Collective Depths

Ancient Futures is the theme of Primavera, an annual event at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Now in its 26th year, the renowned event offers the work of eight young artists (35 and under), who have been tasked with contemplating one of the biggest questions around: the meaning of existence, related specifically to archival practices or collecting. How does the vast amount of data now available change the way we think about the human condition? What are its historical equivalents? And what happens if this information is erased, whether accidentally or deliberately? The latter point is especially fascinating, and certainly has ongoing political and cultural significance. These intimate, existential questions build upon emotive undertones that are already associated with the programme. The family of Belinda Jackson, a jeweller who died in 1990 at just 29, set it up in 1992, and it continues in her memory. Her mother, Cynthia Jackson, has described previous contributors – now numbering over 200 – as a vast, artistic “second family.”

Curator Sophia Koujoumdjian does the show justice, offering a wealth of knowledge of the country’s art scene. With over 15 years of experience she is passionate about supporting the whole process, from the studio to the final show, and, further to recognising young talent, the chosen participants represent an evenly split gender balance, which, whether deliberate or not, should be commended.

All eight have exhibited widely and are embedded in cultural networks, whether as studio artists, curators, or academics. Due to this multiplicity of attested visions, a range of styles and genres are on offer: Jacobus Capone, Nicole Foreshew and Laura Hindmarsh – fundamentally interdisciplinary artists – use performance, photography, video, painting and site-specifics to explore themes relating to memory, personal history and  place. Meanwhile, drawing and print come to the fore in the work of Elena Papanikolakis and Teelah George, whilst Tom Polo explores painted environments and Adam John Cullen works with sculpture and installation. Kynan Tan takes audiences into the digitalised realm, utilising three dimensional simulations that cross borders into technological perceptions and identities.

Primavera 2017Museum of Contemporary Art Australia: 23 August – 19 November. Find out more:

1. Kynan Tan, Polymorphism (still), 2016, single-channel video, colour, sound, image courtesy and © the artist.