See what's on at the

Browse What's On

– Highlights

Mca Collection

MCA Collection

29 Mar - 31 Dec

Biennale Of Sydney

20th Biennale of Sydney

18 Mar - 05 Jun


Telling Tales

02 Jun - 09 Oct

Create and Learn at the

All Learning Programs

– Learning Events


Art Safari

27 May, 1.00pm, Level 3: National Centre for Creative Learning


For Artists

29 May, 2.00pm, Level 2: Veolia Lecture Theatre

Special Event

MCA Zine Fair 2016

11 Jun, 10.00am, MCA

Find out more about the

About the MCA

– News from inside the MCA

ARTBAR and Vivid meet again

Dipped in colour and drenched in light, we hand the paintbrush over to Huseyin Sami to curate this month’s MCA ARTBAR as it collides with Vivid Sydney. more

Go-go Dance: from 60s Twist to Sydney

Let’s twist! Artist Bridie Connell talks history of 60s Go-go dance & where it’s at in Sydney today more

Visual arts sector United over funding cuts

Australia Council’s recent announcement that 65 organisations will no longer receive funding under its Four-Year Funding program (previously Key Organisations), delivering a major blow to our contemporary visual arts sector. more

View the Collection

Browse Collection

– Spotlights from the collection online

Volume One: MCA Collection

Works from the MCA Collection

Collection Artist Interviews

Watch our latest interviews in the MCA Video Portal

Joint acquisitions by MCA and Tate

The Program promotes Australian art globally, helping Australian artists reach new audiences.

James Newitt

Saturday Nights 2007

Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Andrew and Cathy Cameron, 2012

party lights, single-channel digital video, colour, sound, 10min 20sec

10 min 20s

About the Artwork

James Newitt made a dramatic shift in his art-making when he decided to develop a practice that explored social conditions beyond the studio in ways that would implicate him as an active participant in the circumstances of his subjects. Contact and immersion are key words: his video, photographic and public art projects are the result of longer processes of engagement and research. Saturday Nights (2007) for example, reflects elements of the recent history of the Tasman Peninsula on Tasmania’s South Coast. Saturday Nights is a project that could not have happened without the artist understanding how that community functioned and related. Newitt’s work is the culmination of shared experience: as with any portrait, the focus on the dancehall – the hub of the small town – relied on interaction and trust.

Typical of the artist’s camera work and documentary style is the tension created between what seems to be staged and what is real. While the artist is interested in the documentary form and the potential that it offers, he is uncomfortable about the idea of working purely within the realm of documentary. He is more interested in the problems, possibilities and ideas that emerge when fiction and documentary are explored simultaneously. Newitt does not consider reality and fiction as binary concepts. Rather his aim is to create a conflated sense of fiction and reality where the viewer is drawn into a narrative and then compelled, through the material provided, to construct his/her own conclusion about a particular story or situation.

In front of the camera, as Newitt is aware, the ‘subject’ can be vulnerable to the manipulation of the artist. Sensitive to the issues involved when working with other people, their stories and experiences, he has commented:

‘I try to be aware of this potential vulnerability with the works I make and develop strategies for negating it or at least acknowledging it … I’m aware of the privileged position my own background and identity places me in. When I make work that incorporates other people’s stories or experiences I’ve always remained personally connected or implicated in the situation, sometimes I try to create a situation where there is mutual vulnerability between both the ‘subject’ and ‘artist’’.


Katie Dyer (curator), Primavera 2010, (catalogue essay and artist Q & A), Museum of Contemporary Art, 2010; Susan Gibb in conversation with James Newitt, ‘Altered State’, Artlink, vol 31, # 1, 2011, pp 48-50

...sometimes I try to create a situation where there is mutual vulnerability between both the ‘subject’ and ‘artist’

James Newitt

James Newitt

– About the artist


James Newitt locates his work in an expanded field of documentary where he utilises media such as video, photography, sound and text. His work uses methods of social engagement and documentary observation to poetically explore the spaces between individual and collective identity, memory and history, fact and fiction as well as public and private space.

Learn more

– View also


Related Exhibitions

In the Shop