PICA announces 2024 Judy Wheeler Commission artist Diana Baker Smith
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PICA announces 2024 Judy Wheeler Commission artist Diana Baker Smith
Diana Baker Smith with Ella Sutherland, Make a Movement, 2021, installation view, Artspace, Sydney, applied vinyl, four panels (l-r: 88 x 101cm; 100 x 70.5cm; 88 x 101cm; 99 x 70.5cm), photo: Zan Wimberley.

PERTH.- Diana Baker Smith (NSW) has received the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art’s 2024 Judy Wheeler Commission to produce a new site-specific work for the multi-arts space.

Commencing in 2023, the Judy Wheeler Commission is the result of a 10-year philanthropic gift given by the Simpson family to PICA. Each year, it supports an Australia-based artist to create a bold new work that responds to PICA’s architecture and history as one of Perth’s first schools and now a contemporary art space.

Diana Baker Smith is a Gadigal (Sydney)-based artist who works across performance, moving image and installation to explore the relationship between art history and its institutions through a feminist lens. She is also a member of the acclaimed performance art collective, Barbara Cleveland.

Baker Smith’s winning proposal will feature a text-based score and live performance created specifically for the mezzanine level above PICA’s Central Gallery space.

The score will be made up of performative instructions inviting audiences to consider the history of the site (as a space of art, education and incubation), their relationship to the building’s architecture and the ways in which they move through its spaces.

On her selection, Baker Smith said: “I am thrilled to have been selected for the 2024 Judy Wheeler Commission. This is a unique opportunity to create an ambitious new work that responds to the architecture and history of PICA’s building and site.”

“I’m very grateful to the selection committee, and I’m looking forward to working with the PICA team to realise this project.”

The 2024 panel, consisting of Stephen Gilchrist (Senior Lecturer, UWA School of Indigenous Studies), Melissa Keys (Curator, Heide Museum of Art and former PICA curator) and Sarah Wall (Curator, PICA), selected Baker Smith from 42 submissions from artists across the country.

The selection panel commented: “We were incredibly impressed by the breadth and originality of submissions for the 2024 Judy Wheeler Commission and we’re delighted to announce Diana Baker Smith as the commission’s second recipient.”

“Diana’s site-specific choreographic installation stood out for its sophisticated multi-disciplinary approach – something she is well known for in her practice and a characteristic that sits in synergy with PICA’s unique industry position as a leading presenter of exhibition and performance.

“By occupying the space between performance and visual art, Diana’s work will enliven visitors’ experiences of PICA. We look forward to welcoming Diana and presenting her work in Perth for the first time.”

The commission builds on Baker Smith’s 15 year-long artistic practice. Her recent projects have been featured at UTS Art Gallery, Sydney; Contemporary Art Tasmania, Hobart; Artspace, Sydney; and National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. She holds a PhD from the University of NSW where she is a Lecturer in Fine Arts in the School of Art and Design.

Her work with Barbara Cleveland is held by major national collections, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Art Bank.

PICA Director/CEO Hannah Mathews said: “With PICA’s rich history as a space for education and experimentation, and home to the archives of influential Perth art collectives Praxis and Media-Space, there’s a wealth of stories for artists to investigate and reinterpret for contemporary audiences.”

“Diana’s work, with Barbara Cleveland and solo, is playful, at times comical, and always provocative. She asks us to look twice at our surroundings and consider what we know of them, who has been before us and who will follow. We are excited to see her unique interpretation of PICA.”

Baker Smith will visit PICA in the coming months to undertake research towards her commission, which will launch in February 2024 and remain in place for one year.

Diana Baker Smith is an Australian artist based on Gadigal land in Sydney. Her artistic practice is collaborative, research driven, and underpinned by feminist methods. Her recent projects en­gage with art historiography and its fictions, spanning moving image, performance, photography and text. They include She Speaks in Sculpture (UTS Art Gallery, Sydney, 2022), The Lost Hour (Contemporary Art Tasmania, Hobart, 2022), Tasks yet to be composed for the occasion (Artspace, Sydney, 2021) and Opening Night (National Gallery of Australia, 2020).

She is currently working on a solo exhibition for Penrith Regional Gallery engaging with the archive and former home of the Australian modernist artist Margo Lewers. Baker Smith is a member of the art collective Barbara Cleveland, whose works are held in collections including Artbank, Museum of Contemporary Art, Monash University Museum of Art, Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art, and Art Gallery of NSW. Diana holds a PhD from the University of NSW, where she is a Lecturer in Fine Arts in the School of Art and Design.

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PICA announces 2024 Judy Wheeler Commission artist Diana Baker Smith

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