Primavera - 2006
Published Sunday, 27 August 2006This September, the Museum of Contemporary Art celebrates fifteen years of its popular Primavera series, the annual exhibition that has developed a reputation for uncovering new talent in the visual arts field.
Thirteen artists aged 35 or under will showcase their work in Primavera 2006: Exhibition by Young Australian Artists - the largest group selected in the history Primavera. The artists are Benjamin Armstrong (VIC), Fergus Binns (VIC), Christian de Vietri (WA), Julia deVille (VIC), Matthew Griffin (VIC), David Griggs (NSW), Chayni Henry (NT), Wilkins Hill (QLD), Katherine Huang (VIC), Rob McHaffie (VIC), Peter McKay (SA), Koji Ryui (NSW) and Simon Yates (NSW).
Guest curator Aaron Seeto chose not to develop an overarching theme for Primavera 2006 allowing the focus to fall upon the diverse processes of the artists. Mr Seeto is former curator of Gallery 4A, Asia-Australia Arts Centre in Sydney and is himself a practicing artist. Primavera 2006 seeks to understand the work of these young artists within the context of their whole practice.
Rather than showing single statement works, the exhibition consists primarily of smaller series of works by each artist, emphasising conceptual development as well as strong studio-based practices,” explained Mr Seeto. Reflecting the group aspect of Primavera, there are no single artist rooms in the exhibition, making it possible to catch glimpses of a number of different works from multiple viewpoints. This encourages visitors to find unusual juxtapositions and dialogues between the works that they may not have noticed at first glance.
The exhibition includes Peter McKay’s glittering photographic interventions which appear as galaxies but are actually glitter on oil-stained tarmac, Simon Yates’ quirky low-tech contraptions highlighting the fallacy of technology and the digital age and the creations of expert taxidermist and jeweller Julia de Ville.
The Primavera series was inaugurated in 1991 by Dr Edward and Mrs Cynthia Jackson in memory of their talented daughter Belinda. It has since come to play an integral role in the development of Australia’s young artists by bringing their work to the attention of a broader public.
Statements by the artists
Benjamin Armstrong: My studio is a refuge for everything. How the studio is organized and functions forms one of the keys to my work. It provides a domain for the interaction and exchanges between the different mediums I use. It is the place the drawings feed off or provide nourishment to the sculptures or prints. My work tends to benefit from a slow gestation period - it takes time to see things - for thoughts to swell up. I enjoy this process.
Chayni Henry: Darwin and the Northern Territory is the source of all my inspiration. I have been here for 18 years now and all the major events in my life (bar my birth) have all occurred here. There are a lot of clichés about life here – some of which are true, most are simply exaggerated. Through my work whether it be through portraits of people or sculptures of local wildlife I hope to covey both subtly and literally what life is and was like in Darwin (from my point of view of course) during my lifetime.
Christian de Vietri: The elements of Six Degrees of Separation (crowd control barriers and red carpet) are hallmarks of wealth and privilege and also a denotation of celebrity. These are the mechanisms of separation that create the physical divide between the VIP and the P, the celebrities and the anonymous masses who crowd around them. Only here, the objects of separation have themselves become subject to their own status gradiation, separated into varying degrees of wealth and stature, becoming the animated elements of a scene in suspended performance. The irony of fame that is presented here is that as the status of a celebrity increases there is an increasing need for separation between the celebrity and the rest of the population.
Fergus Binns: Tourism Australia helps provide an agenda for my work which, with close enough attention, one can extract a story that can be translated into a life-form some might consider as painting, some still life, others as artefact. Regardless of how it is considered, it is a product of popular culture; our time and place. These souvenirs and mine, on offer to visitors and locals can browse, capture the impressions of Australia’s 40,000-year history.
David Griggs: Just another day staying alive.
Julia deVille: My jewellery is inspired by the Memento Mori jewellery of the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries and Victorian Mourning jewellery. I find the acceptance of death in these periods fascinating. I work predominately in jet, a petrified wood historically used in Victorian Mourning jewellery and taxidermy, designed to serve as a Memento Mori, or reminder of our mortality. I use the symbols of death through out my work because I think it is important to identify with the concept that, we are in fact mortal creatures. Through taxidermy I challenge my audience to reassess the way our society views the use of animals for art and fashion. I use only creatures that have died of natural causes to accentuate this point.
Katherine Huang: I guess it is about finding resemblances for what exists only in perception (thereby, inner) of experiences. Found objects and motifs become the passage to indicate rooms, in such a way that small cues from the world are given significance by looking and thinking, and become stand-ins for furniture in these rooms. So it follows that gardens and light are added to the composition, for the rooms must have an exterior life.
Koji Ryui: I like to use a wide range of mainly unexpected, cheap, toxic or recycled materials. I like toxicity juxtaposed against charming appearances. Artificial materials that form organic-like structures allow me to introduce some form of narrative into the work. It reminds me of artificial intelligence.
Matthew Griffin: Hip Hop is one of the things that informs my work. I am more interested in how music exists as ideas for other things. As a fan, I explore the stories that go along with the music, what makes people do it and what aligns certain groups with certain types of music... One of the themes that I keep thinking about is the idea of disappointment. I think about how music has a real effect on people’s lives, it is something that people understand, enjoy and find a lot of meaning in. I realise that art struggles to have this same effect…
Peter McKay: I see art as an uncommon opportunity to engage with people on a meaningful level, it’s my way of trying to make the world a better place to live in. We have an abundance of communication in our present era, but so much of this communication is meaningless and unnecessary. All these empty and excessive demands for our attention dull our perceptions. I believe art can be helpful to people by showing them something fantastic about the world that would otherwise go unnoticed in a wash of media reports, advertising and polite conversation. In this way art is like caffeine for humanity, waking us up to the remarkable brilliance of it all.
Rob McHaffie: A collection of imagery - personal, researched and collected - will form the basis for a group of paintings that will explore masculinity through celebrity status symbols. My interest is not so much in pop culture, but the role-playing of various well known people, who on the surface are everything we dream of but often struggle in their personal lives. As personifications of our own appearances and inner lives I find this territory very interesting. I enjoy playing with photos and using various juxtapositions and unlikely relationships to flesh out a character, or visual poem. I hope that my work stimulates different readings, feelings and meaning.
Hill: ... the difficulty we have is with saying something in words which we have already articulated
Wilkins: As inevitable as it is to some extent, we are careful not to undermine or influence the audience’s inner narrative with things that are superfluous to the work.
Simon Yates: Video cameras, pens and pencils, paintbrushes, telephones, fax machines, photocopiers, tape-recorders, are all examples of technologies that people use to describe things with, and communicate with. My inventions are an attempt to create new technologies to describe things with, and in this way they attempt to intercept the process of description and representation. Television is characteristic of representational technologies. It dismantles an image, turning it into a one dimensional stream of information, then adds another dimension (time) to reassemble the information as a twodimensional image. Similarly, my inventions are about different ways of dismantling and reassembling information.
Primavera 2006: Exhibition by Young Australian Artists 13 September – 19 November 2006 Admission: free