'Is the art world finally taking work created by women seriously?' Curiously, this question was asked not in the 1960s or the 1970s, when museum visitors sometimes struggled to find works by women artists on public display, but as recently as 2009 when London's Guardian newspaper heralded the all-female hang at the Beaubourg in Paris, entitled 'elles@centrepompidou'. Such acts of art-world assertion, where institutions are finally redressing the balance after decades - well, centuries of curatorial neglect, are to be rightfully welcomed, but the question persists: why do we need to differentiate women's art and why now?
With a steady progression of shows, both local and international, from 'WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution' in 2007 to 2011 'A Different Temporality: Aspects of Australian Feminist Art Practice 1975-1985. the impact of first-, second- and third-wave feminisms has resounded with increasing volume across the art landscape. And when Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) announced an all-female survey show for April 2012 with 'Contemporary Australia: Women', the noise became louder still, commanding our attention.
'Think big, and be loud', a catchphrase of the Sydney performance collective Brown Council and the title of the discussion that introduces our all-female features section, encapsulates the audible buzz in the Zeitgeist. Yet the feminist mood appears exploratory and open-ended rather than declarative, as our panel discussion attests. It seems the right moment, then, to ask: What are the crucial issues for women today? And, what would you like to see happen next, as women for women, in art and in cultural institutions? These are just some of the questions GoMA's Curatorial Manager of Australian Art, Julie Ewington, puts to our cross-generational panel of female artists and curators - and their responses, like the artists included in the issue, are as unpredictable as they are provocative.
In dedicating this March edition of Art & Australia to women artists, we have been wrestling with many of these same issues - and more. How does Sally Gabori, a senior Kaiadilt painter from a remote island in the Gulf of Carpentaria resonate with or relate to her Japanese contemporary Yayoi Kusama, whose practice was forged in the artistic epicentre of 1960s New York? How does the mother of performance art, Marina Abramovic, speak to her contemporary 'children'? And how can a single artwork such as Nalini Malani's Mother India express the magnitude of universal female experience or, even, in the case of Julie Rrap's 360 degree self-portrait, the full power of the individual? Thankfully art mistrusts definitive answers, but in posing these questions we hope to take readers closer to the essence of today's feminism 'something that is ineffable and yet enduring and all the while expressly female.
On a different note, our March issue also pays tribute to Australia's longest-serving gallery
director. In his thirty-three years at Sydney's Art Gallery of New South Wales, Edmund Capon has smoothly - and sagaciously - overseen sundry shifts in the museum world. His wit, wisdom and wonderful legacy are celebrated in our pages.Vol 49 No 3 Autumn 2012
The information: The generating art of Thomas Demand
Contradiction lies at the heart of Thomas Demand’s cross- disciplinary practice. His work is at once simple and complex, real and fake; his practice is sculptural and photographic (Demand creates models from paper and cardboard which are then captured on...
Hit me with a flower: The enveloping spirit of Pipilotti Rist
The world according to Pipilotti Rist is either sublime or scary, depending on how you look at it. It’s terrifying mostly because it reminds us that we have become detached from our biological bodies precisely because of the forms of digital media that she...
Zoom: The shape-shifting painting of Helen Eager
The reopening of Sydney’s expanded Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) galleries, National Centre for Creative Learning and refurbished cafe and public spaces has provided an opportunity for the museum to engage artists on a number of public commissions...
Through the looking glass: Yayoi Kusama's amazing world
I first encountered Yayoi Kusama when I visited her Tokyo studio in October 2009 to invite her to make a retrospective exhibition at Tate Modern. Kusama’s own ambition, relayed by her representatives in answer to my earlier written invitation, was to create a...
Nalini Malani: Bodies in pain
At thirteen metres across, Nalini Malani’s Mother India: Transactions in the construction of pain, 2005, is physically overwhelming. The five screens of this video installation are arranged in a semi-circle that surrounds the body, dominating one’s field of...
Sitting with Marina
Nothing quite prepared me for the utter simplicity of the woman in the vivid red gown seated at the table. It was 15 April 2010, almost officially spring in New York. In the great white box of the Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium at the Museum of...
Time passing upside down: Julie Rrap's 360 degree self-portrait
If art is to have any resonance in today’s world, pressured as it is with increasingly frantic and superficial types of human expression and interaction, then it must find ways to slow meaning down. Art at its most interesting impedes the otherwise rapid flow...
Sally Gabori's mind-mapped landscapes
In an art-world sense, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori is what many would call a ‘late bloomer’. Born around 1924, Gabori commenced painting in 2005 at a mere 80-oddyears of age. A Kaiadilt woman from tiny Bentinck Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria,...
Art &Australia / Credit Suisse Private Banking Contemporary Art Award: Rebecca Baumann
Imagine you had coloured confetti falling around you, constantly. This notional idea of creating a continuous colour experience marked the start of Rebecca Baumann’s artistic practice. She describes her early work from 2007, Confetti international, as her...
Gertrude Contemporary and Art &Australia Emerging Writers Program
Hovering on canvas in a state of permanent consternation, the floating head of Jenny Watson’s 1981 painting Mu–me was the first thing encountered on entering ‘A Different Temporality: Aspects of Australian Feminist Art Practice 1975–1985’. In a few cursory...
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