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Indepth Arts News:

2000-07-28 until 2000-08-31
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
South Yarra, VI, AU

RENT is a kind of survey of Australian contemporary art ‘post appropriation’. It seeks a way forward beyond the rhetorical and post-structural definition and determination of recent art practice by considering the relations between ideas and form as property relations, or as a matter of proprietary rights.

Rent describes the temporary relation many people have to the things around them. That is, we do not own them and we do not create or produce them from scratch, though we do use and adapt them. It also applies to contemporary art in describing the adoption of certain themes, discourses or narratives which are adapted occasionally by artists for specific purposes.

For example, the idea of artistic ownership is less pronounced today than ever before, particularly following its critique over 20 years, and perhaps especially in Australia where ownership generally is a much vexed issue. Coupled with the disenfranchisement from artistic centres which artists report the world over, 'renting' seems to be a dominant paradigm describing not only a dilemma (in relation to the desire for ownership or creation) but a strategy for a relevant, engaged art practice at the turn of the century.

Sure, appropriation is an international standard of contemporary art practice, dedicating all sorts of forms to new purposes and strategic ends, but it occurs against diverse cultural and geographical backgrounds which imbue these sign relations with particular meaning. And in Australia, it’s all about who owns what.

The artistic appropriation of different motifs, forms and materials is then also indicative of a wider quandary of disputed land ownership, multi-cultural origins and uncertain contemporary national identity.

The exhibition was first presented in March/April 2000 in Copenhagen accompanied by a special Australian issue of Øjeblikket magazine. Its return to ACCA in July/August enables local audiences to consider the representation of local Australian culture abroad in larger, more global contexts — in short to see ourselves through others’ eyes.

Artists included in the exhibition are Philip Brophy, A Constructed World (Geoff Lowe & Jacqueline Riva), Mike Stevenson & Danius Kesminas, Andrew Hurle, Callum Morton, Mathew Jones, Ricky Swallow, Louise Weaver, David Rosetzky, Ah Xian, Ruth Watson, Kenneth Pleban, Kate Beynon, Julia Gorman, Geoff Baker.

Curators Stuart Koop & Charlotte Day

Ruth Watson
The World Interrupted, 1999

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