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Southern Exposure: Works from the Collection of the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


20 Mar 2008 to 01 Jun 2008


Eleanor Antin, John Baldessari, Uta Barth, Larry Bell, Jeremy Blake, Andrea Bowers, Chris Burden, Vija Celmins, Kota Ezawa, Robert Irwin, Glenn Kaino, Robert Craig Kauffman, Barbara Kruger, Sharon Lockhart, Paul McCarthy, John McCracken, Kori Newkirk, Raymond Pettibon, Edward Ruscha, Alexis Smith, Larry Sultan, T. Kelly Mason and Diana Thater, Torolab, James Turrell and Bill Viola

Co-Curators: Rachel Kent (MCA) & Dr Stephanie Hanor (MCA San Diego)

about the exhibition

Southern Exposure: Works from the Collection of the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art was an exhibition of works by 26 prominent and talented young artists drawn from the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. Co-curated by Rachel Kent, Senior Curator MCA Sydney and Dr Stephanie Hanor, Senior Curator MCA San Diego, the exhibition presented work from the previous four decades, with a focus on art from California and Tijuana, Mexico.

Encompassing painting and printmaking, sculpture and installation, photography and screen based imagery; this major exhibition offered a unique insight into diverse West Coast practices over the last four decades. Exhibited works addressed a range of issues shaping our world from the 1960s to the present day, from the anti-war movement to social and feminist debates, to the role of the media and advertising in everyday life. A key work in the exhibition, Chris Burden’s The Reason for the Neutron Bomb (1979) comprised 50,000 nickel coins and match-heads laid in precise rows upon the gallery floor, and referenced the fleet of 50,000 sophisticated tanks maintained by the former Soviet Union into the early 1980s.

National boundaries and the flow of individuals between San Diego and Tijuana were mapped out in topographical relief by Torolab, while Sharon Lockhart’s photographs of cleaning staff in an anthropology museum become a study of class and ethnicity, as well as display and objectification.

Other works explored human perception and emotions through the manipulation of light and colour. James Turrell’s immersive environment Stuck Red and Stuck Blue (1970) transformed our awareness of physical space using visual illusion. Jeremy Blake’s Winchester (2002) combined psychedelic colour and distorted imagery to symbolise the declining psychological state of a woman tormented by her family’s past.

Southern Exposure was the first exhibition of a two-part exchange of collections between the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego and the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney. The partnership between the two institutions was based upon a shared artistic focus and strong curatorial interest and the exhibitions drew on the strengths of the two collections.

The second exhibition, Rising Tide: Video and Film from the MCA Sydney Collection, was presented from 22 February to 21 June 2009 at the MCA San Diego, and featured selected film and video works by young and established contemporary Australian artists acquired by the MCA since 2002.