Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2009
single-channel digital video, colour, sound
11 min 45s
Peter Kennedy’s The Gallery A Years uses archival footage and still images to re-configure two light pieces originally shown by the artist at Sydney’s Gallery A in 1970 and 1971. Gallery A was an important contemporary art space, exhibiting experimental work which played a pivotal role in the development of conceptual art in Australia in the 1970s. It was the subject of a retrospective exhibition, Gallery A Sydney 1964-1983, at Campbelltown Arts Centre and Newcastle Regional Gallery in 2009. In the course of researching the 2009 exhibition a collection of slides and a Super8 film documenting Kennedy’s exhibitions were unearthed in a cardboard box in the garage of a former Gallery A director. Their discovery inspired Kennedy to create this new work, crafted from original 35mm colour slides, black and white photography and Super8 film documentary material.
Featuring Neon Light Installations, 1970; Luminal Variations, 1970; Floor Piece, 1970; and Luminal Sequences, 1971, the film reveals the robust experimentalism of Kennedy’s practice, which progressed from static neon light installations to more complex environments involving not only neon but also theatre lights and a slide projector on timers. The Gallery A Years reveals the different character of these exhibitions and the transition in Kennedy’s practice from what he calls “an aesthetic experience” to one more readily engaged with the “intellect”, “temporal patterns” and “visual excitement”. Their moving image reconstruction not only offers insights into examples of groundbreaking work of the period, but demonstrates, through the very particular approach Peter Kennedy has taken in its reconstruction, its contemporaneousness with our current visual culture.
Gallery A was seen by a number of young artists, myself included, as being one of the more adventurous exhibition spaces in Sydney. It was viewed as being on the side of experimentation, perhaps a bit radical and not so ‘commercial’.
Peter Kennedy, 2009