ArtChat. Fast chats on hot topics!

artchat

I was invited by Museums and Galleries of NSW to present last night at ArtChat. Fast chats on hot topics!

In the fourth of this annual series, ArtChat featured a line-up of established and emerging independent curators who are all working with contemporary practice across the visual arts, craft and design, time-based and experimental arts. The evening explored imaginative ideas in a fast-paced, invigorating and sometimes humorous format, providing a snapshot of the exciting curatorial projects proposed by today’s creative thinkers.

Speakers included Joanna Bayndrian, Bec Dean, Micheal Do, Danielle Robson, Nina Stromqvist, Una Rey and myself. You can watch mine above (please turn up the volume – my voice was not being kind to me that day!), and view all the presentations on the MGNSW website.

artchat
Though a little nervous about presenting I enjoyed the night and it was great to showcase one of my ideas-in-progress to a wider audience. Thanks to Museums and Galleries of NSW and Regional and Public Galleries of NSW for the opportunity.

‘tensions/translations/transitions’ at Dominik Mersch Gallery

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‘tensions/translations/transitions’

CURATOR AWARD WINNER 2016
CHLOE WOLIFSON

OPENING: Thursday 5th May, 6 – 8 pm
EXHIBITION DATES: 05.05 – 28.05.16

ARTISTS:
JON CATTAPAN
JANET LAURENCE
ANNA McMAHON
MATHEW McWILLIAMS
EMILY SANDRUSSI
CHARLIE SOFO

I have the honour of being awarded the second Dominik Mersch Gallery Curator Award. My exhibition ‘tensions/translations/transitions’ will bring together work by six artists employing physical and psychological markers and layers to evoke the tensions, translations and transitions occurring in our relationships with space and place. In bringing together these works I question if perhaps new or unexpected tensions, translations or transitions will emerge to the viewer.

‘tensions/translations/transitions’ opens on 5th of May. EXHIBITION DATES: 05.05. – 28.05.15

Read announcement here: DMG Curator Award 2016unnamed (1)

Revisiting Singapore

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In January I was invited to Singapore to experience Art Week – my second such trip in as many years. I covered the major South-East Asian fair Art Stage Singapore, as well as the exhibition Time of Others at Singapore Art Museum, for Art Monthly. While I was there I also explored the recently unveiled National Gallery of Singapore, checked out the respected Singapore Tyler Print Institute, and, along with many others, braved the rain during cultural precinct Gillman Barracks’ Art After Dark. Highlights of that experience included the Joan Jonas survey exhibition They come to us without a word at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, and Antipodean Inquiry, curated by Owen Craven at Yavuz Gallery.

Gillman was also occupied by a collection of shipping containers re-purposed as exhibition spaces by emerging Singaporean artists. It was great to see Singapore’s cultural life on the up-and-up and I hope to have the opportunity to return next year to see how things are evolving.

The pieces I wrote in response to Time of Others and Art Stage can be read in the March 2016 edition of Art Monthly, which marks a turning point in the magazine’s history as it widens its focus to Australia and the Asia-Pacific. The March issue is an Asian special exploring Australia’s historic and contemporary engagement with Asia across the visual arts, in celebration of the magazine’s newly expanded masthead. It’s humbling to be in printed company with such contributors as Russell Storer and Mami Kataoka – I hope you have a chance to check out the newly re-titled Art Monthly Australasia.

50 things collectors need to know in 2016

Work by Abdul Abdullah on the cover of Art Collector Issue 75

Work by Abdul Abdullah on the cover of Art Collector Issue 75

Art Collector Issue 75 has hit the shelves. The 50 things collectors need to know in 2016 issue features profiles of standout shows and artists, trends and taste-makers. I’ve contributed pieces on up-and-coming photographer Ashleigh Garwood, and arts policy campaign #FreeTheArts. Get thee to a newsagent and get in on the action!

Some thoughts on El Anatsui at Carriageworks

El Anatsui, installation view, Carriageworks, Sydney, 2016

El Anatsui in front of his work Adinkra Sasa, 2003, Carriageworks, Sydney, 2016. Photo: Chloé Wolifson

El Anatsui is making work about the primary concern of our age: the environmental catastrophe which has already begun to occur as a result of human impact on earth.  His sourcing and handling of materials speaks to a resourcefulness humans have forgotten in a capitalist age of plenty, but sorely need in order to stave off impending doom. His gathering of materials and visual devices from his surroundings, and the subsequent giving-over of control of the display of his work to curatorial staff in each varied exhibition context, bring to mind a trust of local knowledge and ingenuity that perhaps is being eroded in the face of globalisation.

El Anatsui, Open(ing) Market, 2004 (detail) metal (tin), paper, paint, and wood (iroko and plywood) approx. 8.0 x 8.0m (1755 pieces total) dimensions variable. Installation view, Carriageworks, Sydney, 2016. Photo: Chloé Wolifson

El Anatsui, Open(ing) Market, 2004 (detail) metal (tin), paper, paint, and wood (iroko and plywood) approx. 8.0 x 8.0m (1755 pieces total) dimensions variable. Installation view, Carriageworks, Sydney, 2016. Photo: Chloé Wolifson

The mass movement of goods is of great interest to Ghanaian-born, Nigerian-based Anatsui, and the scale as well as minutiae of his work reflects this. His works incorporate quotidian objects and while some such as those adorning the bottle caps he favours will only be recognisable to those familiar with Anatsui’s home country, others such as the ubiquitous Milo logo transcend borders. Indeed, there are certainly map-like suggestions in Anatsui’s works. A topography emerges out of the many small objects he joins and presents en masse, and different techniques are sometimes used across the same piece, inhabiting their own nation-like states yet spilling into each other as the inhabitants of nation states tend to do.

El Anatsui, Tiled Flower Garden, 2012 (detail) aluminum and copper wire approx. 12x12m dimensions variable. Installation view, Carriageworks, 2016. Photo: Chloé Wolifson

El Anatsui, Tiled Flower Garden, 2012 (detail) aluminum and copper wire approx. 12x12m dimensions variable. Installation view, Carriageworks, 2016. Photo: Chloé Wolifson

At the media viewing at Carriageworks earlier this week, Anatsui said that when the work is finished on the studio floor, that’s not the end but rather the beginning of its life as a work of art. His studio is small relative to the spaces where his works are presented, enabling works to transform as they are spread out, wall-mounted and draped in ever-new ways (he doesn’t provide presentation instructions). He seemed genuinely pleased to see pieces from the last 50 years of his practice presented amongst the soaring industrial interior of Carriageworks, as well as the newly minted Schwartz Carriageworks gallery (the result of Anna Schwartz’s recent fiscal and spatial gift to the institution).

El Anatsui, installation view, Carriageworks, Sydney, 2016

El Anatsui, Stressed World, 2011 (detail), found aluminum and copper wire 4.4 x 6.0m installed dimensions. Installation view, Carriageworks, Sydney, 2016. Photo: Chloé Wolifson

The bottle-cap works are inspired by the idea of textiles (a practice his own family is known for) and their flexibility seems a natural extension of this. However Anatsui’s approach more generally signifies a freedom he has sought from early in his career.  While most artworks are fixed with the same image or posture for their lifetime, life itself is dynamic and Anatsui feels that art should have that property as well – to be able to adapt to its circumstances and suggest new things. He sees his work as creating data for others to use – a responsive approach perfectly suited to our current moment.

El Anatsui: Five Decades
Until 6 March 2016
Carriageworks, Sydney

2015 by numbers

2015 started with a bang with my first trip to Singapore to check out Singapore Art Week.

2015 started with a bang with my first trip to Singapore to check out Singapore Art Week.

Happy new year! The fuse for 2016 is well and truly lit, but before it rockets out of control I decided to crunch the numbers for 2015 and see how I fared in my second full year of freelance life. So here are the stats for the year that was:

49 interviews conducted

28 hours of audio transcribed

33,565 words published

60 articles & essays commissioned

1 exhibition curated

5 panel discussions facilitated

12 clients worked with

5 art fairs visited

Making the most of my Starving Curator residency at The Bearded Tit.

Making the most of my Starving Curator residency at The Bearded Tit.

2015 was also a year of firsts for me:

Facilitated a panel discussion – I threw myself in the deep end here, with the first of my Wandering Mind panel discussion series being included in the Vivid Ideas program and attracting an audience of 70 to Verge Gallery.

Wrote for an auction catalogue – I felt the pressure writing in this unfamiliar format but putting the works of formidable New Zealand painter Shane Cotton into context made it an enjoyable task.

Undertook a residency – I had a great time as Starving Curator in Residence at the Bearded Tit in Redfern, using the time to meet with artists and develop the exhibition ANIMAL/MINERAL/PHYSICAL/SPIRITUAL (and also drink wine and sample every cheese on the Tit’s excellent Jacuzzerie Boards).

Led an international tour group around Sydney galleries – I had a wonderful day with a group of arts lovers from New York’s Joyce Theatre visiting with Inzone Travel. The conversation ranged from contemporary art to Indigenous history to economic policy, and I’m proud to say I convinced a diehard Starbucks lover to enjoy a piccolo latte. (So hipster.)

Received a writing commission from overseas – I was commissioned to cover the Australian art market for Art Stage Singapore’s new publication Catalyst. I’m not great at goal-setting (those lessons in year 9 Personal Development class never really stuck) but being included in an international publication has long been an aspiration. Can’t wait for the finished product to be in the hands of fair-goers from across the Asia-Pacific!

The first panel discussion I ever co-ordinated was included in Vivid Ideas - a baptism by fire in front of 70 people.

The first panel discussion I ever co-ordinated was included in Vivid Ideas – a baptism by fire in front of 70 people.

My final commission for 2015 was another first, an interview with John Choi of architectural firm CHROFI for Vault Magazine. Choi and his colleague Tai Ropiha are the team behind the iconic TKTS red staircase at Times Square in Manhattan, and CHROFI recently co-designed Sydney’s Goods Line. I won’t lie; I was even more nervous than usual going into this interview. However our enjoyable and wide-ranging conversation confirmed for me that solid research and an open mind are key to understanding all manner of practices.

I covered such a range of contemporary culture and ideas in my work in 2015, and can’t wait to discover even more in 2016. I hope you’ve got an exciting year in store too!

Patriotism, patriarchy and politics: 2015 feminism in context

Art Monthly produced a cracker summer feminism-themed issue, guest edited by Dr Susan Best and Louise Mayhew. The issue includes pieces on  feminist curatorial practice, activist art and queer art, as well as a centrefold with a difference – Mayhew’s timeline of women’s art collectives in Australia.

Writing a feminism-focussed round-up of the year in Australian art gave me pause for thought about the nation’s attitude to women more generally, particularly in light of 2015’s political goings-on. While it was a relief to leave behind Tony Abbott, Minister for Women, Turnbull’s respect-for-women rhetoric seems at this point to be mostly just lip service to the issue.

Just as citizens have reclaimed phrases such as ‘Destroy the Joint‘ and ‘Binders full of Women‘ in recent times, Peter Dutton’s ‘Mad f***ing witch‘ comment has similarly energised people in 2016. It will be interesting to revisit this issue in 12 months’ time and see if and how we have evolved.

 

Interview with Francis Upritchard

Journal of Australian Ceramics

 

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of interviewing the wonderful New Zealand-born, London-based artist Francis Upritchard for The Journal of Australian Ceramics. This issue, themed around colour, was guest-edited by Sydney artist Madeleine Preston.

It was great chatting with Francis and learning about the handmade pottery that surrounded her growing up, her accidental foray into a ceramics practice, and her current work breaking down boundaries between art, craft and design. Why are people unwilling to pay as much for a bowl as a painting?

The issue profiles many fantastic artists working in ceramics, including the excellent Apprentice Welder works by Yasmin Smith (written about by my Runway colleague Miriam Kelly). The cover stars are Lynda Draper and David Ray, whose works signify the playful, colourful tendencies in ceramics as it is currently being employed in contemporary art practice.

You can buy the issue in digital or hard copy, here.

ANIMAL/MINERAL/PHYSICAL/SPIRITUAL

I have curated an exhibition at Redfern bar and creative space The Bearded Tit, opening this evening (Monday, 31 August) from 6-8pm. The exhibition will continue until 10 October.  

Taking lyrics from the Joan Armatrading song Drop the pilot as a jumping-off point, ANIMAL/MINERAL/PHYSICAL/SPIRITUAL is an investigation of work which reinterprets, celebrates or fetishises found, organic and man-made materials and imagery through recontextualisation, accumulation and arrangement. The exhibition is an extension of the Bearded Tit’s cabinet-of-curiosities vibe. The totemic possibilities of these works will potentially manifest in new and exciting ways when experienced within the Tit’s unique atmosphere.

The exhibition includes works on paper, sculpture, installation and video work by Rebecca Gallo, Sarah Goffman, Lisa Sammut, and Lotte Schwerdtfeger in collaboration with Louise Meuwissen.

I hope Sydneysiders and visitors are able to visit the exhibition either for this evening’s celebrations or at some point over the next six weeks.

That was so RAVEN.

The first regular writing gig I managed to wrangle once I’d made the leap into freelance life in late 2013, was with RAVEN Contemporary. I, along with a slew of great writers worked initially under Georgia Sholl and subsequent editor Rebecca Gallo to produce reviews, gallery guides and opinion pieces exploring the world of contemporary art in an accessible way.

RAVEN, published by 10 Group, was wound up at the end of June this year but has been archived so that its content can continue to be available for interested readers. If you haven’t explored it before (or even if you have), take the time to bookmark the new url and check out some of my recent highlights from some of RAVEN’s great writers:

MONA, Marina and DARK MOFO – Rebecca Gallo
The art islands of Japan – Sharne Wolff
Cementing a friendship in Kandos – Rebecca Gallo
On this site: A celebration of difference – Kate Britton

I’ll miss writing for RAVEN, particularly the things I learned interviewing artists, researching galleries, and having the opportunity to cover Singapore Art Week. The experience had a profound impact on my development as an arts writer for which I’m very grateful.

The archive of the more than 20 pieces I wrote for RAVEN can be found here.