ArtBack - Groundswell
5 September – 30 September
Groundswell: Recent movements within art and territory
With accelerating momentum, contemporary artists are shifting the conceptual focus of their practices to address the intensifying crisis of Australia’s diminishing water supply. Alongside scientists and environmentalists, artists have historically presented as some of the first responders to this crisis, bearing witness to its effects through creative expression. Groundswell: Recent movements within art and territory showcases a selection of powerful reactions with particular focus on creeping changes to the Northern Territory’s water supply. It charts these changes by grouping artistic responses thematically into the prevailing resource issues of Access, Contamination, Scarcity and Culture.
Groundswell features over twenty works by Northern Territory artists including Jacky Green, Kelly Lee Hickey, June Mills, Aly de Groot, Patricia Phillipus Napurrula, Lee Harrop, Maicie Lalara, Mel Robson, Jennifer Taylor and Tarzan JungleQueen. The works in Groundswell extend through vast geographies, perspectives and artistic mediums to stake their claim, spanning visualised data to ceramics, oil painting to recycled sculpture and printmaking to stand-up comedy. These works find commonality in their shared determination to bridge the message of each individual artist to our collectively shared concerns as Northern Territory citizens. In this way, visual culture is harnessed to agitate for the paradigm shift we so desperately need if we are to preserve our most precious resource into an uncertain future.
Diverse in aesthetic beauty but united in unambiguous concern for country, Groundswell showcases works of formidable creativity and palpable substance. For this reason, its significance does not lie solely in its lucid demands but lies equally within its art historical context. Through these works we can identify the compelling first steps of an artistic movement in its own right. As streams form rivers, individual artworks combine to form a collective force. A groundswell has occurred.
“As the 2020 SPARK NT curator I am excited to have been given this opportunity to develop my curatorial practice as a regional arts worker. Exploring the dual role of the curator as activist appeals to me. As a SPARK NT curator, Artback NT has provided me with a new platform to materialise these interests through the development of a touring exhibition. As an emerging curator holding strong concerns for my community, I am thinking about what I can contribute and how I can implement tangible change as an arts worker. I see communalism as our only way out if the Territory is to have a liveable environment and sustainable future” said Carmen Ansaldo, SPARK NT curator.
“Groundswell is a timely and pertinent exhibition for the Territory. Social and political awareness of our rapidly changing climate has now reached a tipping point nationally. The narration of art within Carmen’s exhibition will pose poignant questions and engender insight into the prevailing issues of our fragile environment. Curatorial activism brings with it a responsibility. One where the curator uses the gallery as a counterpoint to bring to the forefront the concerns of the artist and the viewer. Carmen has risen to this challenge. She also argues that selected works are the compelling first steps of an artistic movement in its own right.” Louise Partos, Executive Officer, Artback NT
About the SPARK NT curator
Carmen Ansaldo currently works at City of Darwin and organises the Darwin Free University. She has worked in remote and regional art centres within the Northern Territory and Western Australia, as well as major arts institutions such as the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art. Her arts journalism has featured extensively in national and international print and online publications over the past 15 years. Most recently, she represented the Northern Territory within the profession of arts journalism at the 58th Venice Biennale as part of the Australia Council’s Emerging Artworkers Program.
About the SPARK NT Curator Program
This is the third exhibition to be produced as part of the SPARK NT Curator Program, an Artback NT initiative which supports an independent or emerging curator, residing in the Northern Territory, to develop an exhibition project for tour. SPARK NT is designed to foster critical thinking in art and curatorial practice and provide artists from the Territory with opportunities to showcase their work within a curated touring exhibition.