Monday, March 22, 2010

Our part of the world

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.

paper dolls

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.

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.

flowers bloom

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.


Sel and Poivre said...

My husband has been trying to get me to visit Australia for years - its sooooo far away and I don't like to fly so I've always resisted but your posts on these wonderful exhibitions and festivals has me rethinking my stubborn point of view!

That table piled with bits and pieces is fantastic!

Unknown said...

What a great way to come home! Your grand-daughter looks SO intense and beautiful. Yesterday I went to a lecture on Japanese fashion at the Textile Museum in Washington by Anne Marie Moeller. Clothes by Yohji Yamamoto (Nuno), Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo (Comme de Garcons) were on display. Yes, I wore a Kathleen Berney top!

Anonymous said...

i love hands on art like that, what a contrast to the places you have just been! the paper dolls reminded me how much i loved these when i was a kid too, the dressing and redressing using fold down tabs. fantastic!

Rose Red said...

I love the interactive pieces, especially the paper dolls (also a childhood favourite of mine). Love that the dotee seemed to really enjoy it too.

M-H said...

I was a paper doll devotee too. I used to keep the dolls in shoeboxes, with their clothes, many of which I had designed myself. I don't think thy are such a big thing with little girls these days.

Lynne said...

What a fabulous exhibition. Now I think I want to go to Brisbane instead of Canberra! What a choice!

I, too, loved paper dolls. My first ones came from a Golden Book: "Mike and Melissa Paper Dolls". I was not able to buy it twenty years ago for my DD so it seems they have gone out of fashion! :-(

Unknown said...

Who knew Brisbane had so much culture?

Lyn knew. That's who.

Probably Jane said...

What a wonderful exhibition! I always try and visit a few galleries and exhibitions when I visit Australia as I find the approach so fresh and open minded and celebratory.

Can't believe I'm flying next Tuesday - have I packed? Of course not!