OCCURRENT AFFAIR opens at the National Art School

NAS-Gordon-Hookey-Terraist-gloves-Jennifer-Herd-Still-War-photos-by-Carl-WarnerOCCURRENT AFFAIR – a major exhibition of new and recent works by Meanjin/Brisbane-based Aboriginal artist collective proppaNOW, featuring the practices of Vernon Ah Kee, Tony Albert, Richard Bell, Megan Cope, Jennifer Herd, Gordon Hookey and the late Laurie Nilsen, has opened at the National Art School (NAS) in Sydney.

Referencing the sensational journalistic style of certain television current affair programs, OCCURRENT AFFAIR embraces the slippage between language and its associated readings to probe and present new narratives.

The exhibition highlights and reflects on the ongoing state of affairs affecting Aboriginal communities – issues relevant to all Australians.

Conceived as a collaborative activist gesture, OCCURRENT AFFAIR addresses current socio-political, economic and environmental issues, while celebrating the strength, resilience and continuity of Aboriginal culture.

Issues surrounding the artworks extend to pertinent and recurring ‘affairs’ for Aboriginal and non-Indigenous Australians, including the climate crisis, collectivism, healthcare, justice, truth-telling and healing.

After opening in 2021 at The University of Queensland Art Museum in Brisbane, OCCURRENT AFFAIR is touring nationally with Museums & Galleries of NSW from 2023-2025, including public programs and engagement opportunities extending into the community through partnerships with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander cultural centres or keeping places, and community groups.

The exhibition provides opportunities to speak to ideas and concerns particular to Country wherever it is presented, strengthening existing relationships and fostering new ones.

“It’s an honour to present this important exhibition with such a powerful vision of Australian contemporary art,” said NAS Director and CEO Steven Alderton. “It comes at a crucial time to critique the influence of media around First Nations issues in Australia, the response to truth-telling, who is allowed to speak and how social media impacts critical and civil debate.”

Established in 2003 in Brisbane, proppaNOW is one of Australia’s leading cultural collectives, exploring the politics of Aboriginal art and culture, and provoking, subverting and re-thinking what it means to be a ‘contemporary Aboriginal artist’.

proppaNOW is a thesis, a language and an idea – a collective space for critical dialogue, intergenerational membership and artistic practice. In 2022 proppaNOW was awarded the Jane Lombard Prize for Art and Social Justice in the US.

This exhibition from The University of Queensland Art Museum touring with Museums & Galleries of NSW has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, and the Australian Government’s Visions of Australia program.

National Art School (NAS), corner Forbes and Burton Streets, Darlinghurst (Sydney)
Exhibition continues to 5 August 2023
Free entry

For more information, visit: www.nas.edu.au for details.

Image: Gordon Hookey, Terraist gloves, 2008, mixed media – photo by Carl Warner | Jennifer Herd, Still War, 2021, screen print on paper, pinholes – photo by Carl Warner