Bendigo Art Gallery
We can learn a lot about the present by looking to the past.
If we confine history to textbooks and old photographs, we risk overlooking the ways in which the things that once shaped the world reverberate through our current moment. New Histories,
an exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery, curated by Jessica Bridgfoot, invites 10 contemporary Australian artists to take up precisely this task. The show invites artists, working in media such as sound, film, performance, painting and textiles, to reimagine works drawn from the gallery’s 19th and 20th century European collections. Gabrielle de Vietri collaborates with Bendigo parents to write letters to their children that address their uncertain environmental futures; a response to Thomas Kennington’s 1890 painting that will become part of a time capsule. Pilar Mata DuPont creates
a video installation, in partnership with international artists,
to reimagine Girl with a Cigarette, a 1925 painting by Agnes Goodsir. And Paul Yore and Devon Ackermann, showing under the alias FAMILY FIRST!, take on The Golden Wedding, a grand narrative painting by the 19th century genre painter Carl Hoff. The result, The Birth of a Nation, draws parallels between The Golden Wedding’s creepy pre-empting of Nazi ideologies and the current-day persistence of white supremacy. “Our spectral sculpture warns against mythologising history into a grand, male-dominated white narrative and queries the value systems underpinning the traditional institutions of the church, state and the family unit itself,” the artists say in their statement. New Histories shows at Bendigo Art Gallery until July 29, 2018.
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