I've spent the weekend in Brisbane catching up with family. We also managed to squeeze in a visit to the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at the wonderful Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art. I was keen to catch the exhibition before it closes on 5 April. After several weeks immersing myself in the riches of our Western heritage, visiting an exhibition that focuses on the diversity of contemporary artistic production from our Asian and Pacific neighbours reminded me of just how different the current cultural position of Australia is from that of Europe.
A refreshingly joyful aspect of the exhibition is its emphasis on interactivity and its appeal to children. We had fun with two particular projects - one was an installation called 'In-flight' by Filipino /Australian artists Isabel and Alfredo Aquilzan:
It's a mountain of scraps of paper, fabric, slivers of wood, cardboard, yarn and string from which people are encouraged to construct planes of various kinds. Hanging from the ceiling and attached to the walls are planes already made by the artists and community groups. Though it is 'about' the process of migration and being between cultures, it's sheer fun to watch people of all ages assembling their materials and constructing their planes.
I also love another work that appealed to my deeply-held childhood passion for paper dolls. Pakistani artist Ayaz Jokhio created 99 self-portraits that you can dress in a myriad of garments - many of them mix and match elements of traditional costumes.
The main part of the exhibition was busy and very buzzy. People pored over details of the exhibits and installations and there was much exclamation and laughter. Some pieces were incorporated into the building, such as moving images of hands in the act of washing projected onto the basins in the washrooms, and the geometrically perfect canopy as you enter the exhibition that's constructed from innumerable loops of plain A4 paper connected with paper clips.
One of my favourite pieces has been used to publicise the exhibition - an installation of many small suited Chinese businessman figures clutching flag-like blooms. I imagine it must be a comment on the well-known injunction by Mao Zedong of 'Let a thousand flowers bloom' - such an appealing injunction with such disastrous outcomes.
If you can get to Brisbane before 5 April, do go to see this exhibition. Alternatively, you can wait three years for the seventh installment of this engaging round-up of the artistic production of our region. It felt as if I'd come home.