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The Importance of Laughter

We sat down with laughter connoisseur Shari Coventry from Sydney Laughter to discover the truth about laughter and why we need it ahead of this month’s Laughter Sessions. more

Coming up in 2018…

Next year is one of the most exciting and diverse seasons yet. Find out what’s on. more

Six Films that Changed My Life (for better or worse): Antenna's Rich Welch

To pave the way for the soon-to-come cinema binge at Antenna Film Festival,Co-Director Rich Welch shared a few of his life changing films. more

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Discover Primavera 2014

Discover more about Primavera 2014 with the rich content on this page, that includes curatorial text, installation images and a audio extracts from the artists.

Reflect deeply on the experience with the Primavera 2014 exhibition catalogue available from the MCA Store.

Madison Bycroft

Born 1987, Adelaide. Lives and works between Adelaide and Rotterdam, The Netherlands

For Adelaide-based artist Madison Bycroft the process of unlearning the self can lead to a more empathetic understanding of the complex relationship between humans, animals and objects. Her work explores ideas of ‘animism’, in which non-human entities such as animals, plants and inanimate objects or phenomena are thought to possess a spiritual essence. For Primavera 2014, Madison presents a series of videos in which such ideas are put to the test, often using her own body as the investigative medium. The digitally composed work, Omellas (2012), we see multiple nude clones of the artist exploring the remains of an old building site. Through her performative actions the sculptural qualities of her body become apparent, likening her weight and density to that of a sinking boulder or a crumbling wall and exposing the possibility of an alternative psychological connection to such objects.

Madison is a visual artist working primarily in video, performance and sculpture. She has undertaken residencies at Red Gate International Residency program, Beijing, China; New York Artist Studio and Residency, US; and International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP), New York, US. Madison completed her honours degree in 2012 at the University of South Australia, and will begin her Master of Fine Arts in September 2014 as part of the Samstag Scholarship program for international studies in visual arts.

Madison on 'Entitled/Untitled’ and 'Rag of cloth: Ode to the vampire squid’

Madison Bycroft on 'Omellas’ and 'Nupta Contagioso/Primordial Sound’

Ben Denham

Born 1979, Sydney. Lives and works Sydney

Ben Denham is interested in the relationship between art and neuroscience, and is particularly observant of how we physically embody ideas through gestures. Dimensions of Line (2013) is a drawing machine that uses robotics to create marks directly onto paper by translating electrical impulses from his arms. This removes the artist to a degree from the act of mark-making, thereby opening up a space between mark and gesture that allows for the exploration of new interfaces and ways of experiencing force. The artist’s action hovers in the distance between the interface of what his brain dictates and the final marks made by the machine. In the video works In Flow (2010) and Margins and Commons: Slack Water (2013), Ben subtly acts upon natural and built landscapes in ways that again seek to lighten his touch on the world and reflect on this interaction. In In Flow, for example, we see the artist by a riverside, calmly filling a bucket with water and then hiking up to a higher point of the river to pour the water back down the stream – as if his action were contributing to the drawing of lines made in the mountain by the constant flow of water.

Ben grew up in the Blue Mountains and studied visual arts at the University of Western Sydney. He works with performance and video and makes machines that engage different parts of the body in the process ofdrawing and writing. He completed his doctorate in 2009; his thesis considered the relationship between art and neuroscience, with a particular focus on gesture and linguistic embodiment.

Ben Denham on conscious interfacing

Nick Dorey

Born 1985, Sydney. Lives and works Sydney

Nick Dorey’s work for Primavera 2014 is the culmination of the last three years of his installation and performative practice – a time in which he has investigated the first three stages of the alchemical process. In many of his previous works Nick has used a range of contraptions that activate chemical substances or processes, often creating a confrontation between seemingly opposing forces. In his recent work Ulysses V. Streisand (2014), for example, amyl nitrate was released onto the gallery’s atmosphere, while across the room a clay bowl full of kitty litter absorbed toxins and volatile compounds from the air. Towards the centre of the room an upside-down Christmas tree was suspended over a pool of methylene blue solution inside a triangular structure. To the side there was a pig-shaped plastic tub full of fermenting lavender wine.

Both the materials that Nick uses and the shapes of his structures are laden with symbolic referents, pointing towards the synthesis and reconciliation of distinct and combative forces. The large-scale timber structure which the artist is constructing on-site for Primavera 2014 contains elements that somehow relate or interact with one another, continuing his interest in creating dynamics (some active and some latent) between the work’s different components. In the artist’s own words: ‘the work contains constellations of constellations, webs and networks of ciphered archetypal forms which dance and jostle with each other and the overarching structure’.

Nick was born in 1985 in Sydney and lived briefly in Guanhães, Brazil, as a child. He wasted his school years for the most part. Nick graduated from high school in 2002, had a psychedelic breakdown in 2003–04. He worked in fashion retouching and other karmically unsustainable industries before having a moral breakdown in 2009 (also, they stopped paying him). He began his BVA at Sydney College of the Arts in 2010 and finished with honours in 2013. Nick practises art because it is the closest thing to alchemy a person without a natural proclivity to numbers can hope to be involved with. He is an Installation Artist and works as an Art Installer; sometimes this can be confusing for people.<

Nick Dorey discusses his approach Mikala Dwyer and Clare Wilcox

Caitlin Franzmann

Born 1979, Gympie, Queensland. Lives and works Brisbane

Caitlin Franzmann is inspired by observations of urban environments and how people respond to space and social situations. In reaction to the fast-paced nature and overstimulation of contemporary urban life, Caitlin uses light, sound and constructed spaces within spaces to encourage slowness, curiosity and reflection. In Dissolve, the artist has produced sleek helmets that provide a private auditory experience for their wearers as they wander around the gallery. The audio combines original compositions, spoken word, spatial recordings and found spiritual and ritualistic ponderings. The sound collages are a meditation on the gallery context and an intimate address to the wearer – an invitation to oscillate between interior and exterior space, emotion and response, the concrete and the cosmic.

Caitlin originally trained as an urban planner and in 2012 completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at Queensland College of Art. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Institute of Modern Art, QUT Art Museum and Canberra Contemporary Art Space. In 2012 she was an artist in residence at LEVEL ARI and later joined the collective as co-director. She was recipient of an Australia Council ArtStart Grant in 2013. In 2014 Caitlin took part in the Instrument Builders Project in Yogyakarta and, with the support of the Asialink Arts Residency Program and Arts Queensland, spent three months researching and experimenting new work at torna, Istanbul.

Caitlin Franzmann introduces her work 'Dissolve’

Caitlin Franzmann discusses her work 'Invisible Movements’

Hossein Ghaemi

Born 1985, Tehran. Lives and works Sydney

Hossein Ghaemi combines elements from performance, theatre and the visual arts to create works that address the unconscious, spiritualism and ritual. In Primavera 2014 he presents a single-channel video installation that explores notions of truth being veiled then revealed. The artist – together with a singing choir – attempts to unearth the fluidity and uncertainty of the sonic currents that weave and collide at certain pitches. The performers’ strange, otherworldly costumes augment the work’s theatricality and emphasise the ambiguous nature of the scene.

Hossein presents surreal scenarios via real and imaginary characters. Secrecy and the unconscious, theatricality and mysticism operate as veiling elements in his paintings, sculptures, installations and performances. In 2010 Hossein completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) at Sydney College of the Arts. Since then he has exhibited principally in artist-run initiatives in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart and developed performances for festivals and arts programs in Sydney and Melbourne. Hossein is part of the Sydney-based collective Sydney Guild (with Christopher Hodge and Amelia Wallin). He has been represented by The Commercial Gallery, Sydney, since 2012.

Hossein Ghaemi talks about how an encounter inspired his work and outlines his artmaking approach

Emily Hunt

Born 1981, Sydney. Lives and works Sydney

In the broadest sense, Emily Hunt’s recent work constitutes a physicalised articulation of dread. The sense of foreboding that underlies this existential emotion is inscribed in all the ceramic pieces that she has produced for Primavera 2014. By giving shape to grotesque forms, she confronts this sensation of dread in an attempt to offset and counteract it. Her work is motivated by the desire to cultivate a mode of catharsis by forcing viewers to grapple with the vulgar, the profane and the intemperate.

Emily’s practice is built around an extended investigation into the aesthetics of the grotesque, with a specific research focus on the historical period between 1490 and 1550. The public accessibility of images during this time in the form of printed broadsheets triggered the mass circulation of depictions of violent conflict and sordid hedonism. These grotesque images were originally intended to communicate moral lessons. The widespread acceptance and profusion of this aesthetic code gave artists and satirists a licence to create all manner of fantastical obscenities and pursue their work uninhibited.

For Emily, the grotesque can be conceptualised as a rupture of piety and conservativism. Her work celebrates this rupture. Her engagement with this aesthetic agenda is sensitive to its origins within a predominantly plebeian and secular context. The normalisation of vulgarity during this period provides a platform for comedic content within the lexicon of popular imagery. Emily addresses the contemporary resonance of this imperative.

Emily completed her Honours (First Class) in 2003 and her Master of Fine Arts (Print Media) in 2011 at Sydney College of the Arts. Emily was a co-director of a collaborative absurdist journal called DUKE Magazine (2005–2009) with fellow artist Raquel Welch (Caballero). She has participated in the Kunst-Stoffe residency, Culturia Studio residency and the Zentrum für Keramik residency in Berlin, Germany. In 2011 she undertook an exchange scholarship at Sint-Lucas Beeldende Kunst in Ghent, Belgium. Emily has a deep interest in the history and aesthetics of German Renaissance print-making and caricature from 1490 to 1560.

Emily Hunt introduces her practice

Emily Hunt on the Grotesque

Ishmael Marika

Born 1991, Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory. Lives and works Yirrkala, Northern Territory

The Mulka Project is a production house and archive that aims to sustain and protect Yolngu cultural knowledge in Northeast Arnhem Land. Working there as a film director, editor, media artist and production officer, Ishmael Marika has been involved in various Yolngu cultural productions; these include documentaries about ceremonial events such as dhapi and bapurru, media art projects and has even a short horror film. In 2013 Ishmael produced the video work Wanga Watangumirri Dharuk, which reviewed the Yirrkala land rights movement of the 1960s and 70s. His next project developed after discovering a 1975 recording of his grandfather, who was a key figure in the Gove Land Rights Case, the first litigation on native title in Australia. In the recording, he addresses his sons and nephews, who were at that time only children, urging them to avoid disunity. The artist was struck by his grandfather’s words, especially since his family was in the middle of a bitter argument at that time. He then produced the text-based work, my grandfather passing on a message, in which an English translation of his grandfather’s words runs across the screen alongside the original audio in Yolngu. His latest work, Galka (2014), which is also included in Primavera 2014, is a short feature film about a Yolngu spiritual sorcerer with sinister powers.

Ishmael is currently director, editor and production officer at The Mulka Project in Yirrkala. He has worked on numerous cultural productions for the Yolngu, including documentations of dhapi, bapurru and other ceremonial events. Ishmael is best known for his documentary on Yolngu land rights entitled Wanga Watangumirri Dharuk, which has screened at many festivals and at a private screening with former East Timor President José Ramos-Horta.

Ishmael Marika talks about the making of 'Galka’

Sean Peoples and the Telepathy Project

Sean Peoples born 1986, Melbourne. Lives and works Melbourne

INRI CRISTO is a Brazilian philosopher and educator who claims to be Jesus Christ reincarnate. Having lived 2,000 years ago in Palestine and now in 21st-century Brazil, CRISTO has synthesised seamlessly his past life with his modern life, claiming even his motorcycle as something of a modern-day donkey. INRI’s life transgresses language, time and space while speaking to the meaning and value we give to ideas, people and things. For Primavera 2014, Sean Peoples investigates these themes though a series of sculptures using 3D printing and everyday objects. In addition to the sculptures, Peoples presents a video work in which INRI speaks of how numinous experience and wonder can be transferred in a time when many find religion tied to a past whose magic cannot be updated: ‘In the future there will not be religious art, no one will survive at the cost of religious art. Art will always continue to be something sublime, important, since it is inspired by GOD.’

Sean has exhibited regularly since graduating from art school in 2006. His recent exhibitions include Supreme Universal Order: Alpha of Alpha, Omega and Channel G, both of which tested the conditions of collaboration through fluctuating language, time and space. Sean is one half of The Telepathy Project, a collaboration formed in 2005 with artist Veronica Kent. Telepathy serves as an extended metaphor and working methodology through which they explore alternate ways of being, communicating and collaborating. These projects have been realised in Australia, Spain, France, Germany and India. Together they have undertaken an Australia Council for the Arts residency in Barcelona and a residency at Bundanon Trust.

Sean Peoples introduces the Telepathy Project

Sean Peoples on INRI CRISTO

Alison Puruntatameri

Born 1984, Melville Island, Northern Territory. Lives and works Melville Island

Working from the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory, Alison Puruntatameri began painting advised by her grandfather Justin Puruntatameri. Her works incorporate Jilamara designs, which have a deep familial significance that has been carried on for many generations. These designs originate from a ceremony where a series of ‘yoi’ (dances) are performed; some are totemic, inherited from the person’s mother, and some serve to act out the narrative of newly composed songs. Turtiyanginari (natural ochre colours) are applied to the bodies and faces of the ceremony’s participants, with the varying designs used to transform the dancers and, in some cases, to provide protection against recognition by mapurtiti (spirits).

Alison grew up in the Pirlangimpi community on Melville Island in the Northern Territory. She attended a local school and worked in childcare. She has one daughter, Anette Orsto, known locally as Sugar Plum, who is a great favourite at the art centre studio where Alison paints. Alison and her mother Paulina (Jedda) are both artists, sharing the care of Sugar while one or the other paints. It was Alison’s grandfather, Justin Puruntatameri (dec) – a senior lawman who knew all the songs and remembered visits by the Macassans as a boy – who persuaded Alison to become a painter. Alison would listen to her grandfather’s stories of his own paintings at the art centre, and has continued using some of his designs in her own paintings, which relate to ancestral stories passed on through generations. Alison started painting with Munupi Arts in late 2011.

Barayuwa Munungurr

Born 1980, Wandawuy, Northern Territory. Lives and works Wandawuy

Barayuwa Munungurr is considered a ‘young elder’ by his community for the advice and support he has given to other young artists, and he is one of the rising stars of Buku-Larrnggay Mulka in Yirrkala, Northern Territory. In Primavera 2014, Barayuwa exhibits a group of large bark paintings together with a shelter and other objects carved from timber, such as a larrakitj (ceremonial pole). The vibrant patterns that characterise much of his work originate from his mother’s Munyuku clan designs. They recall an ancestral story that unravelled on the Yarrinya Ocean in which Munyuku spirit men (Wurramala or Matjitji) hunt their own brother, a whale called Mirinyungu. After the dead whale washes up onto the beach, the spirit men used stone knives (garapana) to cut its body into strips and then fling the knife into the ocean, where it becomes a sharp reef. The remains of the whale and the ocean rocks are combined in a spiritual manner which is extremely significant to Munyuku people, and elements from this scene, such as the whale’s tail, its bones and even the lines from the surface of the water, are incorporated as sacred motifs that are employed in ceremony. The presence of hidden forces is a keynote of the Yolngu mindset; the artist often starts painting the designs of the whale’s skeleton, which then disappear, buried underneath meticulously applied patterns of ochre.

Barayuwa and his wife, Whaiora Tukaki, are long-time staff members at Buku-Larrnggay Mulka, where they have provided great assistance to several artists and developed their own artistic practice and skills. In 2007 Barayuwa participated in his first exhibition, at Raft Artspace in Darwin. In 2008 a series of barks by the artist incorporating Munyuka clan designs showed a strength of character and style that led to his inclusion in Annandale Galleries’ exhibition Young Guns II. He subsequently participated in a Brisbane group show in 2008 and had a solo exhibition at Indigenart in Perth in 2009. Also during 2009 he collaborated with Sydney-based artist Ruark Lewis, producing a multimedia installation that was exhibited at the ANU Gallery in Canberra in 2011. He continued to exhibit and collaborate with Lewis in 2012 and 2013, spending three weeks in an extended studio visit leading up to their joint show with Jonathan Jones at Macquarie University. In 2013 his bark in the 30th anniversary of the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award was awarded a Highly Commended prize and was acquired by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

Lucienne Rickard

Born 1981, Lithgow, New South Wales. Lives and works Hobart

Hobart-based Lucienne Rickard obsessively layers strokes of graphite on drafting paper to bring her subjects to life. In earlier pieces she has depicted Tasmanian flora and fauna with incredible precision, meticulously recreating the textural detail of every feather and leaf. Her drawings in Primavera 2014 are from a recent body of work that takes its inspiration from the writings of American author Cormac McCarthy. Working across the genres of Southern Gothic, Western and Post-apocalypse, McCarthy’s dark ethos permeates into Lucienne’s hand-drawn pieces, which depict ‘blood sport’ scenes in which animals such as roosters and dogs are coaxed to viciously fight each other.

Although there is an inherent violence, the works have a commanding material beauty. Thousands of repetitive graphite strokes give the animals an almost sculptural presence; their feathers and coats shimmer, and velvet-like textures are revealed by the changing light. A sculptural work by the artist which departs from a different set of concerns is also included in Primavera 2014. Entitled Movement One, the work consists of two plaster blocks – similar in appearance and scale to sculptural plinths – which have been worn down by the artist by repeatedly rubbing her arms and legs against them while wearing a sandpaper suit.

Lucienne completed her BVA in Fine Arts at the Queensland College of Art (Gold Coast) in 2000. She relocated to Hobart in 2001 and completed her PhD at the University of Tasmania (Hobart) in 2006. Following the submission of her PhD, Lucienne was awarded the Rosamond McCulloch Studio residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris. Lucienne continues to live and work in Hobart and has shown her work nationally since 2010. She was selected for the CAST Shotgun program in 2012, and most recently she exhibited work in the inaugural Sydney Contemporary Art Fair, in 2013. She is represented by Beaver Galleries, Canberra, and Bett Gallery, Hobart.

Lucienne Rickard introduces her work

Lucienne Rickard on why making work must be difficult

Marian Tubbs

Born 1983, Sydney. Lives and works Sydney

Marian Tubbs describes abstract metals, everyday effluence, finger-paintings on silk, gymnastic hoops, stickers, free apps and explicit jokes made for friends as both a list of materials and the allegoric make-up of her practice. Her works, which often juxtapose images of nature with everyday materials, seem to represent a poetics between the material world and cybernetics, and in doing so provide a rethinking of the detritus that is part of a consumption-obsessed society. In the installation she has created for Primavera 2014, for example, hoop systems are used to support delicate pieces of silk in which she digitally prints paintings made with touch screens and sampled internet imagery. Marian discerns the corporeal and anthropomorphic qualities in her pieces, suggesting that objects can sometimes echo aspects of her own body or perhaps even act as an extension of it. Her intuitive use of materials and fluid working processes tests the porosity between the body, the object and the binary world.

Marian’s practice is one imbued with poor materiality and minor aesthetics sourcing from vernaculars of the street and online. Recently she has exhibited at Minerva (Sydney), Artspace (Sydney), Rooster Gallery (New York), Temp Space (New York), UNESCO (Paris) and with the Maldives Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, Italy. She has completed residencies in Paris, New York and Osaka and is a member of the collaborative art group SLUSH. Marian currently teaches in photography and situated media at the University of Technology Sydney and is completing a PhD focused on art that poetically critiques cultural ascriptions of value at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales.

Marian Tubbs introduces her practice

Marian Tubbs discusses the use of text in her work

Paul Yore

Born Melbourne, 1987. Lives and works Melbourne

The bright colours, psychedelic designs and material richness of Paul Yore’s works effectively lure the eye. Although they might at first appear to be innocent and childlike in nature, on a closer look they reveal their underbelly: the works amalgamate sexually and politically loaded images (sourced from adult magazines, pop culture and Australiana) with an overwhelming amount of plastic toys and detritus that the artist finds on the street. Paul is an acute observer, and he collects the culture of excess that he is confronted with, synthesising from its chaotic surplus his own ponderings on gender and identity. Contrary to the workings of mass production, he often spends a long time constructing elaborate pieces in an almost meditative process, as if to counteract the rapid waves of over-consumption around us. For Primavera 2014, he has produced a large three-part tapestry made with felt appliqué, wool needlepoint, sequins, beads, buttons and found objects. Messages such as ‘welcome to hell’ and ‘culture is not your friend’ are woven into the boldly coloured textiles, revealing contemplations which can be playful but also provocative and even condemning. Fundamentally though, they are not simply commentary or satire; they are, in fact, the artist’s attempt at articulating an individual’s existence out of and within the excess of a world that appears to make no sense.

Paul began his art career with a solo show at Heide Museum of Modern Art while still an undergraduate at Monash University, Melbourne, where he studied painting, ancient history, archaeology and anthropology. Paul has partaken in studio residencies nationally and internationally, including at Gertrude Contemporary in Melbourne, Artspace in Sydney and Seoul Art Space GeumCheon in Korea. Yore is represented in public and private collections including at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Wangaratta Art Gallery and Artbank.

Paul Yore introduces his work

Paul Yore discusses 'Welcome to Hell’

Radio interviews

Listen to interviews with curator Mikala Dwyer and artists Caitlin Franzmann and Sean Peoples.

Both interviews are with Frances Barrett, from CANVAS on Sydney’s FBi Radio, and are courtesy of FBi Radio.

FBi CANVAS – Mikala Dwyer

FBi CANVAS – Caitlin Franzmann and Sean Peoples