Who the bloody hell are we

Published in Art Collector, Issue 79, Jan-Mar 2017

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Jane O’Sullivan previews the multi-venue exhibition that the Australian contemporary art world has been waiting for.

The National. Another gumtree exhibition about what it means to be Australian? “Absolutely not,” says the MCA’s curatorial & digital director Blair French with a laugh. He admits it’s a provocative title but says that’s part of the point. “What it does is throws up the question, if you’re not creating a nationalist show or trying to work at ideas of nationhood, which we’re not, then how can you use that title to problematise those ideas?”

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Collectors take centrestage

Published in Art Collector, Issue 68, Apr-Jun 2014

"Collectors take centre stage" by Jane O'Sullivan in Art Collector

If you’re the sort of person who immediately asks a new acquaintance what art they like, then chances are you’ll be interested in a new project being mounted at Brenda May Gallery in Sydney that puts collectors in the spotlight. In June the gallery will exhibit art from the collections of two Sydney-based collectors, Gordon Elliott and Jeffrey Hinch. It is the first in what is intended to be a series of exhibitions taking place every two years showing what people are collecting.

While both collectors are obviously clients of Brenda May Gallery, the exhibition will also include work originally purchased at other galleries.
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Suspending belief

Published in Australian Art Collector, Issue 60, April – June 2012

After a hiatus of 24 years, performance artist Stelarc recently attempted another suspension in Melbourne. The performance was witnessed by a small group of art world VIPs at Scott Livesey Galleries. (The gallery closed the event to the public not because of safety concerns but simply because of the room needed for the winching system.)

Stelarc’s suspensions are somewhat legendary in the history of Australian performance art. In the intervening years since his last one he has continued to push boundaries in other directions. A recent project involved having a plastic ear surgically inserted under the skin of his arm.

His performance in March took place over a four metre long sculpture of the Ear on Arm project. Speaking to Australian Art Collector before the event, Stelarc explained the decision to sharpen the hooks once again. “This has occurred through an unexpected coupling of wanting to somehow reanimate and make more relevant these remote images of previous suspensions with a desire to expose the physicality of both the suspensions and the Ear On Arm project. The skin has always been a site for both exposing the body’s obsolescence and engineering its augmentations.”

The suspensions take “careful planning as to the mechanics” but the performance itself is handled more loosely. “It’s about allowing it to happen, with a posture of indifference, rather than expectation. At a certain time the suspension process will begin. And at an indeterminate time it will end.”

As for all the years since his last performance, the 66-year-old artist is unfazed. “They were always physically difficult. And previous suspensions never really prepared you for the next one. The problem will not be so much a problem of ‘all these years,’ but simply of managing another one.”

Footloose & fancy free

Published in Australian Art Collector, Issue 58, October – December 2011

For the first time, this year’s annual Primavera exhibition has broken free of the gallery, presenting curator Anna Davis with the chance to showcase young artists working in performance and public art, reports Jane O’Sullivan.

This year Primavera, the Museum of Contemporary Art’s young artist exhibition, is something of a homeless beast. The museum’s own gallery spaces were off limits because of the construction work for the new MCA wing. One option could have been to find a host gallery – as was the case with the MCA’s Tell me tell me exhibition earlier this year, staged at the National Art School – but curator Anna Davis thought there were more interesting avenues to explore.

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