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Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art opens Primavera 2011: Exhibition by young Australian artists
Rebecca Baumann, Improvised Smoke Device 2010. Performance, Artists in Response to City Spaces, Perth, 2010. Coloured smoke, aluminium, foil, wire, black powder, quick match fuse, detonator. Image courtesy and © the artist. Photo: Bewley Shaylor.

SYDNEY.- TheMuseum of Contemporary Art (MCA) presents works by the five individual artists and three artist groups selected for Primavera 2011, the MCA’s annual exhibition showcasing the work of Australian artists aged 35 years and under. This exhibition, the 20th Primavera, has been curated by MCA Curator Anna Davis.

The Primavera 2011 artists are: Rebecca Baumann (Western Australia), Eric Bridgeman (Queensland), Brown Council - Kelly Doley, Frances Barrett, Diana Smith, Kate Blackmore (New South Wales), Tom O’Hern (Tasmania), Jess Olivieri and Hayley Forward with the Parachutes for Ladies (New South Wales), Keg de Souza (New South Wales), Hiromi Tango (Queensland), and Tessa Zettel & Karl Khoe (New South Wales). For the first time, this year’s Primavera is being exhibited outside of the Museum in The Rocks, Sydney’s historic inner-city precinct. A diverse range of works including, drawing, sculpture, photography, installation and video, will be presented in unexpected and surprising locations throughout the area. In response to this unique setting, selected artists will also create new site-specific, participatory, ephemeral and performance-based works in locations throughout The Rocks.

Primavera 2011 focuses on artists whose practices stretch beyond the confines of the gallery, intervening in public and private spaces; and interacting with the natural environment, local communities, architecture and passers-by. The exhibition explores how artists can enliven the everyday and provide unique experiences in the city by re-imagining histories, stories and myths connected to particular sites.

There are several themes running through the exhibition. A number of artists share an interest in emotion, how it is experienced and displayed, and the difference between public and private selves. There is also a common concern for ‘the role of the artist’ in contemporary society; every day issues such as the cost of living, as well as the anxiety and joy of creating a new work and putting it on public display. Underlying many of the works is the notion of time and its passing; how time is experienced at bodily level; historical and archaeological processes; and how reimagining the past can allow us see the future. Finally, many of the works incorporate a dark humour, some balance on the threshold between comedy and tragedy; others invoke the notion of the carnival, brief moments in time when outrageous behaviour is momentarily sanctioned through costume and disguise.

Hiromi Tango’s work, Hiromi Hotel: mixed blood (2011), will evolve over the course of the exhibition. The artist and her collaborators will build a womb-like portable bed sculpture that Tango will periodically inhabit over the course of the exhibition. Created using a range of materials including wood, metal, fabric, twine and personal effects, the sculpture reflects the artist’s desire to understand the malleable nature of identity and the constantly changing boundaries between herself and others.

Keg de Souza’s Utopian Drift (2011), an inflatable sculpture crafted from found and donated umbrella skins, presents a very different structure inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome, a symbol of 70s utopian architecture. The work responds to the history of The Rocks, in particular the Rum Rebellion of 1808, the Green Ban clashes of the 1970s and ongoing issues of housing and real-estate. A trained architect, de Souza is interested in the limits of everyday architecture, the division of ownership between public and private land, and the residential restrictions that shape communities. As part of the work, the artist will also lead a free walking tour throughout The Rocks.

Brisbane-based artist Eric Bridgman will plaster local walls with photographic print posters that offer a darkly humorous exploration of racial tensions, stereotypes and gender roles in Australian sporting culture. Sydney artists Tessa Zettel & Karl Khoe will transform the area’s iconic 1960s red telephone booths into time machines in order to re-think the future. Tom O’Hern’s exquisite drawings and painted wall murals combine images of mythological characters from The Rock’s past with contemporary symbolism to explore a personal narrative of masculinity, primitivism and suburbia.

Rebecca Baumann’s mesmerising flip-clock installation and ephemeral works using brightly coloured smoke and confetti celebrate the transient moment, and will leave viewers with a lingering sense of wonder. Jess Olivieri and Hayley Forward with the Parachutes for Ladies are creating a range of works inspired by ideas surrounding social psychology and the human condition, in particular people’s behaviour in crowds. Brown Council presents a series of pop-up performances, taking on the role of buskers, encouraging visitors to donate money in exchange for a photograph with the artists. The act is a metaphorical exploration of the economics of the art world and the obstacles faced in trying to earn a living as an artist today.

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