Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)
28 Nov 2002 to 23 Feb 2003
Aleks Danko, John Dunkley-Smith, Farrell & Parkin, Fiona Foley, Antony Hamilton, Robert Hunter, Kutuwulumi Purawarrumpatu (Kitty Kantilla), Peter Kennedy, Bea Maddock, Max Pam, George Popperwell, Michael Riley, William Seeto, George Tjungurrayi, John Wolseley, Judith Wright, Jurek Wybraniec
Rachel Kent, Russell Storer, Vivienne Webb
MERIDIAN: Focus on contemporary Australian art set out to map the social, political and environmental observations of 17 artists who hailed from diverse parts of Australia. The exhibition had an emphasis on established artists who had a sustained exhibiting career of ten years or more, with each artist represented in some depth by a substantial work or body of works. United by their engagement with the forces that shape the world we live in, these artists proposed meditations on place, gender, Indigeneity and the body. Individual voices shone in a cacophony of cultural critique.
John Wolseley’s delicate mappings of the Australian landscape and its endangered flora and fauna proposed an understanding of the role that place plays in the formation of identity which was radically different to the politically charged work of Aboriginal Australian artist Fiona Foley, however both were riffing on themes of colonisation, industrialisation, land and loss. Likewise, the works of Aleks Danko and George Tjungurrayi could be read as two sides of the same coin. Tjungurrayi’s expansive Western Desert canvases provided the rural foil to Danko’s satire of suburbia; allowing a multiplicity of understandings to be achieved throughout the exhibition.
Along with place, the body was a locus for critique in this exhibition. Farrell & Parkin, Peter Kennedy and Kutuwulumi Purawarrumpatu (Kitty Kantilla) addressed the fragility of corporeality, touching on themes of intervention, mortality and mourning. Other artists sought to transcend the physical limitations of the human form, shifting away from the figurative and embodying the human spirit through colour and form.