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Ten contemporary Australian artists reimagine historic works from the Bendigo Art Gallery collection
Seecum Cheung, Maike Hemmers, Pilar Mata Dupont, Isabelle Sully, and Flora Woudstra 
Looking for Agnes
, 2018
. Still from three channel projection. 
Courtesy the artists.

BENDIGO.- In this new exhibition curated by Jessica Bridgfoot, a group of mid-career contemporary Australian artists have been commissioned to create new works that responds to significant pieces from the gallery’s 19th and 20th century Australian and European collections.

Working across a range of mediums including sound, film, performance and painting and textiles, each were invited to examine the technological, social, environmental, political and historical events that have occurred since the original works were created, and revisit interpretations of Australian and European histories through the lens of contemporary culture.

“The exhibition provides an opportunity for this impressive group of artists to use Bendigo Art Gallery’s collection to reflect on and examine not only the past, but the present and the future, in an exhibition that will bring a new energy to, and a different way of seeing, some of the iconic historical works in our collection,” said Karen Quinlan, Bendigo Art Gallery Director.

In the exhibition:

Phuong Ngo responds to one of Bendigo Art Gallery’s most popular works, Herbert Schmaltz 1886 painting, Too Late, with a multi-screen video installation that examines the ongoing and inherited trauma of post war displacement and loss.

Gabrielle de Vietri has worked with parents from the Bendigo community to create a series of letters to their children, each revealing the individual writers personal hopes and fears against the backdrop of uncertain political futures and environmental shifts. The project, Letters to the Living, responds to Thomas Kennington’s 1890 painting, Homeless, and will become part of a time capsule to be unearthed in the future.

Pilar Mata DuPont has worked with a series of international artists to create a video installation responding to Agnes Goodsir’s painting, Girl with a Cigarette (circa 1925), and Paul Yore and Devon Ackermann exhibiting under the moniker of FAMILY FIRST! question the value systems underpinning traditional institutes of the church, state and the family unit, by responding to Carl Hoff’s The Golden Wedding.

“By commissioning a series of contemporary responses to historic works, New Histories highlights the historic role of the artist and the museum as documenters and commentators of the world and invites us to rethink colonial and western ways of viewing,” Jessica Bridgfoot said. “Through a kind of cross examination process, the artists are invoking in us a moment of self-reflection – look at how far we’ve come – what have or haven’t we learnt from the past?”

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