Digital Technologies, Mediated Futures

Still from Jennifer Deger, 'Christmas with Wawa' (2006)

Article released: Wednesday, 16 April, 2008

Jennifer Deger’s research project Digital Technologies, Mediated Futures: Envisioning Culture in Arnhem Land explores the practical, ethical and imaginative challenges of seeing the world from indigenous perspectives. By developing experimental media forms and practices with Yolngu collaborators, the project investigates the power of image and imagination at a particular – and crucial – moment in Yolngu cultural history.

Drawing on ethnographic insights and relationships developed over many years, Deger will work with Yolngu to use animation and other digital effects in ways that echo the aesthetic, social and political intensities of ritual. Focusing on the visual dynamics that infuse and enliven the production and reception of this video imagery, the project explores the ways that Yolngu actively use media to facilitate invisible presencings and sensuous mediations which work to link people and places in relationships that extend across time and space.

For Yolngu, this work offers urgently welcomed possibilities of innovation and cultural reproduction at a time of unprecedented social stress. For non-Yolngu, this work offers a unique possibility to encounter a culture that continues to insist on the power of vision in generating intercultural appreciation and respect.

Practical Aesthetics

Article released: Wednesday, 16 April, 2008

Jill Bennett’s ARC Discovery Project advances the concept of practical aesthetics to demonstrate how art is of direct benefit to both the academic and wider community, furnishing concrete techniques that enable us to apprehend and understand key social and political events. It engenders an exhibition, public symposia, a workshop with student/international participation, and a book/articles, presenting Australian art in an international framework. The project extends the discipline base of art history, promoting and facilitating the use of art in other disciplines and in debates on events relating to issues of national importance (including border control, Reconciliation, and environmental disaster).

Feminist Aesthetics Meets Indigenous Art

Rosie Napurrurla Tasman, Ngurlu (2007)

Article released: Wednesday, 18 July, 2007

This project, which is a collaboration between the CCAP’s Senior Research Fellow Dr Jennifer Biddle and A/Prof Robyn Ferrell of the University of Melbourne, sets out to investigate Indigenous communities’ use of art to depict their traditional Dreamings. The philosophy underlying these depictions is that art is the knowledge it portrays, which in turn evokes title to land through the law of Dreaming, of belonging to ‘country’. To better understand this negotiation advances debate on issues surrounding  Aboriginal reconciliation.

One of the outcomes of Dr Biddle’s research was the Lajamanu Women’s Painting Workshop/Residency, hosted by the CCAP and held at CoFA from 13-22 March 2007. The residency culminated in an exhibition of the womens’ paintings produced during the workshop, and their performance of Yawulyu (Women’s Dreaming Ceremony). The launch and performance were attended by over 300 people, including Marion Scrymgour, the Northern Territory’s Minister for the arts. These events also coincided with the launch of Dr Biddle’s new book, Breasts, Bodies, Canvas: Central Desert Art as Experience, published by UNSW Press. The book examines the rise of female Aboriginal artists, including Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Kathleen Petyarre, Dorothy Napangardi, Rosie Napurrurla Tasman and others, and the tactile and sensory activities involved in painting. Dr Biddle argues that the recent success of women painters points to a certain ‘feminisation’ of Country, Ancestor and Dreaming that makes this art literally enlivened and enlivening. By focussing on what this art ‘does’ rather than what it ‘means’, Breasts, Bodies, Canvas breaks with a generation of scholarship that has identified these works as traditional symbolic representations of country – instead, the works are understood as material forces of culture, sentiment and politics.

African Marketplace

Article released: Wednesday, 05 June, 2002

African Marketplace opened at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery in August 2002. Focusing on forms of visual culture that confound western distinctions between ‘high art’ and popular art and craft, African Marketplace traces a complex set of relationships between art and the market.

The exhibition included a range of images and objects that either have communal or mercantile origins, or respond in some way to the theme of the market: barbershop and medicine boards, originally made to order for proprietors of market stalls and shops, which have found their way onto the international art market; works by major African artists including Romuald Hazoume and Cyprien Tokoudagba, coffin-maker Kane Kwei, Freddy Ramabulana, William Kentridge, and Meschac Gaba, whose work featured in Documenta 11; beadwork, textiles and telephone-wire bowls, objects developed initially for local use that have increasingly evolved for both the tourist market and for Western art and design markets.

The African Marketplace catalogue features an essay by David McNeill, deputy director of the CCAP. As McNeill points out, the objects and images included in the exhibition embody processes of cultural exchange and globalisation, but they also reveal some of the ways in which market culture in Africa presents a vibrant alternative to the ‘ free market’ of western economic rationalism.


Tracey Moffatt (1997), Up in the Sky #9

Article released: Saturday, 05 February, 2005

The exhibition Prepossession opened at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery, UNSW, in March 2005 and travelled to Belfast in June of the same year. The exhibition, which explored conflict, place and trauma in South Africa, Northern Ireland and Indigenous Australia, was one of the outcomes of the CCAP’s Discovery Project, Ethical Globalism. Artists included in the show

were: Destiny Deacon, Tracey Moffatt and Darren Siwes (Australia); William Kentridge and Jo Ractliffe (South Africa); Willie Doherty and Frances Hegarty (Northern Ireland). Thecatalogue contains essays by Jill Bennett and Felicity Fenner, an interview with Doherty and Hegarty by Liam Kelly, and an essay by Professor Abigail Solomon-Godeau from the Department of the History of Art & Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Prepossession was curated by CCAP directors Jill Bennett and Felicity Fenner, along with Liam Kelly from the University of Ulster, and was funded by an ARC Discovery Grant and Arts Council of Northern Ireland – National Lottery.


Kendel Geers (1996), After Love

Article released: Friday, 05 August, 2005

The exhibition Disobedience was held at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery in September 2005. The works presented in Disobedience register issues of social justice and protest against the brutal excesses of economic globalisation, both locally and internationally. Artists involved in the show were: Beluchi Weavers (Afghanistan), Alexander Brener and Dmitry Vilensky (Russia), Kendell Geers (South Africa/Belgium), Michael Goldberg (South Africa/Australia), Shilpa Gupta (India), Ilaria Vanni (Italy/Australia), Suzann Victor (Singapore/Australia), Gordon Bennett, Phillip George, Raquel Ormella, Dean Sewell and Squatspace (Australia). The exhibition was opened by Will Saunders, one of the two activists who painted “NO WAR” on the Sydney Opera House, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq.

The Disobedience catalogue contains essays by both the curators, David McNeill and Zanny Begg, as well as by two leading researchers in the field of art and politics: Dr Ilaria Vanni (UTS) and Dr Anna Munster, a deputy director of the CCAP.

Disobedience was one of the outcomes of the CCAP’s Discovery Project, Ethical Globalism. It was scheduled to follow the 2005 Sydney Social Forum and the demonstrations against the Forbes Global CEO Conference at the Sydney Opera House.

The Resilient Landscape

Phillip George (2005), "Shahidi". The word 'martyr' is derived from μάρτυς (martys), the Greek word for witness - the image of the Shahidi bears witness

Article released: Wednesday, 06 December, 2006

Recent international events such as the IDF bombardment of Southern Lebanon – and more local ones such as the Cronulla riots – have underlined the urgent need for a more sophisticated understanding of the complex local histories of this fascinating region and of the peoples who live in it. For their project The Resilient Landscape, Phil George (Media Arts, CoFA, UNSW), David McNeill (Art History & Theory/CCAP, UNSW), Lynn Roberts-Goodwin (Media Arts, CoFA, UNSW) and Paul Tabar (Lebanese American University, Beirut) will embark on an investigation of the cultural and physical landscape of Southern Lebanon, with the aim of producing artwork that registers the impact of the attacks on this particular landscape, and a curatorial project and collection of theoretical essays that critically address the role of art exhibitions in the context of local political debates.

The Resilient Landscape seeks to counter the high level of cultural generalisation that often characterises the introduction of regional art into a global context. It will present a more complex range of contemporary responses to the southern Lebanese cultural landscape, in order to test the potency of art to perform as a catalyst to community discussion, exchange and understanding. Beginning from the premise that political struggle is now, more than ever, a struggle for control over images, the project will produce three interconnected outcomes. These are: an exhibition of media art representing and interpreting aspects of the history culture and landscape of Beirut and Southern Lebanon; a symposium of local and overseas speakers addressing (a) the general problem of Judaeo-Christian misunderstandings (and misrepresentations) of Islam and (b) the specific problems faced by Lebanese communities in Sydney in the current volatile environment; and an edited publication containing papers from the symposium and commissioned essays on the efficacy of art as an agent of communication between and across cultures.

The exhibition will serve as a rallying point for a colloquium in which local and invited overseas speakers will address issues of cultural understanding and community conflict resolution with a particular focus on the misrepresentation, by both politicians and the media, of Lebanese and other Islamic groups in the Sydney area.

Ethical Globalism

Kendel Geers (1996), After Love

Article released: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004

The aim of this project is to produce a new account of the relationship of art to politics, along with substantive studies of artwork and key exhibitions.

Ethical Globalism began in 2004, when Jill Bennett, David McNeill and Anthony Bond undertook research in Europe (UK/Netherlands/Germany), and participated in a workshop in Amsterdam, organised by Ernst Van Alphen.

Prepossession, the first exhibition that resulted from the project, opened in Sydney in March 2005, travelling to Belfast in June. This exhibition embodied the team’s research on affectivity in political art and on ‘transcultural resonance’. A second exhibition, Disobedience, opened in September 2005. Disobedience was directly focused on modes of political intervention, incorporating work from many areas, including Russia, South Africa, and South East Asia.

Bennett, McNeill and Bond also convened the 2005 conference Transforming Aesthetics, in connection with the Art Association of ANZ (NSW). A book on this research has now been solicited for the University of New England’s “Interfaces” series. Papers given by Bennett, McNeill and Bond at the AAANZ annual conference (Auckland, December 2004), along with those written by researchers for the Transforming Aesthetics conference, will form the basis of the book.

Dynamic Media

Anna Munster, Andrew Murphie and 10 others, screenshot from Assemblage for Collective Thought (VJing and networked remix project). Performed at International Symposium for Electronic Arts and ZeroOne, San Jose, USA, August 12 2006.

Article released: Wednesday, 01 February, 2006

Dynamic Media: Innovative Social and Artistic Development in New Media in Australia, Britain, Canada and Scandinavia since 1990 is an international, ARC funded project that provides information for Australians to more extensively implement dynamic media within a social context. A collaboration between Anna Munster (CoFA/CCAP), Andrew Murphie (Media, Film & Theatre, UNSW), Brian Massumi (University of Montreal) and Adrian MacKenzie (Lancaster University), the project focuses on the international strategies for social use of dynamic media, and will form the basis of an online database that will profile and be accessible to Australian artists, arts organisations, new media researchers and social innovators. This study highlights the innovation of Australian artists and researchers in the development of dynamic media and positions these internationally.

Construction, Connection, Community

Lindy Lee, Untitled (2001). Acrylic, ink, wax & photocopy on Stonehenge Paper on board (3 panels)

Article released: Monday, 13 March, 2006

Construction, Connection, Community: Measuring Asian Arts Contribution to Contemporary Culture in Australia is a Linkage project between CCAP, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Asia-Australia Arts Centre and Zendai Museum of Modern Art in Shanghai. The project is grounded in the conviction that visual art plays a key role in furthering cultural understanding and is an important site for the negotiation of inter-cultural relations and the construction of a ‘multicultural’ Australia. From this perspective, Asian and Asian-Australian art constitutes a major cultural resource. However, despite increasing public interest in Asian contemporary art, this resource remains under-utilized within our cultural institutions, and insufficiently integrated into the broader academic study of culture.

Construction, Connection, Community will consititute a major study of contemporary Asian and Asian-Australian art, demonstrating how visual art negotiates the way that spaces are constituted, transformed and inhabited under the impact of immigration/migration, displacement, and certain forms of conflict or upheaval. The project, which involves taking a new theoretical approach to the field of visual culture studies, will also result in a PhD in curating Asian art and multicultural programming.

Combining cutting edge visual theory and a very practical focus on the work of community galleries, this project will provide a textured analysis of aesthetic engagement with the themes of community, construction, and the transformation of place and society – one that is more sustained and consolidated than the form of existing anthologies, catalogues or survey texts allows.