12 – 21 July @ Fremantle Arts Centre ·
Presented by Feet First Collective ·
Feet First Collective presents the WA premiere of S-27 by Sarah Grochala cocooned within an immersive experience that unfolds inside the rooms and winding halls of the iconic Fremantle Arts Centre as part of the 2019 Fremantle Festival.
Winner of the iceandfire/Amnesty International ‘Protect the Human’ Playwriting Competition in 2007, the play was inspired by the history of Cambodia’s S-21 prison under the rule of the Khmer Rouge and draws on prison records and interviews.
S-27 is an opportunity to imagine a dark and disturbing future. This work will be of interest to theatre lovers, history buffs and Fremantle businesses looking for a really different team experience in their City. Numbers for this performance are strictly limited so early bookings are encouraged.
S-27 contains adult themes and is recommend for 15+ years. Fremantle Arts Centre is a licenced venue: 15 -18 year-olds must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Please visit the website to check mobility requirements.
12-14 and 16-21* July
*Additional late show on 20 July (Doors open 8.30pm – Performance at 9.30pm)
Doors open: 6:30pm (Drinks available, meet in bar area in the Cell Room)
Performance begins: 7:30pm (Cell Room and Pavlich Room)
Running time: 80mins (approximately) Ticket Price: Standard $25 +bf
Review: ‘Revealed: New and Emerging Aboriginal Artists’ and ‘To Be Continued: Photography from Indigenous Australia’ ·
Fremantle Arts Centre ·
Review by Miranda Johnson ·
“Revealed: New and Emerging Aboriginal Artists” and “To Be Continued: Photography from Indigenous Australia”, currently at Fremantle Arts Centre, are two exhibitions that display the breadth of talent of Aboriginal artists in Australia as well as the strength of their active resistance to ongoing colonial practices.
“To Be Continued” is a survey of contemporary photography from remote, rural and metropolitan based Aboriginal artists. In contrast to “Revealed”, the show is quite contained, spanning just two rooms. Within these rooms, however, dreamlike memories and historical narratives are retold and reimagined, examining Australia’s colonial past – and present – to undermine accepted narratives.
“To Be Continued” somehow feels speculative, towards not only the past but the future. Lavene McKenzie’s works draw out pivotal memories from her childhood of discovering and cementing her cultural identity through the relationship to her country. In Grandfather, a tableau beautifully draws out the mundane details of a childhood afternoon – chicken flavoured chips and a bottle of coke – to contrast with the landscape of the Stirling Ranges peeking tantalisingly through the screen door. McKenzie’s grandfather gestures towards their country to reinforce their spiritual and cultural connection to what’s out there.
McKenzie’s dreamlike images speak closely to the centrepiece of the first room, Fiona Foley’s fictionalised retelling of the Aboriginal missions in Queensland, and the power relationships between the men of the clergy and government, and the Badtjala people. Drawing on the historical records of the time, Foley does not turn away from the dark narratives of sexual abuse, slavery and addiction. In her images, Aboriginal people and white colonialists are photographed side-by-side, their deliberate gazes and conscious poses belying the seemingly historical tableaux, conscious of their presence as performers rather than subjects. Looking to a dystopian future – as well as a historical land grab – Michael Cook’s speculative images of native Australian fauna invading 1960s London on spaceships provides a humorous yet pointed consideration on the violence of invasion, inverting narratives of power.
Comprising of an art market, exhibition, artist talks, mentorship programs and curatorial placements, “Revealed” is an annual program that brings together Aboriginal art centres from around Western Australia as well as a number of independent Aboriginal artists, to display the expansiveness of Indigenous art practice.
The biggest “Revealed” exhibition to date, the 2019 iteration certainly feels expansive, as the corridor lined with block printed linen from the women of the Nagula Jarndu Aboriginal Women’s Art and Resource Centre encloses the viewer in the narrow space, then gives way to the airy galleries of FAC’s South Wing. Here, works by established Aboriginal artists are placed alongside emerging artists, with strong themes of mentorship and generational knowledge providing links between individual works as well as individual art centres.
This year, a focus on experimental use of materials and ways of making shines throughout the exhibition; Amanda Bell’s teabag-stained fabrics alongside a projection of her making process sits next to a vibrant fabric map of Langford. Denim patches with – variously – gum nuts, bird feathers, pebbles, bark and felt, embroidered painstakingly onto the fabric, create a visual map of country that marks the memories, emotions and cultural traditions embedded in the land.
It’s not only personal relationships to country and culture that are on display here, but a strength of resistance against the commodification and appropriation of said culture. This thread runs through both ‘Revealed’ and ‘To Be Continued’.
Questions of what culture means, on both a personal and a community level, and how it is abused by settler colonialists, capitalists and big corporations, are everywhere. It’s in asking these questions and telling these stories that the importance of exhibitions such as these – and the role played by Aboriginal art centres in creating and sustaining cultural knowledge, art practices and community – becomes clear. These are not just local initiatives, but sites of resistance.
With a focus on the creative and community-building possibilities of collaboration, and a strong commitment towards leaping into the unknown, project curator Andrew Nicholls gave Miranda Johnson some insights into the background of the project and what to expect when the installation is opened to the public at Revealed: WA Aboriginal Art Market, Saturday 13 April.
Miranda Johnson: How did the relationship between Polyglot, Tjanpi Desert Weavers and FORM originally come about? Andrew Nicholls: FORM has worked with Tjanpi on numerous exhibition projects over the past two decades we are huge admirers of their work in general, and well-aware of their artistic significance at a national level. Although we had not previously worked with Polyglot, they came to our attention a few years ago when we were looking to incorporate some more children-and-family-focused programming into what we do. It was actually my colleagues Amy Plant and Mollie Hewitt who first came up with the idea of bringing the two organisations together, as they recognised strong aesthetic similarities between the work made by both organisations. The three of us just had a gut feeling that there was the potential there for a really exciting collaboration.
I then approached each of the organisations (back in 2016) with an exceedingly vague invitation to collaborate, which was a bit daunting because at that stage we really didn’t have any clear idea what we were pitching! Luckily it turned out that Tjanpi had been thinking about exploring performance for some time and had just been waiting for the right project, and that Polyglot were huge fans of Tjanpi and also had been looking for a project that would allow them to collaborate with Aboriginal artists, so everything just fell into place. There’s been an extraordinary amount of serendipity and good luck as the work has come together over the past three years.
MJ: How were the project’s artists selected? AN: Tjanpi Desert Weavers engage artists from numerous communities spread across hundreds of thousands of kilometres of central Australia, so to make things manageable they suggested we work with four highly respected tjanpi artists from Warakurna, in remote Western Australia: Cynthia Burke, Dianne Ungukalpi Golding, Nancy Nanana Jackson, and Dallas Smythe.
Polyglot similarly recommended some of their most innovative performers, Justin Marshall, Justine Warner, and Tamara Rewse, with their phenomenally talented artistic director and co-CEO Sue Giles leading the development workshop sessions.
MJ: How has the collaborative process rolled out? AN: We held our first workshop at Polyglot’s premises in Melbourne in November 2016, to get to know each other and throw ideas around. Again, it was quite daunting for everyone because none of us had a clue what we were actually going to do together, or if a collaboration would even be possible. Thankfully everyone very quickly realised that we wanted to work together to make something really special. It has been an absolute joy to develop the work together, and to draw inspiration from such a talented and professional group of creatives.
The initial workshop was followed by a trip to Warakurna, where all of the non-Tjanpi artists were introduced to the Tjanpi artists’ Country. This was a transformative experience for everyone involved and allowed the artwork to really start to take shape. Further workshops followed in Perth and then in Warakurna again, and now in Fremantle during the lead-up to Revealed.
MJ: What are the similarities and differences that you noticed between each arts organisation’s artistic practices? AN: The project came about because everyone involved recognised similarities between what Tjanpi and Polyglot do. Both organisations make very sophisticated work from simple materials and techniques, and both of them have a joyously playful aesthetic and a highly mischievous sense of humour. In terms of the working methodology, the content of the project was primarily driven by the Tjanpi artists and how they wanted to share a sense of their Country, which was then shaped by the Polyglot team into something that would work as an experience for audiences. Throughout this process, FORM played the role of facilitator.
But the joy of tjanpi weaving is that the techniques are so easy to share, so within a couple of hours of meeting everyone at the first workshop in Melbourne we were all making tjanpi creatures that will be travelling across the country to be part of the work in Fremantle.
In terms of differences, Polyglot allows everything they do to be driven by input from children – kids are involved wherever possible throughout the development of their projects. This isn’t necessarily how the Tjanpi artists work, but children are always a strong presence in remote community life, so this felt like a very natural thing to incorporate into the process, and we worked with children in each of the workshop locations. The Tjanpi artists meanwhile are primarily inspired by culture and their connection to Country, and everyone got a taste of this in Warakurna. While non-Indigenous visitors to Warakurna are never going to have a comprehensive understanding of what this means, the creative team were given an extremely warm and generous introduction that really crystallised the project for everyone involved.
MJ: Can you tell me more about the interactive nature of the installation? AN: The installation is a space for children to explore at their own pace. The artists will all be present to guide this, but as with most of Polyglot’s work it is the participating children who will take control. They will get to climb over and explore the installation, discover tjanpi creatures hidden throughout the space, listen to the sounds of Warakurna, and sit inside the wiltja (a traditional shade structure) and learn how to create a tjanpi object of their own. We have tried to make it a work that children of almost any age, and all levels of physical ability, will be able to enjoy.
MJ: You’ve spoken about the wiltja as a literal safe space created from collaborative labour, which became central to the project. Tell me about this idea of a safe space, and what it can provide in terms of creativity… AN: Something that I think resonates with everyone who learns tjanpi weaving technique is how incredibly meditative and soothing it is to do – spending an hour or two in the company of those artists, hand-making something and sharing conversation simply makes you feel fantastic. I think the technique itself is a “safe space” and the wiltja was an organic extension of this. As an object in its own right it’s very clearly hand-made and it’s something you can sit inside, so it has a very cosy feel.
Everyone involved in “Manguri Wiltja” has had nothing but respect toward everyone else for the duration of the project, and this trust was able to build up over a solid length of time, which has given us all the confidence to work at our best and take a few creative risks with each other. That’s an incredibly rewarding space to be in as a creative. Ten days out from the world premiere we still don’t entirely know exactly what the experience of the final work will be, but we trust each other enough to know it’s going to be marvellous.
MJ: Do you see collaboration as central to cross-cultural learning and communication? Do you think this is something that would be beneficial to adults as well as children? AN: Absolutely. At FORM we always strive to try to achieve a level of collaboration in most projects we undertake with artists – we are passionate about placing artists in conversation with Western Australian communities and seeing what can happen as a result. However, co-creation is not something you can force. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The great joy of “Manguri Wiltja” is how the various collaborators “clicked” almost immediately on our first day together in Melbourne. Given how vague the parameters of the project were to everyone initially, and how disparate the various creative practices and cultural influences were, it could easily have gone the other way.
We have always intended for “Manguri Wiltja” to be a work that children can experience with their parents (or other relatives) so we absolutely want people of all ages to share in the joyous spirit of the project and learn some more about life in remote Australia.
12 April @ Fremantle Arts Centre ·
Presented by Fremantle Arts Centre ·
Revealed: Artists in Conversation offers a great opportunity to learn more about the fascinating and diverse projects happening at Aboriginal art centres throughout WA and across the national sector. Join us for a morning of insightful, intimate conversations.
Timo Hogan, Kumanara Stevens and Sophia Brown from Spinifex Arts Project in Tjuntjuntjara (Great Victoria Desert, WA) will speak about MILPA: Language, Driving & Art, an important interdisciplinary arts project focused on creating Pitjantjatjara language resources for Anangu drivers.
Perth Centre for Photography and GEE CONSULTANCY will present on their recent photographic development program EXPOSURE: New Voices in WA Photography.
Artist Yhonnie Scarce and curator Hannah Presley will share some of their recent projects, focusing on work theyare undertaking in remote communities.
Lavene McKenzie and Dave Laslett, photographic collaborators from South Australia, will share their experiences of the First Nations Photographic Mentoring program they have been offering in South Australia.
Artist and storyteller Mervyn Street from Mangkaja Arts will share his recent project Veins of the Country which explores the importance of water, and the deep connection people have to water in the Fitzroy Valley.
Revealed: Artists in Conversation runs from 10am to 12pm.
Revealed: Artists in Conversation will be hosted by Western Australian curator, producer and writer Glenn Iseger-Pilkington. Cultural associations: Wadjarri, Nhanda, Noongar, Dutch and Scottish.
13 April @ Fremantle Arts Centre ·
Presented by FORM and Fremantle Arts Centre ·
During the Revealed Market, children and families are invited to enter Manguri Wiltja, an interactive play space made from intricate tjanpi woven forms, repurposed tyres and evocative sounds. A wiltja is a traditional shelter created here from woven circles, offering a tranquil space for contemplation. The installation draws upon the playful yet sophisticated aesthetics of both Tjanpi Desert Weavers and Polyglot Theatre and is designed to introduce children to the culture and Country of Warakurna.
FORM presents Manguri Wiltja at Revealed in a world premiere. The installation will tour nationally throughout 2019. For more information visit www.form.net.au
Perth Festival review: David Noonan, “A Dark and Quiet Place”; Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran & Renee So, “Idols” ·
Fremantle Arts Centre ·
Review by Belinda Hermawan ·
Fremantle Arts Centre has opened its 2019 programming with an impressively curated double-bill of exhibitions presented as part of the Perth Festival, both of which raise questions about visibility and power. David Noonan’s monochromatic film, collage and tapestry works transport us into a wholly immersive experience of stagecraft; while Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran’s and Renee So’s ceramic works “face off” in a gallery space of their own.
Noonan’s 28-minute film Untitled, A Dark and Quiet Place is the main feature of his exhibition. Noonan describes the piece as “art directing existing images, stripping them back”. Black and white photographs are overlayed, juxtaposed and collaged together in a shifting tableau that draws parallels between the way in which theatre productions are staged and the way in which we stage our own lives. Often the camera will pan out from what initially looks like a simple pattern of lines or shapes, to reveal the theatre stage, various props, audio-visual components, actors dissolving into the next frame or exiting stage left… all the elements of a performance. The viewing experience is immersive, even three dimensional; at times I felt I was in a fragment of an MC Escher sketch or inside a Magic Eye puzzle. While the images are not quite surrealist, they do conjure a sense of awe.
The film includes a variety of interchangeable actors who are never afforded staying power. This theme echoes into the untitled jacquard tapestry hanging in the adjacent room. The stage actors are performing, but are lying on their backs with their heads raised, as if they are aware of a potential audience but lack the agency to make the next move. In thematic contrast, the other three untitled works in this exhibition are prints that juxtapose actors in poses with collages of lines where patterns appear in the vertical. While these columns appear rigid, like the test pattern on a television set, the variation in the horizontal lines’ height and opacity demonstrates that not everything is fixed, that even within a set structure, there is room to move.
The playful sculptures in Nithiyendran and So’s “Idols” provide an equally evocative commentary on agency and representation, this time in the context of gender expectations and idol worship. So’s stoneware works Bellarmine XV and XVI and Woman III, IV and V present as artefacts from another world, the evocative, deep earthy brown colour a result of the oxidisation process during firing. But these enigmatic idols are tongue-in-cheek, from their peculiar heads and voluptuous figures, down to their alien-like three-legged bases. Questions are raised: Are they both male and female? From which body parts do their authoritative auras come?
One theory of the origin of Bellarmine, or Bartmann, jugs is that they were conceived to make fun of Cardinal Robert Bellarmine and his anti-alcohol stance. This context makes So’s subversive decision – to sculpt a womanly figure with a face of grapes as a drinking vessel – particularly satisfying. The grape motif reappears in the neutral-coloured, knitted pieces Legs II and Circle – protest interwoven in body, a resistance to labels or instructions.
Nithiyendran’s background as a painter serves him well in his outlandishly colourful depictions of deities. Having taught himself ceramics via YouTube tutorials, his sense of adventure comes through in the deliberately unrefined sculpting and glazing of the giant heads. Throughout history, idols have been, typically, serene but Nithiyendran embraces chaos, firing smaller pieces in the kiln before assembling them in totems of unexpected scale and textural detail – exaggerated facial features, a king’s crown of tubular creatures, coral-like beards, bones as limbs, piercings and tribal-like jewellery – on stages of vibrant yellow. His signature is painted haphazardly in huge letters on the back of one head, while the letters of his first name are implanted across two eyes in another.
Rather than worshipping order and rules, should we not celebrate the freeform and unique? Perhaps, as the large collage Trio of selves at the proverbial gym appears to suggest, it is unhealthy to subscribe to the myth of the ideal male body, an Instagram goal that doesn’t seem even remotely achievable when juxtaposed behind three figures whose features more closely resemble those of a child’s drawing.
Thought-provoking and visually arresting, these three artists’ curated works are an excellent example of worthy investment in visual art by the Perth Festival. Fremantle Art Centre’s installation and use of gallery space is particularly well executed and their staff knowledgeable. I highly recommend setting aside at least an hour for this free event – you’ll be transported to stages unknown.
Perth Festival review: Ochre Contemporary Dance Company & Daksha Sheth Dance Company, Kwongkan (Sand) ·
Fremantle Arts Centre, 16 February ·
Review by Varnya Bromilow ·
Creating overtly political art is hard. As an artist, how do you strike the balance between missed message and straight-up didacticism? Where does beauty fit into the picture, or should it not matter? Considering the fraught nature of the path, it’s unsurprising that many artists steer clear of broader political messages, irrespective of the depth of their personal convictions.
As a creator, Mark Howett has always dived fearlessly into this fray. As artistic director of WA’s Ochre Contemporary Dance Company he has directed 3.3 (2018), Kaya (2016) and Good Little Soldier (2017). Each of these productions was notable for its deft handling of thorny social issues and for the high calibre of technique and artistry. Whether the topic was Indigenous incarceration (3.3) or PTSD (Good Little Soldier), Howett straddled the line between preachiness and meaning with certainty, creating compelling shows that spoke truth as they engaged. With Kwongkan (Sand) however, that sweet spot is missed. It’s a deeply felt, impassioned treatise about climate change… but it’s also deeply flawed.
Like Kaya before it, Kwongkan is the fruit of a cross-cultural exchange between Ochre and Daksha Sheth Dance Company in Kerala, India. The work began life as a film, which some audience members may have seen preceding 3.3 last year. This first, film version of the work is lushly evocative, signalling an interest in the environment, but lacking the overt political agenda that forms the core of Kwongkan as a dance work. The most effective parts of 2019’s Kwongkan feature sections from the original film as backdrop, with dancers Ian Wilkes, Isha Sharvani and Kate Harman silhouetted in the foreground.
As a former lighting designer, Howett has a terrific eye for the visual and in this way, Kwongkan meets the high bar set by his previous efforts. Unfurling plastic film sheaths Harman, as she leaps across the grassed stage of the Fremantle Arts Centre; a blanket of soft plastics unrolls down an incline; Sharvani shinnies up a silk suspended from one of the eucalypts bordering the stage – there are some wonderful visual elements here but they feel like additions bolted onto what is an unfocused and uncertain narrative.
Kwongkan’s troubles begin with a split narrative focus – we start with climate change and humanity’s destruction of the planet, then we shift suddenly to the Stolen Generation and back again to the climate, this time with an emphasis on plastics. Each of these themes is worthy of a dance work of its own – to combine them all into one hour feels cruelly brief.
There is some truly remarkable filmed footage of the camps Aboriginal children lived in after being torn from their parents. This is complemented by incredible traditional dancing from Wilkes, who is one of the best young dancers at work in Australia. Sharvani and Harman join him in this sequence, one of the only joint sequences that enjoys a synchronicity noticeably elusive elsewhere. The accompanying skit of Wilkes’ forced adherence to Western dress codes is embarrassingly simplistic, seriously underestimating the audience’s capacity for a more nuanced depiction of this abhorrent period of our shared history.
Then, without notice, we are back to the environment. Admittedly, Howett faces a tremendous challenge in creating work about climate change – socio-cultural fatigue. Even the most ardent among us are sinking into a kind of inert despair at the lack of political action on this front. We understand the danger, we make lifestyle changes… but I’m ashamed to admit that I now actively avoid looking at the plastic ocean imagery because it makes me feel so awfully hopeless. There’s no avoidance to be had here – image after image of plastic-choked sea creatures were projected in a sequence that had many in the Fremantle audience in tears. This was followed by the dancers chanting (“we can’t eat money”) and exhorting the audience to join in. But rather than feeling like an uprising, it felt to me like a sad, desperate refrain.
There is no doubting the urgency of the themes tackled here, or the passion of the players. But despite these noble aims and some flashes of brilliance, Kwongkan fails to live up to expectations, both of Howett’s work and of Festival curated fare.
Review: ‘Animaze; Amazing Animals for Kids’ ⋅
Fremantle Arts Centre, November 24 ⋅
Review by Rosalind Appleby ⋅
Visiting the Fremantle Arts Centre’s latest exhibition was like touring Aladdin’s cave; room after room filled with artistic riches that the four children I had in tow wanted to admire, touch, and try. Fortunately that’s exactly what is intended with Animaze: Amazing Art for Kids. Fremantle Arts Centre’s first exhibition designed specifically for children features the work of 50 artists and much of the work is interactive. You can time your visit to coincide with a sculpture or crotchet classes, story time, stroller tour or artist in residence session. Entry is free and even better you can pause part way for lunch at the cafe or a run under the trees.
We started in the gallery where Ross Potter was working on a life-sized drawing of Tricia the elephant from Perth Zoo. Potter patiently answered questions and demonstrated how he used his toolbox of pencils and electric erasers to shade the enormous elephant with photographic accuracy. Then we were distracted for a good twenty minutes by the immersive joy of a room full of crochet. The Golden Wattle Hookers (Jill and Holly O’Meehan) have constructed a reef structure from brightly coloured wool art that climbs up walls, hangs from the roof and creates snuggly nooks. It was the ultimate in tactile, sensory art and for several in my entourage this was the highlight, a place where they could hide, rest, and marvel.
Further treasures were uncovered down a hallway (via a 2-channel soundscape of frog and bird calls) where a dark room offered monster animal portraits (Austen Mengler) , shadow puppet opportunities and – by chance – the opportunity to become a work of art. It was perhaps not part of the original intention but my children – encouraged by the spirit of participation the exhibition had generated – discovered they were also illuminated by the UV light in Anna Nazzari’s aquarium: “My shirt has become seaweed!” my five year old exulted.
There was so much to see and do: Joe Ong’s intricate 10 metre pen drawing of 460 animals caused us to pause in wonder; the animated numbat images scurrying across a wall invited whole-body participation and there was wallpaper to colour and pom-poms to stick on a giraffe.
And then there were the bean bags scattered everywhere to collapse in. It was during one such chill-stop that we noticed the Cicada series on a wall. “I like Shaun Tan’s work,” the nine year old in our party recognised it with delight. “It’s unorthodox. He draws weird things that aren’t normal. They are grey and sad but there is always something bright in there that the story is about.”
It’s not hard to ignite the imagination of a child but they are also honest critics, not easily duped by adults dragging them through an ‘educational’ art experience. It is sheer delight when arts companies (as Fremantle Arts Centre have done) pitch it just right so that the children interact spontaneously. All four of my entourage voted Animaze a success. “I really like art,” said one. “I suck at it but I really like it and it was good to learn more”.
“The whole thing was important,” they concluded, “doing an exhibition for the first time ever just for kids.”
7 Feb – 24 Mar @ Fremantle Arts Centre ·
Presented by David Noonan ·
London-based artist David Noonan has made his name internationally as an assembler of black and white photographic images. Collected from found books and periodicals, the images are juxtaposed, edited and collated to conjure a range of possible narratives.
For his first exhibition in Western Australia Noonan has created an immersive installation that invites viewers into an atmospheric ‘dark and quiet place’. Bringing together in dialogue major new works rendered in film and tapestry, this strangely cinematic and poetic world offers a meditative space of wonder and intrigue.
Presented in association with Fremantle Arts Centre
7 Feb – 24 Mar @ Fremantle Arts Centre ·
Presented by Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran & Renee So ·
Idolatry and mythological archetypes are reimagined in the ceramics and wall works of Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran and Renee So. Working primarily in figurative ceramics, both artists aim to challenge and overturn old perspectives on gender, gendered power structures and the aesthetics of spiritualities.
Nithiyendran creates rough-edged, vibrant, new-age sculptures that are at once enticing and confronting. He experiments with form and scale in the context of figurative sculpture to explore the politics of sex, monuments, gender and religion. He draws on his Hindu and Christian heritage as reference points, as well as the internet, fashion and art history.
In hand-built stoneware sculptures and machine knitted textile works, Renee So also explores constructions of masculinity, femininity and gender-based power structures. Underpinning these works is a deep interest in the history of art, craft and design, and a considered irony.
The pairing of So with Nithiyendran creates a richly experiential, witty and provocative dialogue about gender, power and their signifiers. The skill and originality of each artist makes for an energetic ‘face-off’ – as much because of the differences as the similarities between the two practices. When installed together, Nithiyendran’s works form a chaotic shrine that in the context of the Idols exhibition will be anchored and thrown into relief by So’s enigmatic yet authoritative male and female figures.
Presented in association with Fremantle Arts Centre