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Art & Architecture
Art Almanac

Art Almanac September 2016

Art Almanac is a monthly briefing on national art news, reviews and exhibitions. Since 1974, Art Almanac has proudly published the most comprehensive gallery exhibition listings in the country. The magazine features extended exhibition reviews and a national roundup of current shows as well as a dynamic and comprehensive online offering.

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11 Issues

In this issue

1 min.
from the editor

Why is memory important? The loss of personal narratives as we age is devastating, but a tight grip on social and historical remembrance isn’t as universally valued. This month we reflect on artists who look back to turn this around. We spotlight a few ‘retro active’ practices that sample from and remix the past including Melbourne-based Thai painter Bundit Puangthong and Indigenous artists Jonathan Jones and Karla Dickens. In Goulburn, ‘Speaking Colours’ echoes the value of Aboriginal languages to contemporary identity. Luke Letourneau looks at Yoshua Okón’s cognisance of how history and performance intersect. Emerging writer Melissa Nikols discusses the unconscious in the work of five Canberra artists on view at M16 Artspace. Australians participating in the Gwangju and Yinchuan biennales present art that ‘says something’ about collective memory and…

1 min.
on the cover karla dickens

Work Horse II (2015) by Karla Dickens is an enigmatic meditation on trauma and the beauty of strength. The Wiradjuri artist is known for poetic assemblages that voice personal and shared experiences of dispossession, misogyny, sex and mental health. Her material choices of a horse harness, wooden spikes and forged steel refer to a history of Indigenous girls being used for round-the-clock labour on stock farms. Karla protests that value lies in obedience or gender. National Art School Until 15 October, 2016 Sydney Photograph: Peter Morgan Courtesy the artist and Andrew Baker Art Dealer, Brisbane…

5 min.
in focus

Jones’ vision is broad, spanning language, history, culture and community. Central to this is a major installation that maps the footprint of Sydney’s 19th century Garden Palace, which held a vast collection of Aboriginal objects, all lost with the building to fire in 1882. He talks with the Project’s curator Emma Pike about inspiration, elders, and the importance of creating a canvass for new beginnings. How has the story of the Garden Palace inspired the project? When I first went looking for cultural material from where my family is from I found that it, like a lot of other material from south-east communities, was destroyed in the Garden Palace fire of 1882. Ever since I’ve been struck with a certain loss. What does that loss mean for our communities? I’m interested in how…

2 min.
art news

This is the question Artistic Director, Maria Lind and Curator, Binna Choi ask. They have chosen Australian artists Nicholas Mangan and Dale Harding to exhibit in the 11th Gwangju Biennale focusing on artworks with ‘agency’ in an effort to side step so-called esoteric practices the curatorial team believes miss an opportunity to ‘say something’ about the world today. In the past Harding has repurposed objects, like hessian sacks and weapons, to memorialise the history of his family and the unfair treatment they were subject to. In his formative years the artist participated in the Brisbane collective ProppaNOW, a group known for their mixed-media approach critical of colonial dispossession and the continued inequity experienced by Aboriginal people. Mangan’s video work Limits to Growth: A Numismatic study of dead and dying currencies will…

2 min.
yoshua okón octopus

A Home Depot parking lot in Los Angeles is the sole set piece for a re-enactment of the Guatemalan Civil War, 1960-1996. The actors, who appear to be gathering for day labour, are the combatants who fought in that very conflict. The subversive film titled ‘Octopus’, 2011, is presented as a multi-channel video installation by Mexico City-born artist Yoshua Okón, who has been daring us to see the cruel power imbalances that privileges authorities for more than two decades. Sydney audiences can view the work in the context of Okón’s broader practice in a show curated by Ivan Muñiz Reed of The Curators’ Department at Ideas Platform hosted by Artspace. In ‘Octopus’, everything is staged, but truth and fiction are not separate. Throughout his practice Okón has invited people to re-perform roles…

3 min.
bundit puangthong: reliving

For 16 years artist Bundit Puangthong has developed a unique art practice that fuses his training in both traditional Thai art and study of contemporary Western-based aesthetics, balancing between two cultures. Puangthong’s paintings explore, in depth, the cultural differences experienced since his arrival in Australia in 2000. Utilising a range of techniques from stencils to detailed, academic brushwork and an evocative colour palette, Puangthong creates texturally layered paintings that highlight his interest in American pop and Australian street art. Captivated by Melbourne’s creative ambience, its feast of colour, ideas and energy generated from public spaces, cross-cultural similarities became apparent. Puangthong reminisces, “When I came to Melbourne and saw all the street art everywhere it reminded me of the stencil work in the temples in Thailand.” Incorporating this approach with a modern…