Exploring a world oversaturated with information and misinformation, where artists are turning to more direct modes of communication to expose and reclaim the cultural and political power of words, Boroondara Arts presents Do I have to spell it out for you? online from the Town Hall Gallery, Hawthorn from 5 September 2020.
Bringing together a group of eight artists incorporating language and text into their work, Do I have to spell it out for you? highlights the complexities of language to create community, define identity and tell stories.
The combined works reveal the potency of language as a means of resistance, cultural artefact, humour, and tool of sovereignty through puns, song lyrics, spoken word and personal musings.
The exhibition features artists Benjamin Aitken, Chun Yin Rainbow Chan, Kate Just, Nasim Nasr, Claudia Nicholson, Kenny Pittock, Dr Christian Thompson AO and Shevaun Wright. All eight artists showcased in Do I have to spell it out for you? use innovative artforms and expressions to expose and reclaim the cultural and political power of words.
Benjamin Aitken’s multi-disciplinary practice includes painting, video, installation, text, photography, personal narratives, humour and art politics. Across these mediums Aitken references personal narratives, humour, art politics, historical events and his childhood. Aitken will be creating a new work for this exhibition.
Chun Yin Rainbow Chan is a vocalist, producer and innovative multidisciplinary artist driven by a DIY spirit. Chan melds catchy melodies and off-kilter beats made up of field-recordings and found sounds.
Kate Just works across sculpture, installation, neon, textiles and photography to produce contemporary art works with feminist themes but is best known for her inventive and political use of knitting. Just often works socially and collaboratively within communities to create large scale, public art projects that tackle significant social issues including sexual harassment and violence against women.
Nasim Nasr utilises multi-channel video, photography, performance, installation, 3D objects and sound highlighting contemporary notions of interchangeable identities and cultural difference, as experienced between her past and present cultures and homelands since relocating from Australia to Iran.
Claudia Nicholson is an interdisciplinary artist based who examines psychic and physical connections to place through multidisciplinary forms of art making including painting, installation, performance and video. Their practice addresses the diasporic position, specifically in the Asia Pacific region, and in addition, connects with the varied experiences of the Australian Latinx* community.
Christian Thompson’s work explores notions of identity, cultural hybridity and history. Formally trained as a sculptor, Thompson’s multidisciplinary practice engages mediums such as photography, video, sculpture, performance and sound. Christian will be exhibiting his work Berceuse (2017), performing a gesture of a re-imagining his traditional language Bidjara, a language now categorised as extinct.
The work is premised on a notion, that if one word of Bidjara is spoken, in this case, in the form of song, it is a living language echoed powerfully in the gallery context. Combining evocative chanting and electronic elements, Thompson invokes the cultural experiences and narrative of his Bidjara culture.
Shevaun Wright is an artist and lawyer who is primarily engaged in an interdisciplinary practice that utilises the contractual medium and the notion of the ‘social contract’, as well as re-contextualised dialogues as a tool for engaging in institutional legal and artistic critique. Informed by her Aboriginal heritage, she aims to extrapolate feminist and postcolonial critiques of the law and art as a means to access and reveal similarities in their discursive practices.
Kenny Pittock works primarily with ceramic sculpture and painting. He combines words, play and wordplay, along with just a dash of anxiety, to respond to contemporary Australian iconography and culture. For this exhibition Pittock will be creating a new mural inside and outside the gallery. He will also produce a children’s activity sheet to accompany the exhibition.
“For this exhibition I will be presenting a small series of ceramic ice-creams, some in the state of melting,” says Pittock. The work responds to issues around climate, while also referencing how in 2020 so much of our time and plans also melted away.”
“I’ll also be painting a mural in the Hawthorn Arts Centre called ‘Trying to leaf things better than we found them’ – an optimistic exploration of personal growth.”
The Town Hall Gallery is currently closed to the public in line with restrictions across metropolitan Melbourne die to the CVID-19 pandemic. Do I have to spell it out for you? is available to view online from 5 September – 25 October 2020. For more information , visit: www.boroondara.vic.gov.au for details.
Image: Nasim Nasr, The Home, 2017 (detail), laser cut digital print on white cotton rag, 100 x 80cm – courtesy of the artist
Note: * Latinx is a gender-neutral neologism, sometimes used instead of Latino or Latina to refer to people of Latin American cultural or ethnic identity in the United States.The (-x) suffix replaces the standard (-o/-a) ending of nouns and adjectives that are typical of grammatical gender in Spanish