This year is the International Year of Light. I didn’t know that when I committed to a solo show in July, with the theme Lucent. And now there are a number of major shows turning up with the same theme! Amazing how that happens!
The Big Guns – exhibitions that will pack a punch in 2015 from pop legends to light legends to the latest from Iceland to Asia.
1. David Bowie comes to Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne
Exclusive to Australasia, ACMI has the coup of the year in landing the exhibition David Bowie is, touring from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum as part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series. The exhibition has broken attendance records worldwide. It is hardly surprising given that it draws together original stage set designs, handwritten lyric sheets, album artwork, rare film, video and photographs, not to mention over 50 costumes that defined Bowie’s career, including his legendary Ziggy Stardust bodysuits (1972) designed by Freddie Burretti and Union Jack coat designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen for the Earthling album cover (1997). ‘The mystery of David Bowie as an enigma is so lovingly explored in this incredible immersive exhibition you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped inside the mind of this astonishing cultural and pop icon,’ said ACMI Director and CEO Tony Sweeney.
David Bowie is: 16 July – 1 November (Ticketed)
2. Light Show and Luminous at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney
Australia has come to love light festivals such as VIVID and White Night. This year audiences will have a rare opportunity to put those creative illuminations into context. The Hayward Gallery’s (UK) record-breaking exhibition Light Show comes to the MCA appropriately during this year of light. Starting with the 1960s, Light Show features 20 atmospheric installations and intangible sculptures that use the phenomenal aspects of light to shape and give weight to space. Including luminaries such as Jim Campbell, Bill Culbert, Olafur Eliasson, Dan Flavin, Iván Navarro, James Turrell, and Doug Wheeler among others, this imported blockbuster has been given an Australian inflection by MCA Senior Curator Natasha Bullock, who has coupled its international dialogue with a collection curated show, Luminous. Its highlights include a major new commission by Jonathan Jones, and key works by Peter Kennedy, Sandra Selig and William Seeto.
Luminous: 9 March – 8 June
Light Show: 16 April – 5 July (Ticketed)
3. Asia Pacific Triennial 8 at Queensland Art Gallery I Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
Of the 160 biennials staged globally, the Asia Pacific Triennial is the only one to focus on the contemporary art of Asia, Australia and the Pacific. Its eighth edition will push its ever-widening regional charter to include for the first time artists from Mongolia, Nepal and Solomon Islands, as well as Australia’s first major display of Indian indigenous art and a contemporary performance project developed with Kanak artist Nicolas Molé and 15 Melanesian performers. QAGOMA Director, Chris Saines said: ‘The exhibition will have an emphasis on performance, with live actions, video and kinetic art, as well as figurative painting and sculpture. Many of the artists included explore how the human form is used to express cultural, social and political ideas at a time of enormous change.’ Often contentious, always probing, APT8 will be a discerner for 2015. Check QAGOMA for the first release included artists – which this year will total 75.
APT8: 21 November 2015 – 10 April 2016
4. Ragnar Kjartansson for 2015 Perth International Arts Festival, Perth
In his Australian debut, Icelandic artist and musician Ragnar Kjartansson will present his epic five-channel music and video installation The End – Rocky Mountains at the Freemantle Art Centre as part of the 2015 Perth International Arts Festival. At the John Curtin Gallery Kjartansson’s earlier film The Visitors (2012) captures a durational performance across nine screens, will complete this expose into one of the most interesting video artists of our times. Known for exploring the boundaries between reality and fiction, cultural history and identity, Kjartansson video works are visually lush, aurally laced with sentimentality while dosed with scepticism.
Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors: 12 February – 2 April
Ragnar Kjartansson: The End – Rocky Mountains: 14 February – 5 April
5. Qianlong Emperor at National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Hidden treasures from Beijing’s Palace Museum in the Forbidden City make their way to Melbourne this year in an Australian exclusive. The NGV will devote 1,100 square meters to ceremonial weapons, silk court robes, palace treasures and silk paintings and calligraphy for the exhibition The Golden Age of China: Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736–1795), one of China’s most successful rulers and ardent art collectors.
The Golden Age of China: Qianlong Emperor: 27 March – 21 June (Ticketed)
6. Ryoji Ikeda at Carriageworks, Sydney
Japanese audio-visual artist Ryoji Ikeda returns to Carriageworks after the success of his phenomenal light installation Test Pattern in 2013. This September Australian audiences will premier his latest work, Superposition, an immersive digital and live performance that fuses real-time content feed with digital sound sculptures and synchronised video screens in a disorientating and mesmorising take on quantum theory.
Ryoji Ikeda: Superposition: 23-26 September (Ticketed)
7. Trent Parke at Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Seven years in the making, this immersive exhibition by Adelaide-based photographer Trent Parke promises to be exhaustive and emotionally charged. The Black Rose collates several hundred photographs with moving image, animations, handmade books and Parke’s writings. Parke is the first Australian to be a full member of the exclusive Magnum Photo Agency. This exhibition – exclusive to AGSA – is part of the 2015 Adelaide Festival of Arts and follows Parke’s celebrated inclusion in last year’s Adelaide Biennale, Dark Heart.
Trent Parke: The Black Rose: 14 March – 10 May
8. Ronnie Tjampitjinpa at Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
As a founding artist of the Papunya Tula Artists – and one of the youngest to begin painting at Papunya – Pintupi artist Ronnie Tjampitjinpa holds an important place in Australian art history. This exhibition salutes that place tracking his 40-year career painting the Tingari ancestors and their travels over vast areas of the Western Desert region.
Ronnie Tjampitjinpa: 4 April – 1 November
9. The Birth of the Cool at Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra
Curated by Terence Maloon, this exhibition surveys the impact of four painters over the decade 1963-1973: David Aspden, Sydney Ball, Michael Johnson and Dick Watson. As Maloon states: ‘With the benefit of hindsight, it can be reappraised as a golden era of Australian art, with a brilliant generation emerging in full confidence of its powers, determined to excel at the highest level – not just locally, but in a global context.’ All four were key in the iconic Australian exhibition The Field held in Melbourne and Sydney in 1968 – hard-edge, colour-field abstraction their common idiom. This exhibition reconsiders that history and their legacy. Presented by the Drill Hall Gallery in collaboration with Samstag Museum of Art.
The Birth of the Cool: 6 November – 13 December
10. Fiona Hall at Venice Biennale
And while technically not in Australia, a highlight wrap for 2015 could not pass without the inclusion of Fiona Hall’s much anticipated installation for the 56th Venice Biennale and inaugural exhibition in Denton Corker Marshall architects new Australian Pavilion. Curated by Linda Michael, Deputy Director and Senior Curator at Melbourne’s Heide Museum of Modern Art, Hall’s has said her Venice exhibition will deal with ‘the political state of the world and how it emotively impacts on the lives of all of us, and also parallel to that the environmental state of the world.’
Fiona Hall: 56th Venice Biennale: 9 May – 22 November
Beyond the Blockbuster
“Next tier” exhibitions that stand their ground as strong punctuations in the 2015’s art calendar:
Shaun Gladwell at Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation and UNSW Galleries, Sydney
Presented across two venues, and including a major new commission, Shaun Gladwell returns to what SCAF Executive Director Gene Sherman describes as, ‘his roots – to the spaces where he started his career in Sydney over 15 years ago.’ A new site-specific and atmospheric installation, The Lacrima Chair (SCAF Project 24), engages the poetics of flight and cultural transmission through video and sculpture. And curated by Barbara Polla (Geneva-based) and Paul Ardenne (Paris-based), Collection+: Shaun Gladwell (SCAF Project 25) will be presented in association with, and across all three exhibition spaces of the recently launched UNSW Galleries, and will feature over 20 works spanning Gladwell’s career and practice.
The Lacrima Chair and Collection+ Shaun Gladwell: 6 March – 25 April
David Lynch at QAGOMA, Brisbane
In an Australian first, and Brisbane exclusive, cinema legend David Lynch’s work is presented in a 50-year retrospective at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). Lynch first trained as a painter and has maintained a studio practice – this exhibition presenting works from the mid 1960s through to an important presentation of Lynch’s photographs of factories and nudes, and recent large-scale paintings – of course complement with a complete retrospective of his film and television work. Lynch will be in Brisbane for the exhibitions opening program.
David Lynch: Between Two Worlds: 14 March – 7 June
Mariko Mori at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
Tokyo-Born, New York and London-based, Mariko Mori’s work has become synonymous with reflexive works that explore how technologies and philosophies shape our identities. Rebirth is no exception, celebrating the balances between nature, self and a wider cosmos through LED sculptures, photographs, drawings and videos offering an immersive and contemplative experience for viewers.
Mariko Mori: Rebirth: 8 February – 29 June
Opening Artist Performance: Saturday, 7 February (ticketed)
Haines and Hinterding at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney
Based in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, this is the first comprehensive survey of the work of David Haines and Joyce Hinterding. Curated by Anna Davis, it explores their interests in energetic forces and the environment and will include a major new commission.
Energies: Haines and Hinterding: 26 June – 6 September
Bill Viola at Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Presented across three venues, Bill Viola’s Selected Works is a selection of the Adelaide Festival and is the most comprehensive of Viola’s work to be presented in Australia.
Bill Viola: Selected Works: 27 February – 29 March
Xavier Le Roy presented by Kaldor Public Art Projects at Carriageworks, Sydney
In an Australian Premier, French artist Xavier Le Roy comes to Sydney’s Carriageworks under invitation as the 31st Kaldor Public Art Project to present his complete work Self Unfinished. Exploring the relationship between spectators and performers, a highlight of this piece was presented at 13 Rooms in 2013.
Xavier Le Roy: Self Unfinished: 17 – 19 November
Cross Pose: Body Language in Australian Indigenous Art at UQ Art Museum, Brisbane
This exhibition considers how Australian Indigenous artists have drawn on body language as a form of cross-cultural communication – a theme that ‘invokes the realm of body politics that first arose through second-wave feminism in the 1970s and evolved as racial body politics during the following decade’. Curated by Sally Butler selected artists include Gordon Bennett, Michael Cook, Debbie Coombes, Destiny Deacon, Christopher Pease, Darren Siwes, among others.
Cross Pose: Body Language in Australian Indigenous Art: 16 May – 9 August
do it (Adelaide) at Samstag, Adelaide
do it (Adelaide) will be the latest incarnation of the ongoing global art project conceived by super-curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and managed by the Independent Curators International (ICI), New York
do it (Adelaide): 13 February – 25 April
The Photograph and Australia at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
This is the largest exhibition of Australian photography held since 1988 that borrows from collections nationwide and looks at the history of the medium.
The Photograph and Australia: 21 March – 8 June
Aleks Danko at Museum of contemporary Art Australia, Sydney
Guest curated by Glenn Barkley and in association with Heide Museum of Modern Art, this exhibition spans four decades of Aleks Danko’s career – from the late 1960s to recent large scale installations. ‘Objects that take language – its sound, speech, rhymes, puns and repetition – and attempt to make it into something more concrete – and akin to poetry, designed to be read aloud, vocalized and performed’ – MCA.
Aleks Danko: My Fellow Aus-tra-aliens: 30 July – 18 October
Transmission at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
This exhibition curated from the NGV Collection takes a timely look at the legacy the television age has left us. Moving from “the box” of the 1960s to the consideration of television as a global communicator, mediator, distributor and filter of news and culture – this exhibition explores the impact of technology on contemporary art through various mediums. Including work by Nam June Paik, Anish Kapoor, Ian burns, Richard Hamilton and Tracey Moffatt among others.
Transmissions: Legacies of the Television Age: 15 May – 23 August
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gina Fairley covers the Visual Arts nationally for ArtsHub. Based in Sydney you can follow her on Twitter @ginafairley.