Notes from Brisbane

Four months have passed now since the APT 2002 concluded here at the Queensland Art Gallery. As a follow-up and as a result of their commissioned work for APT 2002 as the Pasifika Divas, this lusty collective of Fa’afafine performers from Aotearoa New Zealand recently presented ‘DIVA SIVA’ at the House of World Cultures in Berlin.

I have recently been appointed Manager of the Australian Centre of Asia-Pacific Art (ACAPA) which the Gallery established last year. The initial ventures included the publishing of the APT 2002 catalogue and the presentation of keynote lectures during the APT 2002 opening events by Professor Wu Hung, Dr Nikos Papastergiadis, Professor Ngahuia Te Awekotuku and Professor Kim Hong-hee. We are currently working towards the publishing of these and other papers commissioned as part of APT 2002 including those by Alexandra Munroe on Kusama, Aotearoa New Zealand TV producer Lisa Taouma on the Pasifika Divas, and APT 3 artist Lee Mingwei on his own practice.

ACAPA is co-currently publishing a new monograph on the work of Sydney-based artist Ah Xian to coincide with a major solo show the Gallery is presenting in late 2003. The show will feature his full figure cloisonné piece, 'Human human - lotus', 2000-01, which was recently acquired by the Gallery, as well as a selection of sculptural works in lacquer, porcelain and jade. The book will feature a recent interview with the artist, novelist Linda Jaivin and myself, as well as two further essays.

The impetus for ACAPA is driven by the work undertaken over the past decade by the Gallery in the areas of exhibitions, conferences, research and publications in the field of art from Asia and the Pacific. Future projects include symposia, lectures, screenings, collaborative endeavours, further publications, and a program of residencies in Brisbane for artists, curators and scholars.

At QAG, the momentum is fast building at the moment towards our next major exhibition, 'Story Place: Indigenous Art of Cape York and the Rainforest' which opens on July 25. The show explores the intrinsic links between art works, ceremony, dance and belief unique to the Indigenous people of the Cape York region in the far north of Queensland. Sculptures from Aurukun, rainforest shields, fibre objects, works on paper, and contemporary paintings from artists of the Lockhart River region such as Rosella Namok are included. This is the first time an exhibition has devoted itself in depth to the art of this region, and the opening weekend will see more than 50 elders and over 20 participating artists here at the Gallery for a series of performances, discussions and ceremony.

Curatorial shifts at the Gallery have included the input of two esteemed curators of Indigenous art - Djon Mundine has been working as a consultant, while Diane Moon recently joined the team in the area of Indigenous fibre. Our inaugural Head of Cinema, Kathryn Weir, has also been appointed in preparation for the forthcoming Cinémathèque - an integral part of the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. QGoMA, the Gallery’s second building, is scheduled to open its doors just a few hundred metres upstream from the present QAG building in late 2005.

In terms of the local Brisbane scene – there is currently a first-time survey show, ‘Luo Brothers: World Famous Brand Name’ at the new Queensland College of Art Gallery. In June, Indonesian curators Asikin Hasan and Ardiyanto and participating artist, Krisna Murti will be here in Brisbane speaking about their exhibition ‘Transit - 8 views of Indonesia’ at the Institute of Modern Art. Recently, we have had visits from Mumbai-based artists Jitish Kallat and Reena Siani Kallat, NY-based Tracey Moffatt (who is making a new photographic work here in her old hometown), and filmmaker Kumar Shahani who was here as part of a series of screenings across the country.

Meanwhile, the Gallery’s Asian and Pacific Art Department, led by Suhanya Raffel, is moving towards a series of exhibitions, commissions and acquisitions in preparation for QGoMA with APT5 in long-range view. A new emphasis, generated by Maud Page, our new Pacific Curator, is a series of collaborations and commissions with artists from the Pacific such as Maori 'graff' carver Prins’s collaboration with Brisbane design team, Rinzen.

The Gallery's current exhibition for children, 'Colour', includes acquisitions not previously seen such as Lee Bul's, set of three porcelain 'Untitled (Cyborg Hands)' and Mysore-based artist N.S. Harsha's triptych, 'We come, we eat and we sleep', 1999-2001. Other major new acquisitions include Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba's video piece commissioned for the Yokohama Triennial, 'Memorial Project Nha Trang, Vietnam, towards the complex - for the courageous, the curious, and the cowards', 2001, and Wang Qingsong's, 'Night revels of Lao Li', 2000.

Additionally, a number of works were acquired as a result of APT 2002 such as Heri Dono’s ‘Glass vehicles’, 1995, and Yayoi Kusama’s infinity/mirror room ‘Soul under the moon’ which the artist created for the exhibition. Also, the Gallery received three important works as generous gifts from key artists in the exhibition - ‘Narcissus garden’, an installation by Yayoi Kusama; the outdoor sculpture ‘Relatum’ by Lee U-fan; and his painting from 2001, ‘Correspondance’.




Sun, 1 Jun 2003

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