platform_1: southern | other
Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre
Gymea, Sydney NSW Australia
23 August – 6 October 2014
South3_1 features 12 artists, drawn from 3 countries across the 3 southern ‘continents’: Oceania, Africa and Latin America. 8 artists are from Australia, with 2 each from Mexico and South Africa, encompassing painting, works on paper, installation, video and photomedia. The focus of this first exhibition is on early- to mid-career urban artists who are exploring aspects of cultural identity and alterity, their place in an increasingly globalized artworld, and the attributes and experience they may have in common. This is envisaged as the first of a 3-exhibition cycle. Future editions in the South3 series will follow a similar format, and include many other Australian artists of diverse ethnicity, alongside work from Portuguese and Hispanic America; West, East and North Africa; Polynesia, Melanesia and South Asia.
The existence of a ‘Global South’ is an emerging, and arguably under-explored, theme in contemporary art discourse, which is particularly relevant to Australian art practice in an international context.
The southern continents share many attributes, including a history of European colonisation – we have for centuries been the frontier lands and ‘New Worlds’ of the Northern imagination. In the 21st century, the old Northern world view is being eclipsed by the powerhouse cultures and economies of Asia, but less noted are the vigorous creative currents emerging from Latin America, Oceania and Africa. ‘South’ is much more than a geographical descriptor. There are psychic, cultural and economic ‘Souths’ too.
The exhibition includes many artists whose work interrogates the problematic nexus between contemporary art practice and socio-political-economic issues. The North, with its cultural certainties and established institutions, has perhaps already had these conversations, but in a postcolonial world, many Southern practitioners are deeply engaged with an interrogation of media tropes and cultural representations, including their own place in societies which are undergoing rapid change. We might describe it as ‘Southern Otherness’.
The exhibition will be a lively visual conversation between diverse explorations of what it is to be Australian, African or Latin American artist in the 21st century. Participating artists have been asked to respond to the exhibition theme with work that resonates in new and exciting ways. Collaborations between artists will be facilitated where possible.
Most selected artists work with a variety of media, and there is an emphasis on installation as opposed to more traditional genres. This whole-gallery show is envisaged as a series of ‘rooms’ or zones, installed to encourage the discovery of resonances between artists and works, and will include video and audio. In addition a screening program in the gallery theatrette will be in integral part of the exhibition, showing a one-hour program of works by participating artists at fixed times during the day. The extensive gallery gardens will also be used to mount larger-scale and site-specific works, with particular appeal to families and children.
These artists all push the boundaries of art practice, yet make accessible and engaging works. Many of their works are figurative, and if not are deeply engaged with the human condition. Viewers will leave with many questions, but also knowing something about the other ‘Souths’ on our planet.