Defining Moments: Australian Exhibition Histories 1968 – 1999

SFF Kaldor Public Art Projects - Wrapped CoastFifty years ago this year, eminent Australian art collector and patron John Kaldor invited French artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude to Australia to wrap two-and-a-half kilometres of coast at Sydney’s Little Bay.

Wrapped Coast – One million Square Feet 1968-69 was a monumental event in the history of contemporary art in Australia and a pivotal moment for the artists, who went on to mount several large-scale environmental projects at sites around the world.

For John Kaldor, it was the first major installation for Kaldor Public Art Projects. As his now internationally renowned art organisation celebrates its fiftieth anniversary and some 33 groundbreaking public art works across Australia, John Kaldor will discuss the monumental event that started it all in the first of a series of lectures exploring key moments in the history of Australian art and exhibitions.

Defining Moments: Australian Exhibition Histories 1968–1999 is a two-year series of lectures designed to shed light on markers of change in Australian art, and address key contemporary art exhibitions and projects from the last three decades of the 20th century.

The series traces the legacies of artists and curators, addresses the critical reception of selected significant projects, and reflects on a wide range of exhibitions and formats; from artist run initiatives to institutions, as well as interventions in public space and remote communities.

“Ambitious, contested, polemical, genre-defining and genre-defying, contemporary art exhibitions have shaped and transformed the cultural landscape, along with our understanding of what constitutes art itself,” said ACCA’s Artistic Director, Max Delany.

“Beginning with a in-depth discussion around Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Wrapped Coast – One Million Square Feet, the 2019 program will take us to a series of sites beyond the museum, with a focus on exhibitions and projects that took place outside of conventional institutional frameworks.”

Presented in association with Abercrombie & Kent and Research Partner, Centre of Visual Art (CoVA) at The University of Melbourne, the two-year series brings together a diversity of voices in hour-long lectures and conversations involving exhibiting artists, curators, critics and historians, with the first set of lectures scheduled from April to November 2019.

In 2019, the series will focus on the period 1968 to 1981, which saw a range of exceptional projects that transformed the production and reception of contemporary art in Australia. These include Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Wrapped Coast – One Million Square Feet at Little Bay, Sydney, in 1968-69; the Honey Ant Dreaming and other mural paintings at the school at Papunya in 1971; Sculpturescape ’75 – the Mildura Sculpture Triennial; and other experimental contexts engaging with sound, video, performance, conceptual and feminist art practices.

In 2020, the lecture series will explore new institutional models that emerged in the 1980s and ‘90s, with the development of periodic exhibitions such as the Biennale of Sydney, Perspecta and the Asia Pacific Triennial; the development of contemporary art spaces, Aboriginal art centres and artist-run initiatives; among other contemporary contexts and modes of exhibition-making.

The Defining Moments lecture series includes:

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Wrapped Coast 1968-69
Monday 15 April: Lecture by John Kaldor, with respondent Rebecca Coates

Digging for Honey Ants: the Papunya mural project
Monday 29 April: Lecture by John Kean, with respondent Hannah Presley

Object and Idea
Monday 3 June: Lecture by Ian Milliss

Inhibodress, multimedia interference 
Monday 8 July: Lecture by Peter Kennedy, with respondent Sue Cramer

Clifton Hill Community Music Centre 1976-83
Monday 5 August: Lecture by David Chesworth

Almost Anything Goes: Sculpturescape 1975 at Mildura
Monday 3 September: Lecture by Julie Ewington

A Room of their own: creating a space for the feminist collective 
Monday 7 October: Lecture by Janine Burke, with respondent Helen Hughes

Post Object Art in Australia and New Zealand
Monday 4 November: Lecture by Anne Marsh

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Wrapped Coast, One Million Square Feet, Little Bay, Sydney, Australia, 1968-69 – photo by Shunk-Kender © 1969 Christo