Reviews/Visual Art

Nurturing passion, hatching fire

13 May 2021

The 24 graduate artists showcased in this year’s “Hatched” exhibition have created a powerful and pensive testimonial to their generation, writes Patrick Gunasekera.

Hatched: National Graduate Show 2021, Various Artists ·
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts ·

Arts graduates from across Australia have created a powerful and pensive testimonial to their generation in PICA’s 30th “Hatched: National Graduate Show”.

An annual event, the 2021 iteration of “Hatched” has been developed by PICA Hatched Curatorial Fellow Miranda Johnson, and features the work of 24 emerging artists, selected by a panel that includes arts industry representatives Clare Armitage (NT), Dean Cross (NSW), Patrice Sharkey (SA) and Sarah Wall (WA).

Johnson and the panel have skilfully negotiated a meeting point of urgency and intimacy across the exhibition’s highly distinctive works.

Angled three-dimensional shapes decorated in pink and purple florals stand in the corner of the gallery. On the walls are painted geometric shapes in similar colours.
Testing the masculine expectations of minimalist sculpture: Renee Kire, ‘She Sought Solace in the Field’, 2020. Photo: courtesy the artist.

Though varied, many works have an effect of slowly revealing tender contemplations within a seemingly abstract idea.

These include She sought solace in the field, Renee Kire (QLD), which tests the masculine expectations of minimalist sculpture by inserting pink and purple floral textiles into an otherwise plain white wooden frame. In her audio-visual works, Victorian artist Michella Nudelman’s profound musings about change also require a generosity from the viewer to interpret her figurative audio-visual representations of wave-particle behaviour.

This ask, that the viewer slowly and thoughtfully unpack the work’s message, is also implicit in Grace Ware’s (VIC) jovial explorations of queer ecology – appropriating plastic chains, PVC tube frames and water filled disposable gloves to softly represent BDSM aesthetics of tension, suspension and play.

There are two video screens. In one, Alexa Malizon poses with her hands on her knees, looking at the camera with a comical expression on her face, in the other she is laughing but we can't see her body because two visitors to the gallery block our view. Two more visitors stand in front of the first screen. There is text on both screens that appears to say "Mag Otso Otso" but it is blocked both by the viewers and by Malizon's feet.
Third culture kids woes: Alexa Malizon, ‘Mag Otso Otso’ from ‘Diversitea Talks’, 2020, installation view at PICA. Photo by Rebecca Mansell.

Alexa Malizon (ACT) also uses performance in her two video works, which together make a humorous and powerful reflection on third culture kid woes. She reclaims these typically sexualised and tokenised experiences in a clever disruption of Filipino karaoke and dance music videos.

The exhibition’s most immediately impactful works reckon with personal and political exchange.

Local Nyoongar artist Bradley Kickett’s installation work Boundary Road is an active and effective institutional critique. Situating his distinct landscape paintings, destroyed by gunfire, alongside a haunting reconstruction of Perth’s colonial regulations on First Nations people, Kickett disrupts the demands of cultural whitewashing in the arts with vulnerability and precision. It’s a commendable risk, demonstrating a brave and determined voice.

Bradley Kickett with his work ‘River Painting’, a commendable risk, demonstrating a brave and determined voice. Photo: Rebecca Mansell

Ceramicist Yul Scarf (NSW), winner of the Schenberg Art Fellowship 2021, presents a mixed media constellation of works that process and bear witness to the instability and violence of colonialism. Working with tools and motifs of the colony, such as old bricks and property marks, Scarf digs into the raw and actively hidden history of clay in Gadigal land through a tender and dedicated process. Scarf’s interconnected approach – which includes film footage of Black Lives Matter rallies, and QR codes to writing that has informed their practice – summons both grief and unity.

Michael Giusanga Tuhanuku (VIC) also presents a sensitive and effective work in Taku Tangatupu’a (My Story), safeguarding culturally established forms of tapa barkcloth and hip hop spoken word through a photocopied and lip-synced presentation that is the work’s final form. Tuhanuku’s reflections of life and trauma in his island home Mungiki, Solomon Islands, use a perceptive absence of presence to quietly accentuate yearning and grief. Expressing a desire to seek answers alongside an insight that his healing is not for the gallery to consume, Tuhanuku’s voice is simultaneously candid and concealed, fortifying his message about the systemic barriers to reclaiming Polynesian culture.

Though exceedingly varied in form and voice, what draws the 24 artists together is their vitality. Each work in the exhibition has a solid and unique presence, manifested through courageous and vigilant investigations of their subjects. Every corner of the gallery shimmers with the intensity of these works, an achievement of great measure that conveys the deep commitment and resilience of these artists, and the curation team.

All of the works present a formidable thought, feeling, or process that has stayed close with me since my first visit, as their stories and ideas continue to unravel. “Hatched: National Graduate Show 2021” is a symphony of 24 terrifically talented artists who are set to take our galleries by storm.

“Hatched: National Graduate Show” runs at PICA until 11 July 2021.

Want to know more? Read Seesaw’s Q&As with Hatched artists Hannah Foley (TAS) and Shanti Gelmi (WA).

Pictured top is Grace Ware’s ‘Find a place to sit’, 2020. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Disclaimer: Miranda Johnson is a contributor to Seesaw.

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Author —
Patrick Gunasekera

Patrick Gunasekera (he/him) is an emerging writer, performer and dramatist based in Whadjuk Noongar boodjar. After reading a poorly-written review of a show by disabled artists, he went into arts journalism to improve criticism and media representation of marginalised cultural work. He really loves monkey bars, but not being judged for playing on them.

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