Australia. A lightness of Spirit is the measure of Happiness

The exhibition curated by Hannah Presley in Melbourne explores two aspects of Australian society – humor and community – through the work of contemporary Aboriginal artists.

Robert Fielding, Untitled, 2018

“It is not only heavy history that we hold, we are also happy, connected people.” In these words, curator Hanna Presley sums up the spirit of “A lightness of Spirit is the measure of Happiness”, the latest exhibition at the Australian Center for Contemporary Art (ACCA) in Southbank, Melbourne. “The show is light, but it features a sophistication that comes from that heaviness.”

Ten new works have been commissioned to contemporary artists from all over the country to show visitors the everyday life and experiences of Aboriginal people today – or, better said, to discover who contemporary Australians are. Their work references to community leadership, country music icons, queer identity and pop-culture. What connects each work is the legacy of ancestors and a sense of peaceful nostalgia, bringing the past to the present. The works exhibited show a number of media and representation techniques: from Benita Clements’ watercolors tributing Modern Aboriginal paintings, to Yhonnie Scarce’s glass blowing, to Peter Waples-Crowe’s installation that discusses the representation of Aboriginal people in pop culture.

Peter Waples-Crowe, Ngarigo Queen – Cloak of queer visibility, 2018
Peter Waples-Crowe, Ngarigo Queen – Cloak of queer visibility, 2018, possum pelts, waxed linen thread, leather dyes, pokerwork, 380.0 x 129.0 cm, installation view. Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne. Cloak-making advisor: Maree Clarke. Courtesy the artist

The exhibition is part of Yalingwa, a Victorian Government initiative and a partnership between Creative Victoria, ACCA and TarraWarra Museum of Art, to support the development of contemporary Indigenous art and curatorial practice. Artists on show are Alec Baker, Benita Clements, Vicki Couzens, Robert Fielding, Jonathan Jones, Peter Mungkuri, Vincent Namatjira, Jimmy Pompey, Yhonnie Scarce, Peter Waples-Crowe, Lisa Waup, Kaylene Whiskey and Tiger Yaltangki.

Opening image: Robert Fielding, Untitled, 2018, found flour buckets, lights dimensions variable, installation view. Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne. Courtesy the artist and Mimili Maku Arts, Mimili Community, South Australia  

A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness
Hannah Presley
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)
Initiative by:
Opening dates:
7 July – 16 September 2018
111 Sturt Street, Southbank, Melbourne, Australia

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