COFA students writing about art, life and the universe

Category: Features (page 1 of 2)

Poli-ism: A New direction?

By Miriam Williamson


The position of the arts in the Australian political landscape has ebbed and flowed over time.

In early May this year the arts sector waited with anticipation for the launch of the National Cultural Policy, due to be launched the week of the 2012-13 budget, only to be disappointed it had become victim of the federal budget surplus.

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Child’s play

By Emily Sinclair

William Yang, 'Australia now' (2009), installation view, Contemporary Art for Contemporary Kids, 2010, Image courtesy of Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Photo: Emily Sinclair

Museums and galleries are turning to their youngest group of art lovers in an attempt to make education a top priority in their exhibition programs.

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City of big shoulders and even bigger artworks: The transformative power of public art in Chicago

By Natasha Mikitas

Anish Kapoor, Cloud Gate (2004, Stainless Steel) Photo credit: Natasha Mikitas.

A giant concrete skyline juts aggressively hundreds of meters into the sky; the overwhelming size of the buildings makes it hard to feel anything but inferior.  Opposite these massive structures are the icy waters of Lake Michigan, startlingly blue and unwelcomingly frozen over. Hundreds of people are congregated between the concrete monsters and the icy waters, but their attention is focused on neither. They walk slowly around a lone structure, touching its smooth surface and laughing as they walk below it, staring up entranced at their own reflections. They are impressed by the enormity and engrossed in the almost perfect mirror images on its surface. This is Cloud Gate (2004, Stainless steel), and it is (in my experience) the best thing I have ever seen in a public park. Continue reading

On the emergence of loss

By Peter Johnson

George Shaw, Tomorrow is Another Day (2011, video and Giclee prints)

Process Emergent 2 is a group show that I recently curated at At the Vanishing Point (ATVP), an artist-run initiative in Newtown. The works were selected from the end of year shows held by the major tertiary institutions in Sydney: the College of Fine Arts (University of New South Wales), Sydney College of the Arts (University of Sydney), and the National Art School.  Each of the six selected artists completed their degree with Honours in 2011 and, in my view, represent the best of their cohort – those artists who dedicated a year to producing not only a body of work, but to intense academic engagement with their practice.

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The (contemporary) art of war

By Christiane Keys-Statham

Khadim Ali, Haunted Lotus (2012. Watercolour, gouache and ink on wasli paper, each c.75 x 56 cm.)

You wouldn’t know it, but the contemporary art scene is alive and well in Kabul, Afghanistan.  Scratch the surface of media reports into the horrors of war, the poverty, gender inequality, suicide bombings, IEDs, tribal warlords and puppet governments, and you’ll find some thriving and diverse arts organisations and NGOs quietly plying their trades in the streets of Kabul. Continue reading

On the run

By Megan Monte

Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba Breathing is Free: 12,756.3 Canberra Christmas Island 90.8 (2011) Commissioned by Campbelltown Arts Centre & Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy the Artist

All over the world, people – children, elderly, men and women fleeing their homes, their families, their cultures, and their lives – become refugees within foreign countries that at times are hostile towards them, whilst their own country is in the midst of turmoil due to war or devastated by natural disaster.  People and entire communities have become displaced from their countries; choice is often out of their hands. The devastation of war and disaster has caused havoc on communities and individuals all around the world, a crisis that continues with no means to an end and with an unpredictable future for many countries. Continue reading

The shock of the old is still new

By Emily Sinclair

Wartime army tank and helicopter, War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, photo: Emily Sinclair (2011)

In a world in which society claims to be desensitised to images of violence and war, Emily Sinclair writes how one museum still manages to unsettle its audience.

It seems that in contemporary society, violence and innocent people killed by roadside bombs are a common occurrence in everyday life. It has become so frequent that it is difficult to watch the evening news without an update on some sort of bloodshed, be it domestic or international. Images of warfare are so readily accessible; it is no wonder we have become less impacted by confronting pictures and video footage in the media. The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is an exception in this case. It is an institution enveloped in grief, which, without trying, manages to pull at the heartstrings of the visiting public.

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Protecting cultural property in war

By Christiane Keys-Statham

The 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict was ratified by Australia on 19 September 1984.  This international treaty covers the protection during armed conflict of cultural property including museums, religious buildings and libraries, as well as privately owned cultural property. In this article, I will examine Australia’s responsibilities under this Convention, and contrast its position on the protection of cultural property during armed conflict with the measures taken to protect cultural property within Australia. Continue reading

A fragmented synthesis – William Kentridge: Five Themes

By Ben Messih

Figure 1: William Kentridge, portrait by Van der Merwe

I was first introduced to the work of South African artist William Kentridge in 2008 at the 16th Biennale of Sydney. Kentridge’s works, I am not me, the horse is not mine (2008; installation of eight film fragments, DVCAM, HDV transferred to video) and What will come (has already come) (2007; steel table, cylindrical steel mirror, 35mm animated film transferred to video) were exhibited in the beautifully derelict Cockatoo Island. These installations – amongst Kentridge’s most accomplished to date – had a profound impact on me: technically masterful, poignant, satirical and insightful. The language of Kentridge moved me as I had never been moved by a work of art before. Subsequently, four years after first falling in love with his political, poetic synthesis I found myself at Melbourne’s Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) to revisit his work in the acclaimed major traveling retrospective William Kentridge: Five Themes.

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Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial) and its omnipresent muse

By Lorraine Chung

The 12th Istanbul Biennale, Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), is an uncommon one, from the choice of title to the choice of muse.  The term ‘untitled’ may seem like a sign of absence; naming an artwork Untitled is usually the result of a conscious choice by the artist. Since the development of the Modernist movement, untitled artworks have played a huge part in the historical context of contemporary art. The title of this year’s Istanbul Biennale, Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011, ‘is not a mere tribute to the Modernist movement but is a specific reference to the artist Gonzalaz-Torres, in which he named most of his works ‘Untitled’ followed by a description in parentheses’. ‘By calling his works ‘Untitled’, Gonzalez-Torres suggested that a work’s meaning might shift through contexts and time; that there might not be only one interpretation of it. This inspired our strategy for titling the biennial,’ state the curators Jens Hoffmann and Adriano Pedrosa.[1]

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