A group of voices accompanies me in the exhibition. They are singing words I cannot comprehend, yet the warm tunes are familiar: folk songs, love songs, songs of longing. There are letters, too. They speak of the quotidian details of a soldier's life: the hardness of the war, sending money to the family, and longing for familiar landscapes, food,...
There has been a flurry of triennial and biennial art activity in Japan this year. The Aichi Triennale opened in Nagoya this August, sparking a national debate about the shutting down of a display of formerly censored works—the result of public backlash against a burnt image of Emperor Hirohito and a statue commemorating the women forced into...
Mark Bradford walks through Mark Bradford: Los Angeles Mark Bradford: Los Angeles at the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai (27 July–13 October 2019) is the artist's largest solo exhibition to date in China. In this video for Ocula, Bradford and Diana Nawi, curator of the show, walk through selected works that convey the artist's concerns with...
"No artist tolerates reality." Friedrich Nietzsche
Contemporary Recalcitrants is a group exhibition that examines the practices of four contemporary Australian artists - Christopher Hanrahan, Anthony Johnson, Elizabeth Pulie and Tony Schwensen - as modes of resistance. Originally invited to participate in the exhibition under categories of resistance that loosely define their practices - formalism, the found object, feminism, and anti-feudalism, respectively - each artist very aptly resisted this very categorisation, expanding the function of resistance within their practice, and the exhibition, to observe its role in response to a broader range of economic, political and institutional systems.
As its title suggests, the exhibition contemplates the concerns for artists working contemporaneously, and surveys the ways in which their respective practices act uncooperatively, most specfically within the context of a late-capitalist, globalised world. Speculating on a post-capitalist future, the exhibition becomes a site for artists to imagine the potential and significance of their practices post- contemporaneously, and, in addition to producing new works for the exhibition, Hanrahan, Johnson, Pulie, and Schwensen have been invited to devise alternative methods of exchange for the acquisition of their work. As such, none of the works in this exhibition are for sale. Instead, the means by which any single work may be acquired have been authored by the artists in direct relation to their works, and philosophical and conceptual positions more broadly. Trading in this alternative manner begs the question: what, if not money, do we have at our disposal?
Resistance is deployed uniquely within each artist's practice, however all works included in the exhibition are similarly conceptual and ephemeral, manifesting as letters, videos, poems, and evolving and unfinished installations, which both utilise and demand time. The exhibition, thus, requires active participation. Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue of interviews conducted with each artist, which illustrates the tangents and complexities of their thinking. Incidentally, ideas, as both a means of production and engagement, are foregrounded in the exhibition, posing what is perhaps the greatest of all resistance, and representative of the only true freedom that still exits.
By its very nature, resistance simultaneously addresses the problems of subjugation, and the need for greater emancipation. More importantly, it anticipates improved alternatives and possible futures. Whereas modernism may be understood broadly and retrospectively as a period of successive reactions and premature accelerations in favour of progress, contemporary art is far more synonymous with resistance; tasked with reflecting on the past, while comprehending a seemingly inescapable present, and attempting to construct the future. Being uncooperative with current time (a most basic translation of 'Contemporary Recalcitrants'), is a defining and inherent characteristic of artistic practice; an essential mechanism in the ever-present impositions of an unfree world.
Curated by James Gatt
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