Drawn entirely from the Museum’s Collection, Today Tomorrow Yesterday considers the impact of the past and the influence of history on artistic practice today. From contemporary interpretations of ancestral stories to the continuing effects of early to mid-twentieth-century avant-garde ideas, each room presents a different perspective on the history of the present.
The title, Today Tomorrow Yesterday, is an adaptation drawn from The Prophet, a book of 26 prose poetry essays by the Lebanese artist, philosopher and writer Kahlil Gibran. He wrote: “…yesterday is but to-day’s memory, and to-morrow is to-day’s dream”. As well as reflecting on the passing of time, the title refers metaphorically to the museum’s challenging role in shaping a collection of contemporary Australian art that is simultaneously of its moment and hinged to history. The title and exhibition reference the circular, timeless wonderment of today tomorrow and yesterday celebrating artists deep and ongoing interest in different social, political, cultural and aesthetic histories.
Above all, this exhibition symbolises the guiding principles of the MCA Collection. It is focused on contemporary practices by Australian and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, embraces all media and is motivated by a respect for the creative process and vision of today’s artists. Including work by more than forty artists from the 1960s to the present, recent acquisitions and a number of new commissions, Today Tomorrow Yesterday tells the story of the ever-evolving nature of contemporary art.
Today Tomorrow Yesterday is curated by MCA Senior curator Natasha Bullock
The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran
Lena Yarinkura was born in 1961, and lives and works in Ankabadbirri near Maningrida, a small coastal town in North East Arnhem land approximately 400 kilometres east of Darwin in the Northern Territory.
Yarinkura is recognised for the way her work innovates from within tradition and her experimental use of materials. She is always thinking of new ways to tell stories.
Yarinkura first learnt the technique of string-bag weaving and pandanus basketry from her mother Lena Djamarrayku. Her skills were further developed in collaboration with her husband Bob Burruwal, with whom she has exhibited and won numerous awards.
In the early 1990’s Yarinkura moved away from creating purely functional, domestic objects out of pandanus fibre and started making sculptural forms that represent both the physical embodiment of ancestral beings – the Yawkyawk spirits (young woman spirit beings akin to mermaids) and Wurum (fish increasing spirits) – and also animals observed in daily life, such as camp dogs, bandicoots, spiders, bush pigs and bush mice.
Before 2002, Yarinkura and her mother were some of the only artists producing fibre sculptures in and around Maningrida. Today, influenced by Yarinkura’s example, a new generation of artists from homelands around the Maningrida region use the same materials and employ the same practices to produce their own distinct works of art. Yarinkura’s commitment to sharing her vision and interpretation of contemporary life as a Kune/Rembarrnga woman has created a new artistic space for herself and others moving forward.
Artist Room: Lena Yarinkura is curated by Clothilde Bullen,
Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collections and Exhibitions
Watch our interview with Julia Gorman on her practice and developing the Inside/Out Commission.
For the first time in 25 years the Museum’s former Maritime Services Boardroom, located within the collection galleries, will be reinvigorated by a new commission. This beautiful, heritage, wood-lined room with maritime iconography will be transformed by Melbourne artist Julia Gorman. Gorman is best known for her site-specific vinyl installations using abstracted geometric shapes and sinuous lines. Twisting, entangled patterns of brightly coloured vinyl ebb and flow over walls and gallery floors.
Entitled ‘Inside/Out’, this new space will unpack a comprehensive selection of MCA resources and behind-the-scenes material to support visitors of all ages. It will provide direct access to online content about the MCA’s Collection, along with artist interviews and past exhibition histories. Also on display will be MCA Articulate and MCA App; a touchscreen iPad app that includes a range of new voices discussing the MCA Collection. This app gives visitors the opportunity to see and hear from a wide variety of people including artists, curators, musicians, critics and scholars, who share their experiences of the art on display.
Tour the exhibition with our volunteer guides and discover art, artists and their hidden stories, free tours of Today Tomorrow Yesterday run daily.