Artspace Gallery’s new major exhibition is the first installation of three distinct yet interrelated exhibitions exploring various facets of the notion of the public body.
“The Public Body .01 deals very much with the contemporary moment and is particularly focussed around the naked and/or sexualised body and image production in the contemporary time,” co-curator Talia Linz told the City Hub.
Linz and co-curator Alexie Glass-Cantor spent over two years discussing the premise of the series and selecting works which best unearth the issues they were interested in raising. They soon decided to separate the collection into three related themes to be exhibited over three years, to allow them to explore the full breadth and depth.
“I think the artists and the work…have been selected particularly because they question the kind of bodies that are privileged in mainstream representation…to expose biases that have been normalised,” said Linz.
The current exhibition features a breadth of work from Australian and international, established and emerging artists and includes a variety of forms from video installations to ceramics and sculpture, to photography and mixed media tapestries.
While pinpointing standout works from the exhibition was to Talia like “picking her favourite child”, she was able to tease out a few.
One of the central pieces is a 59-minute video work by artists A.K. Burns and A.L. Steiner about reimagining what sex can be and representing non-normative bodies.
“They tap into a lineage of experimental queer film, and it’s a work about inclusiveness and generosity and expansive view about what sex is, they call it a socio-sexual document,” said Linz. “…It’s a work that hasn’t been seen before in Sydney so we’re really proud to be presenting it.”
With this collection rooted firmly in the contemporary, an exploration of the role of social media in the representation of the body and the self is essential. Enter artist Amalia Ulman’s four-month durational performance work, in which she questioned “the tropes of how women represent themselves online” by concocting a false persona on Instagram which garnered 90,000 loyal followers.
In the curation of The Public Body .01 Linz and Glass-Cantor also sought to “change the way that people think about bodies and feel in their body in the space”. A floor work of photographs with a slippery surface prompts audiences to slow down and be deliberate in their walking pace.
In 2017 The Public Body .02 will take a transhistorial look over the last 70 years of practice, which influenced The Public Body .01, with particular focus on feminist, queer or anti-racist positioning. The third exhibition in 2018 will be an opportunity for Artspace to connect with its own history and own archive as it explores its own identity as a type of public body. (AM)
Until Oct 23 (Mon-Fri 11am-5pm, Sat-Sun 11am-6pm). Artspace, 43-51 Cowper Wharf Road, Wolloomooloo. Free. Info: www.artspace.org.au