants in Laith McGregor's Ball Games seem to be flirting with us (or engaged in some bizarre form of self-pleasuring), until we realise what's really going on. Jemima Wyman's The Difficult Word is based on a peepshow-style performance, where viewers placed their heads through apertures in a soft-sculpture enclosure to watch the artist abjectly writhe around under disco lights, fully encased in stretchy, stripey, glittery clothes. Sculptor Lincoln Austin carries his abstract optical enquiries into video. Hiromi Tango observes herself asleep, cocooned in one of her installations. Gabriella and Silvana Mangano's videos combine their interests in drawing and self-portaiture; their Drawing 2 is shot from photographs of the twins wearing photocopied masks, as if to hide from the camera while they apparantly stare into it. [image: Grant Stevens]