The National 2017: New Australian Art has been unveiled at three of Sydney’s premier cultural institutions, namely Art Gallery of New Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA). This exhibition is the first in a six-year partnership that will continue biennially until 2021, presenting the latest ideas and forms in contemporary Australian art - connecting three of Sydney’s key cultural museums. The first exhibition, The National: New Australian Art is the only large-scale, multi-venue exhibition in the country focused solely on contemporary Australian art.
Presented concurrently at the three institutions, The National 2017 features work by emerging, mid-career and established Australian artists, showcasing new and commissioned work and encompassing a diverse range of mediums including painting, video, sculpture, installation, drawing and performance. The exhibition aims to offer a holistic view of Australian art at a point in time, and to foster dialogue between generations of artists. The work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists features prominently across all exhibition venues.
The exhibition, The National 2017 is curated by curators from all three institutions, namely Anneke Jaspers and Wayne Tunnicliffe (from AGNSW); Lisa Havilah and Nina Miall (from Carriageworks); and Blair French (from MCA). The curators focused on the delivery of the exhibition within their institutions of course, but also worked together developing ideas and research, thereby producing a single exhibition that unfolds across the three sites with key points of connection and dialogue.
At the Art Gallery of NSW, exhibiting artists explore the forces of social change. Their works aim to open up new conversations with history and politics, looking at feminism, colonialism and our relations with the natural environment. From the vivid feminist intervention of Emily Floyd’s large scale sculpture, to the scarred beauty of the landscape in Taloi Havini’s mesmerising video and Helen Johnson’s paintings that unsettle Australia’s colonial history, the works gathered at AGNSW for The National 2017 look to the past in an endeavour to make sense of the present.
At Carriageworks, artists explore the hybrid Australian identity offering different perspectives on how identification is shaped by questions of experience, knowledge, history and power. Works present a strong performative element, including senior Kimberley regions lawman Alan Griffiths’ performance of the Bali Bali Balga with 15 indigenous dancers; an ambitious new commission by Justene Williams featuring a sculptural installation and live performance synthesising dance, costume, live music, electronic sound and vocals; and a major site-specific sculptural installation by Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran.
At the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, artists are drawn from every Australian state and territory, with their works considering recurrent subject matters, materials or the processes of art making. Here you can encounter Khadim Ali’s 15-metre mural evoking migrant experiences of exclusion, isolation and waiting; the beautiful repetition of materials and forms in Rose Nolan’s monumental banner; and 32 metal-cast objects accompanied with a homemade furnace by Matthew Bradley. There is no one connecting theme at the MCA, although common elements – art that considers the actions of power, conflict that shapes the present, and an individual’s relationship to society – connect the works on display.
The National 2017 is supported by a dedicated website (www.the-national.com.au) offering a significant resource for users around the world on contemporary Australian art.
During the opening week of The National 2017, be captivated by a three-day program of talks, performances and events across all three venues (see here). Take an in-depth look at contemporary Australian art: meet and hear from the exhibition’s artists and curators; encounter live performances, electronic sound and vocals at Carriageworks; enter Jess Johnson and Simon Ward’s homage to post-apocalyptic films and DIY culture at MCA’s ARTBAR, and enjoy a special presentation by Yolngu artists Gunybi Ganambarr and Yinimala Gumana at AGNSW. The National 2017 public programs continue throughout the coming months with artist talks, performances and workshops on offer alongside family and children’s activities and a wide variety of access programs.
The website will further provide curator commentary on every exhibiting artists’ work via both audio file and Auslan video and house short documentary films on 13 artists and their projects.
The exhibition is also accompanied by a richly illustrated publication, available for purchase at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Carriageworks and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, and online at the AGNSW and MCA websites.
Art Gallery of NSW
Art Gallery Road, The Domain
30 March – 16 July 2017
Keg de Souza
Alex Martinis Roe
245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh
30 March – 25 June 2017
Chris Bond & Wes Thorne
Atlanta Eke & Ghenoa Gela
Jess Johnson & Simon Ward
Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran
140 George Street, The Rocks
30 March – 18 June 2017
Ronnie van Hout
Featured Image: Claudia Nicholson, All I Have Are Dreams of You, installation view, The National 2017: New Australian Art, Carriageworks. Photograph: Zan Wimberley