15 February, 2006

high tide - warsaw

"High Tide: New Currents in Art from Australia and New Zealand"

February 17–April 09

HIGH TIDE is a bi-national survey exhibition presenting work by 32 artists and two collectives from Australia and New Zealand.

It is the first major exhibition of its kind presented in Poland and the largest-scale exhibition combining artists from both nations staged internationally. The exhibition presents work across a range of media including drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, video and performance. As a special feature of the exhibition a number of artists have traveled to Warsaw to produce newly commissioned site-specific art works, some of them reflectingon the artists" engagement with Polish culture.

HIGH TIDE is loosely framed by three themes "Popular Visions", "the Suburban", and "New Outlooks" and collects three generations of artists from Bill Culbert (b. 1935) to A.L.A.N. Hsu (b. 1981).

The starting point for the exhibition, "Popular Visions", looks at Australian and New Zealand art from a Polish point of view and locates themes and motifs in the work that match expectations, such as: big and beautiful nature; "exotic" and strange nature; the ocean; and the importance of indigenous people in both cultures. Even though many artists from both nations make work that reflects the popular imaginary it is often for the
purpose of making humorous commentary or revealing a hidden underbelly of this imagination. Environmental concerns are repeated in the exhibition as artists point to the impact that human contact is having on the unique and often fragile ecologies of both geographies. Ironically, themore people who visit this nature the faster its beauty fades. Similarly, the Aboriginal, Maori, and Pacific Island artists in the exhibition chart the complicated impact that European colonization has had on their homelands and peoples.

Despite the important role nature plays in the characterization of Australia and New Zealand they are both urban cultures; more than 85% of the population in both nations live in cities. Sydney the region"s largest city has a population approaching 4.5 million people so can truly be considered a metropolis. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that a number of artists in HIGH TIDE make work that refers to urban/street culture relating to "the Suburban" theme. As is often the case with art made in large cities there is even a tendency to withdraw from the space of the city itself to the privacy of domestic, truly "suburban" spaces: what are known in Australia and New Zealand as the "living room" and the "the back yard".

In the last five years an increasing number of artists from Australia and New Zealand have begun to live and work internationally; concentrated in the United States and western Europe. Naturally, artists belonging to this group have begun to make art works that reflect their new living spaces and the cultures and art histories they are now engaging with. A different version of this process is artists who emigrate to Australia and New Zealand from elsewhere in the world, often as art students, whose work makes new cultural connections or reflects multi-national concerns. This group of artists produces "New Outlooks" on the art produced in both countries.

HIGH TIDE is an exhibition that aims to introduce Polish audiences to contemporary art from Australia and New Zealand and reflect upon culture from both countries in an insightful and humorous fashion.

The exhibition is co-organized with the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, where it is going to be presented from June till August 2006.

Artists presented at the exhibition:

Brook Andrew, Guy Benfield, Mladen Bizumic, Lisa Crowley, Bill Culbert, Destiny Deacon and Virginia Fraser, Ex de Medici, Mikala Dwyer, Shaun Gladwell, Matthew Griffin, A.L.A.N. Hsu, Peggy Napangardi Jones, The Kingpins, Maddie Leach, Daniel Malone, MINIT (Jasmine Guffond and Torben Tilly), Tracey Moffatt, TV Moore, James Morrison, Callum Morton, Ani O'Neill, Michael Parekowhai, Patricia Piccinini, Rachel Rakena, Scott Redford, Ann Shelton, Jim Speers, Kathy Temin, Yvonne Todd, Francis Upritchard, Ronnie van Hout, Suzann Victor, Louise Weaver, Boyd Webb

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