Women in Art: Women only at GOMA

By Lauren Treiser Firstly, I must confess that I have not visited the Contemporary Australia: Women exhibition myself. However, when I heard about it, I just could not resist writing about it. It is an absolute doozy with 56 female artists presenting their paintings, sculpture, photography, installations, textiles, video and performance. Margaret Pomeranz from At the Movies has also curated a stellar film program which Nathania Gilson blogged about right here on CWC.

There is an excellent interview on Radio National with the curator and some of the artists which begins by explaining the title: ‘Contemporary Australia: Women’. Apparently the show isn’t just about gender but about Australia through the eyes of women. There is currently a lot of discussion surrounding women in the boardroom and and so according to Julie Ewington (curator), it seemed like a crucial moment to take stock of what female artists are doing in Australia.

Kate Mitchell Being Punctual (2012) Video Image from GOMA 

They have utilized the entire building, including the exterior! Kate Mitchell’s video, Being punctual, is projected onto the glass window of the building. An emblem of guts, courage and action; this piece would definitely stop passers-by in their tracks.

Gosia Wlodarczak Window Shopping, frost drawing for GOMA 2012 Performative drawing, pigment marker on glass Image from GOMA 

Then when you reach the doors, the viewer is confronted with the next artwork. Gosia Wlodarczak, a Polish artist who has lived and worked in Australia for the past 15 years, focuses on drawing. Her practice extends beyond typical drawing to different disciplines such as installation, animation and sound.

In Window Shopping, Wlodarczak draws directly onto the glass doors of the museum reacting to what is going on around her. This means that the outcome is not predetermined and is as much of a surprise to the artist as it is to the audience. The process of drawing on glass brings together and separates the audience from the artist through the transparent barrier.

Hiromi Tango X chromosome (detail) 2012 Site-specific work commissioned for ‘Contemporary Australia: Women’ Image from Radio National

Hiromi Tango being interviewed by Radio National Image from Radio National

As you walk past the inscribed doors the next thing you see is a huge mushroom cloud that reaches all the way to the ceiling. Japanese artist, Hiromi Tango, has created an interactive soft sculpture made from ropes of fibers and clothes. Within the material, one can find objects. Tango encourages people to bring along an object that triggers a memory and tie it to the sculpture making it full of stories and emotions.

Ruby Tjangawa Williamson Punu 2011 Synthetic polymer paint on linen Image from GOMA

There is a significant inclusion of Aboriginal artists in the exhibition with a group of seven major paintings by women of the Amata community (in North Sydney). The work is about remembering and came about because of a community tragedy. They lost the boy that they thought was going to be their next leader in a road accident. The boy’s mother is one of the artists.

Fiona Hall Fly away home Image by Sarah Truong

There is something for the kids too. GOMA has worked alongside Fiona Hall to create an interactive installation for kids entitled ‘Fly away home’. Kids can create their own birds and nests from shredded American money and ripped newspaper and add it to the installation. This piece alludes to urbanization and the demise of the natural world. Even though this is meant for the kids, I want a turn!

Brown Council Performance fee 2012 Video, installation and performance Image via Brown Council

I just have to tell you about one more: Brown Council, the collaborative practice of four Sydney-based artists presents Performance Fee, where the artists sit blindfolded on stools against a backdrop that reads: “KISSES $2”. Just like the old fashioned kissing booths found at local fairs, the audience is invited to participate becoming part of the work itself. Anyone for a kiss?

Doesn’t this exhibition just sound incredible! I am hoping to find a cheap ticket online and visit GOMA for the day and I suggest you do the same. See you there hopefully.

Contemporary Australia: Women 21 April – 22 July 2012 Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) Free entry

Lauren is graphic designer and founder of patchyrugs.com.au. She loves all things design (see her blog at blog.ilovelollies.net) and is particularly passionate about fine art, interior design and jewellery. Lauren is currently studying Gold & Silversmithing and doing graphic design on a freelance basis.