DISCUSSION :: Can’t Touch This
Saturday September 2, 1pm-3pm
Join us for a wide ranging and lively discussion about materiality and meaning with exhibition artists Carla Adams, Troy-Anthony Baylis, Christine Dean, Chantal Fraser, Kate Just, Claudia Nicholson, alongside MCA Curator of Indigenous Art, Clothilde Bullen.
Feminist academic Rosika Parker in her seminal text The Subversive Stitch (1984) cited the needle as having the potential to become the new ‘pen’, a tool for subversively re-presenting the familiar and gendered medium of embroidery to propose alternate discourses of power. This idea was at the genesis of this exhibition, unpacking this late twentieth century Feminist reflection on the subversive potential of textiles, and querying why – despite all that has changed in the 33 years since Parker wrote that seminal text – embroidery and indeed many other forms of textile production still hold potency as a subversive medium, particularly when presented within the conceptual space of visual art.
What is it that artists are now seeking to use the medium to speak about? How do our ingrained societal assumptions about textiles become the fodder for today’s political and socially motivated artists? How, or why, has the medium indeed re-emerged with a vengeance in the past five-ten years, as a ‘pen’ for considering all nature of contemporary concerns: land rights, the legacies of colonisation, the destruction of the environment, late capitalism, gender identity and equali
ty, the contested space of online relations, language and the shape of feminisms in the 21st century?
THE SPEAKERS :: Can’t Touch This
Clothilde Bullen is a Wardandi (Nyoongar) Aboriginal woman with English/French heritage. She commenced as Curator of Indigenous Art at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth in January 2005, after previously managing a commercial Indigenous art gallery and remained there for over a decade until moving to Sydney earlier this year to take up the position of Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Exhibitions and Collections at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Clothilde has curated a number of shows independently including Darkness on the Edge of Town in 2016 at Artbank, Sydney, and When the Sky Fell: Legacies of the 1967 Referendum at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art in 2017. Clothilde has written for a number of contemporary arts publications including Sturgeon and Artlink, as well as published and contributed pieces to a range of catalogues, including in the recent Defying Empire catalogue from the National Gallery, _Being Tiwi _ from the MCA, the Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards catalogue and Raised by Wolves for PIAF. Clothilde was on the Inaugural Advisory Committee for the Wesfarmers and NGA Indigenous Arts Leadership Program and is an Alumni member of the British Council Accelerate Scholarship for Indigenous Leadership in the Arts.
Carla Adams (b.1984, Perth) is an early career West Australian artist working with paint and textiles. Adams aligns her work with feminist sculptural and textile practices to consider the personal and political in women’s navigation of contemporary digital dating platforms. “My practice is concerned with personal and intimate internet encounters rather than mass attended online spaces.”
Adams received first class honours from Curtin University in 2014, and has exhibited at across Australia, including presenting work for ARTBAR at The Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney) and in the 2013 Hatched national graduate exhibition at PICA. Adams teaches as a sessional academic at Curtin University and is director of Smart Casual gallery.
Troy-Anthony Baylis is a descendant of the Jawoyn people from Katherine in the Northern Territory, and in his artistic practice, Baylis is interested in “reigniting, reinvigorating and reimagining Queer Aboriginal knowledge against conventional ways in which colonisation has denied, repressed and muted non-heterosexual ways of being, knowing and doing Aboriginality.” Repetition and time, particularly in the act of creating large scale knitted sculptures and installations, are a key component of the Baylis practice. Baylis (draw, repetition) also draws on the gendered and domestic associations of the medium, as well as its rich feminist history as a subversive tool for the articulation of oppression and marginalisation. “This historical standpoint”, Baylis explains, “is lip-synched to articulate my own research interests…I take cue from a history of feminist knitting to explore queer and Aboriginal perspectives and the shared pursuits of activism, community, love, and care.”
An artist, curator and writer, Baylis is a PhD Candidate at the University of South Australia. He has exhibited widely across Australia and internationally, and is currently also the Curator & Manager, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in Adelaide.
Christine Dean is an artist, teacher and writer who started exhibiting in 1988. Dean has “used fabric and textiles for their gendered symbolism for many years”, and is most known for her work since the 1990s that formed the basis of her PhD titled ‘The Pink Monochrome Project’ at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales in 2010. For Dean, the pink monochrome remains a visual and conceptual challenge to the masculine dominated history of Minimalism and binary perceptions of gender. Dean currently teaches Art History and Theory at the National Art School and Design Theory at UTS. As a writer she has focussed on Australian art of the 1960s, and has also pursued an interest in the impact gender theory on contemporary developments in LGBT art. Dean has exhibited in New York, and her work has been included in numerous exhibitions in Australia including at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Art Gallery of NSW and University of Queensland Art Gallery. In 2000 she was awarded a Pollock Krasner Fellowship and in 2001 the Australia Council Los Angeles Studio.
Chantal Fraser is a New Zealand born, Brisbane artist who investigates adornment as an aesthetic and conceptual tool in her critically engaged unpacking of social constructions of cultural associations and cultural appropriation. Fraser’s adornments take the form of sculptural installations and performance works that re-contextualise and destabilise the meanings associated with found, inherited and gifted materials.
A graduate of Fine Arts (Honours) from Queensland University of Technology Fraser has exhibited nationally at various institutions such as QUT Art Museum, University of Queensland Art Museum and Brisbane City Hall (now Museum of Brisbane). Fraser has also been included in exhibitions internationally at institutions such as La Cité Internationale (I capital letter) des Arts, Paris, Les Brassieres in Belgium and Tjibaou Cultural Centre, New Caledonia.
Kate Just is an American-born Australian visual artist. Since 2002, Just has created an expansive body of visual art work in a diversity of media including knitting, resin, clay, collage and photo-media. Central to her practice is the exploration of feminist representations of the body. Just’s use of knitting across many works casts craft as a highly engaging sculptural medium, a poetic or political tool. Just has also produced a number of socially engaged projects and public works about urban community, female representation and violence against women.
Just holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Sculpture) from Monash University, a Master of Arts from RMIT and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting) from the Victorian College of the Arts where she has been a Lecturer in Art since 2005. Just has exhibited in over a hundred solo and group exhibitions across Australia, including most recently as part of The Public Body at Artspace, Sydney. Internationally Just has presented work in group and solo projects in The united States of America, Finland, Austria, China, Japan, India New Zealand and The Netherlands. Just has been the recipient of numerous grants and prizes. She has been awarded funding for new work by the City of Melbourne, Arts Victoria and the Australia Council for the Arts. For her studio led PhD project, Just was the 2014 recipient of the Mollie Holman Doctoral Medal. Just was the winner of the 2007 Siemens Travel Award, the 2012 British Council Realise Your Dream Award, the 2013 Rupert Bunny Visual Arts Fellowship and the 2015 Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Award.
Claudia Nicholson born Bogota, Colombia, lives and works in Sydney. Claudia is a multidisciplinary artist working across ceramics, installation, video, performance and painting.
Her work explores issues around multiple identities, belonging and separation from homeland informed by her personal history as a Colombian-born Australian artist, adopted and raised in Sydney. Through her work she looks for the potential to connect to her heritage by incorporating established modes of artisanal practices from Central and South America and cultural representations found in popular culture. Recently she has been making alfombras de aserrín, sawdust carpets made in various Central and South American countries, whose Spanish heritage speaks to the idea of complex points of origin, and whose ephemerality links to the unfixed nature of identity that the artist explores.
Recent exhibitions include The National, Carriageworks, Sydney, 2017; The John Fries Award, UNSW Galleries Sydney, Me Time, Canberra Contemporary Art Space, 2017; Women Of Fairfield, C3West in partnership with PYT, STARRTS and MCA, Sydney, 2016; PASSING/ PARADES, Success Gallery, Fremantle, 2016; and The Decline of Western Civilization, Blackart Projects, Melbourne, 2016.
Claudia was the recipient of the Freedman Foundation Travelling Art Scholarship in 2015 and in 2014 she undertook the 4A Centre For Contemporary Asian Art Beijing studio residency with Shen Shaomin, and was the 2016 Winner of the sculpture category, Fishers Ghost Award, Campbelltown Arts Centre. Claudia is currently an artist in residence at Carriageworks Clothing Store and a finalist for the NSW Emerging Artist Fellowship.