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MCA Announces 2010 Exhibition Program as Record Attendance Continues
Peter Kennedy Neon light installations 1970-2002 neon, composition board, synthetic polymer paint Installation view, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2005 Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased 2004 Image courtesy the artist and Sutton Gallery, Melbourne © the artist.

SYDNEY.- The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) has unveiled a dynamic 2010 exhibition program including an extensive contribution to the 17th Biennale of Sydney, as well as major solo exhibitions by internationally acclaimed artists Sylvie Blocher and Runa Islam. 2010 also promises to feature survey exhibitions of work by widely respected Australasian artists, including Bardayal ‘Lofty’ Nadjamerrek—who was born in West Arnhem Land in 1926 and passed away last year—and Michael Stevenson—who was born in New Zealand and currently lives and works in Berlin.

The announcement of the 2010 exhibition program comes as the MCA continues to clock record visitor attendances. From January through December 2009, a total of 547, 935 people visited MCA exhibitions. This high attendance level has ensured that 2009 surpassed 2008 as the highest annual attendance figure in the Museum’s 19 year history.

MCA Director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor said: ‘The popularity of MCA exhibitions continues to grow. In 2009, attendance was particularly boosted by record numbers to two specific exhibitions. Visitors were especially drawn to the works of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, whose acclaimed exhibition runs at the MCA until April 2010. We hope this upward trend will continue in 2010, thanks to an exciting and diverse new exhibition and education program which I am certain will also attract large numbers throughout the year.’

LEVEL 4 / 17 FEBRUARY – 26 APRIL 2010

Prominent video artist Sylvie Blocher (born 1953, France) creates portraits of individuals or groups within society. Through these works, which she titles ‘Living Pictures’, Blocher explores communal issues as well as personal themes, asking questions to which her subjects respond with often surprising candor. The questions are taken away in the final edit and the portraits become an extended series of statements. Presented across single or multiple screens, Blocher’s works envelop viewers spatially as they address the complexities of modern urban life.

The MCA exhibition Sylvie Blocher: What Is Missing? represents a survey of the artist’s video installations from 2003 to the present, and takes its title from a new work with residents of Penrith in Sydney’s west. Engaging and frequently provocative, exhibited works explore a range of themes from cultural identity and migration to issues of authority, masculinity and self-expression. Exhibition highlights include Men in Gold, focusing on the privileged lives of Silicon Valley’s millionaires, and Je et Nous (I and Us), made in collaboration with the large multi-ethnic community of Sevran, France.

LEVEL 4 / 17 FEBRUARY – 29 AUGUST 2010

David Elliott is the Artistic Director of the 17th Biennale of Sydney, 2010—THE BEAUTY OF DISTANCE: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age.
Reflecting themes contained in the 17th Biennale, this exhibition conveys various ideas of distance, as well as the capacity for wonder—the realisation of a powerful beauty much greater than oneself.

Taking its title from a 2006 painting by Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd, which shows the landing of Captain Cook in Botany Bay from the perspective of the First Peoples, the exhibition examines how histories of colonisation vary radically according to the perspective of the viewer. Selected works from the MCA Collection are arranged like a pre-modern museum or ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’.

Artists include Daniel Boyd, Mitch Cairns, Aleks Danko, Newell Harry, Maria Kozic, Vivienne Shark LeWitt and Jenny Watson.

17TH BIENNALE OF SYDNEYTHE BEAUTY OF DISTANCE: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age LEVELS 1,2,3 & 4 / 12 MAY – 1 AUGUST 2010
Since 1973, the Biennale of Sydney has showcased international and Australian contemporary art and is among the most respected biennale exhibitions worldwide. The 17th Biennale of Sydney is directed by internationally esteemed curator David Elliott. It is presented in venues and sites around Sydney Harbour, including the Museum of Contemporary Art—where the Biennale will occupy all four floors.

The 17th Biennale, titled THE BEAUTY OF DISTANCE: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age, celebrates the many different beauties of distance by including art from around the world. By providing a unique experience of a wide range of art, the exhibition expresses its power, as well as its creative richness.

Elliott has said of the exhibition: ‘Distance allows us to be ourselves despite the many capacities we share. We are all the same, yet different, and it is our differences that make us—according to the circumstances—beautiful, terrifying, funny, sexy, unsettling, challenging, horrific or even many of these at once. The idea of distance also expresses the condition of art itself. Art is of life, runs parallel to life and is sometimes about life. But for art to be art it must maintain a distance from life.’

LEVEL 3 / 19 AUGUST – 23 NOVEMBER 2010

In the Balance: Art for a Changing World features works by Australian and international contemporary artists that respond to ecological concerns. The exhibition reflects the diversity of environmental debates and concerns within and beyond Australia today, and features works that address a spectrum of issues including sustainability and recycling.

The exhibition encompasses photography, film, installation and architecture, drawing on the MCA Collection and loans from across the country. In the Balance: Art for a Changing World presents a number of site-specific and commissioned works, performances, and projects taking place both within and outside the Museum. In addition, the exhibition explores the role of community engagement and participation.

LEVEL 4 / 19 AUGUST – 11 NOVEMBER 2010

Runa Islam was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh (1970) and lives and works in London. She is renowned for her film and video installations which experiment with modes of representation as a way to reconsider ideas and visual forms.

This exhibition comprises selected installations from 2003 to the present, including a new 16mm film work jointly commissioned by the MCA Sydney and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Included is a key 16mm film installation Be The First To See What You See As You See It (2004). Using a stylized aesthetic approach, it depicts a young woman as she walks purposefully through a museum-like display of porcelain crockery. Alternating between long shots and close crops, it builds in anticipation as the relationship between the girl as passive spectator, and the artifacts as valued objects, gradually alters. The tension between stillness and movement, expectation and realisation is captured in the work, notably in scenes where slow motion technique is used to extend its fragmentary and transformative qualities.

LEVEL 1 & 2 / 19 AUGUST – 11 NOVEMBER 2010

Primavera is an annual exhibition for Australian artists 35 years of age and under. Primavera was founded in 1992 by the MCA and Dr Edward Jackson AM and Mrs Cynthia Jackson AM and their family in memory of their daughter and sister Belinda Jackson, a talented jewellery designer who passed away at the age of 29. The exhibition commemorates Belinda Jackson by celebrating the creative achievements of talented young artists who are in the early stages of their careers. It is one of the highlights of the MCA’s annual program.

The Guest Curator for Primavera 2010 is Katie Dyer, Curator at the National Art School, Sydney. Dyer’s selection for Primavera 2010 focuses on artists’ individual achievements in a variety of disciplines, rather than summarising movements or trends. It reflects a broad variety of styles and approaches while highlighting innovative work by emerging artists who are contributing to new interpretations of contemporary art practice.

LEVEL 4 / 23 NOVEMBER 2010 – 27 FEBRUARY 2011

Born around 1926 in the Mann River region of Western Arnhem Land, Bardayal ‘Lofty’ Nadjamerrek (recently deceased), lived at Kabulwarnamyo outstation located on the upper Liverpool River, in the stone country of the Arnhem Land plateau. This exhibition traces the influence and development of the artist’s practice and his legacy.

Bardayal’s position on Western Arnhem Land art was unique. As a prominent elder he resided over clan estates with long links to cave painting sites, which trace some of the oldest forms of human expression.

Bardayal’s earliest rock-art images are located at Karrmadjabdi, a shelter in his Mok clan estate on the Liverpool River, where he painted fish species, yam, rock possum and representations of Namorrodoh spirit beings by shaping bees wax and pressing them into the rock. In 1969, Bardayal began to paint on bark and paper remaining loyal to the natural pigments used for rock art.

LEVEL 1 & 2 / 23 NOVEMBER 2010 – 27 FEBRUARY 2011

Originally from New Zealand, now based in Berlin, Michael Stevenson has been described as an ‘anthropologist of the avant-garde’. This exhibition is the first survey of the artist’s work in Australia.

Michael Stevenson provides an overview of a career spanning more than 20 years, beginning with regional realist landscapes and later still-life paintings. The exhibition also focuses on film, drawings, objects and installations, all of which explore the collision between American-based governmental conspiracy theories, the art world, cold-war subtexts and the seepage of these ideas into the cultural communities of New Zealand and Australia.

Stevenson’s recent works bend the space between fact and fiction, the real and the unreal encompassing a complex, seemingly unconnected web of wider international cultural, political and economical events based around the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979.

This exhibition explores the stories and places depicted in Bardayal’s work, providing visitors with a greater understanding and respect for the artist’s unique traditions and origins.


This exhibition presents a selection of kinetic, video and light-based works from the MCA Collection, augmented by loans from across the country. Spanning a variety of media, Flicker features installations, projections and objects by a range of artists utilising technologies of motion and light in their practice. Drawing on recent acquisitions by Australian artists, and key pieces from the JW Power Bequest acquired in the late 1960s and 70s, the exhibition focuses on this important area within the Museum’s Collection and its ongoing significance.

Several early works in the exhibition are precursors to contemporary immersive and interactive environments and Flicker invites audiences to consider these connections in light of current Australian art. It includes such works as Peter Kennedy’s large scale Neon Light Installations (1970 – 2002) which bathes the gallery space in brightly coloured kaleidoscopic light and Fiona Hall’s sensor activated installation The Price is Right (1995) a collection of opaque ‘Tupperware’ containers that blink luminous Morse code as viewers approach.

The Museum of Contemporary Art | Sylvie Blocher | Runa Islam | Elizabeth Ann Macgregor |

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