Continuing Samstag Museum of Art’s long history of successful collaborations with the Adelaide Festival, the Adelaide//International is a new series of exhibitions featuring prominent contemporary artists from Australia and overseas, opening Friday 1 March 2019.
The 2019 edition of the Adelaide//International will present four artists – Brook Andrew and Eugenia Lim, both from Australia, Lisa Reihana (New Zealand) and Ming Wong (Singapore) – in four distinct exhibitions that thoughtfully touch upon issues of historical and contemporary migration, cultural exchange, and the impact of stereotyping upon identity.
Brook Andrew: Room B
Australian interdisciplinary artist Brook Andrew creates multilayered artworks that question the dominance of Western colonial narratives, deliberately locating Australia and Indigenous cultures at the centre of a global inquisition. Drawing inspiration from archival and vernacular objects, Andrew works with different communities — as well as public and private collections around the world — to reveal alternative histories that are hidden beneath the legacies of colonialism.
For the Adelaide//International, Andrew presents the premiere of Room B – an installation drawn from a body of work shown at the Musée d’ethnographie de Genève in 2017 – 2018, and encompassing his video SMASH IT, created whilst the artist was a 2017 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington.
Within this immersive installation, the artist links different histories and peoples previously divided by the trope of ‘primitivism’ and the powerful gaze of the European colonial machine. In this way, Room B provides viewers new ways to see the world through reinterpreting history and reframing inherited experience.
Eugenia Lim: The Ambassador
In this three-part project, Lim takes on a Mao-like persona who sits halfway between truth and fantasy, dressed in a gold lamé suit. Throughout each of her works, Lim’s ‘ambassador’ takes on new roles in uncovering the Australian-Asian narrative, drilling down into racial politics, the social costs of manufacturing, and the role of architecture in shaping society.
In The People’s Currency performance that forms a crucial part of her exhibition, Lim will invite the public to enter into ‘short-term employment’ as shift workers in a special economic zone, with visitors participating in and evaluating the impacts of global capitalism, labour markets and what it means to be a global consumer.
Lisa Reihana: in Pursuit of Venus (infected)
Aotearoa New Zealand-born and Auckland-based (Ngapuhi, Ngati Hine, Ngai Tu), Lisa Reihana is a multidisciplinary Maori artist whose practice examines the way history is represented. The subjects of Reihana’s portraits inhabit a reinterpreted world which is at once both familiar yet different, and where past, present and future are mutable.
In 2017, Reihana represented Aotearoa New Zealand in the Venice Biennale with the panoramic video in Pursuit of Venus [infected], a moving image interpretation of Les Sauvages De La Mer Pacifique (1804), a sophisticated French twenty-panel scenic wallpaper depicting the Pacific voyages undertaken by Captain Cook, de Bougainville and de la Perouse.
Reihana’s reading of this history is darker and more nuanced, making narratives visible which were previously absent. Amongst the images of South Seas idylls portrayed in the original wallpaper, the imperial gaze is turned back on itself by including cultural practices and first-contact narratives to reveal sexual exploitation and gender fluidity.
in Pursuit of Venus [infected] at the Samstag Museum of Art coincides with the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s voyage to the South Pacific and Australia to observe the transit of Venus from the island of Tahiti on 3 June, 1769.
Ming Wong: In Love for the Mood
Singaporean artist Ming Wong works through the visual styles and tropes of iconic films and performances. Through reinterpretation of world cinema classics – where the artist deliberately miscasts himself and others, often playing multiple roles in a foreign language – Wong explores gender, representation, culture and identity, considering the means through which motion pictures construct subjectivity and geographic location.
Commissioned for the Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009, In Love for the Mood is a restaging of Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-wai’s iconic film In the Mood for Love (2000). Wong substitutes a Caucasian actress for the roles of both Chow Mo-wan and Su Li-zhen, a man and woman whose respective spouses are cheating on them.
The actress in Wong’s production is not a native speaker of Cantonese, and recites the lines with difficulty – bordering on exasperation at times – even though the artist prompts her off-screen. In a performance about identity, Wong’s deliberate miscasting of the female lead elevates the film’s exploration of the frailty of the human heart to a universal condition encountered by all, regardless of race or language.
“This quartet of work by four brilliant, inspired artists reanimates Samstag’s engagement with ambitious contemporary art at the international cutting edge, and is not to be missed,” said Erica Green, Director Samstag Museum of Art.
Samstag Museum of Art, Corner Fenn Place and North Terrace, Adelaide
Exhibition: 1 March – 5 April 2019
For more information, visit: www.unisa.edu.au for details.
Image: Brook Andrew, Habitat II (installation view: The Boomerang Effect, Musée d’ethnographie de Genève), 2017, Red gum timber, Sapele timber, glass, steel and glue. 214 x 140 x 140 cm – photo by Joel Fuchs. Courtesy the artist.