The Impact of Care in Art Institutions

8 December 2021, 5:00:00 am

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Session Convenors

Alexandra Gregg, Art Gallery of NSW
Evgenia (Jenny) Anagnostopoulou, Art Gallery of NSW

Session Moderators

Alexandra Gregg, Art Gallery of NSW
Evgenia (Jenny) Anagnostopoulou, Art Gallery of NSW

Session Speakers

Tian Zhang, Independent curator and writer
Wesley Shaw, Yuin/Dharawal/Ngarigo, Art Gallery of NSW
Erin Brannigan, University of NSW
Carolyn Murphy, Art Gallery of NSW
Pip Wallis, National Gallery of Victoria

Art institutions, which traditionally focus on object-centric notions of caretaking, are increasingly shifting to align with recent discourses around care that’s predicated on principles of inclusivity, engagement, collectivity and empathy. ICOM’s recent attempt to redefine the museum and locate its values in ‘human dignity and social justice’ points to this shift, and by failing to reach a consensus, demonstrates the ethical dimensions of this position. What is the role of art and our cultural institutions in shaping and challenging the practices of caring for each other? And as the urgencies of the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter and Indigenous sovereignty movements propel the rhetoric of care forward, how do we trace its impact? In this session, we look specifically at the role of the art institution and the sites at which practices of care for one another are enacted and not. Tian Zhang proposes a more radical form of care through renewed curatorial methodologies, while Wesley Shaw discusses a framework based on cultural care and Indigenous practices. Erin Brannigan, Carolyn Murphy and Pip Wallis reflect on new models of knowing and caretaking that best support choreographic and dance practices in museums.

PAPER #1
Curatorial process as care methodology

PRESENTER
Tian Zhang, Independent curator and writer

The rhetoric around care in the arts has become something of a contradiction. In the past year we have seen art institutions talk publicly about health and wellbeing whilst letting go of casual workers and sending out statements that Black Lives Matter without addressing their own systemic inequalities. Considering their colonial origins, I will discuss how art institutions are, by design, not equipped for care work. The second part of this presentation will focus on how curatorial methodologies of selection, balance and conservation, if applied appropriately to the institution itself, can facilitate radical care. I will draw on examples from the sector as well as my own experiences as a curator, arts worker and founding co-director of Pari, a collective-run gallery in Parramatta.

PAPER #2
Care for Country, Care for Self: Vessels of Balance

PRESENTER
Wesley Shaw, Yuin/Dharawal/Ngarigo, Art Gallery of NSW

As our nation’s major cultural institutions endeavour to champion Indigenous arts and cultural excellence, Indigenous leadership methodologies increasingly inform how these institutions reimagine the way we care for diverse audiences. In response to New South Wales’ growing number of Indigenous youth in custody and using the example of Djamu Youth Justice at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, this presentation proposes a culturally responsive framework for arts programming based on notions of caring for Country and caring for self. Djamu Youth Justice offers a project-based model that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in the New South Wales Youth Justice System. In this paper, I focus on The Water Carrier Project, the latest iteration of Djamu Youth Justice. This program brings together Yuwaalaraay artist Lucy Simpson, Yuwaalaraay educator Priscilla Strasek and Murrawarri/Yorta Yorta artist Tom Barker to collaborate on a six-week project at Reiby Youth Justice Centre. Referencing a historical object held in the British Museum, participants will produce timber water carriers. Informed by elemental relationships between fire and water, freshwater and saltwater and gendered cultural responsibilities, the object becomes a vessel for participants to understand ways in which Country teaches us how to remain balanced within self.

PAPER #3
Precarity and Practices of Care for Dance and the Museum

PRESENTERS
Erin Brannigan, University of NSW
Carolyn Murphy, Art Gallery of NSW
Pip Wallis, National Gallery of Victoria

This co-authored presentation addresses the role of artists and art institutions in articulating systems of care in the specific case of choreographic work, reporting back on research undertaken by the Precarious Movements research group in 2021. The field of work at the centre of this project is dance as a contemporary art media. Regarding our key term ‘precarious’, one question has framed our work this year; is dance an inherently precarious art form? ‘Precarious movements’ is a phrase used by French choreographer Boris Charmatz in his Manifesto for a National Choreographic Centre – a Museé de la Danse in which he positions precarity as a potentially generative source. This focus on precarity has a bearing on the key aim of our research which is to uncover artist perspectives on the interdisciplinary terrain of the dance-gallery liaison. Our work seeks to explore new models of knowing and caretaking that best support choreographic and dance practices – artists, social networks, histories, futures and audiences – when such works are commissioned, presented, collected and conserved by museums. Some of our associate artist researchers include Angela Goh, Agatha Gothe-Snape, Jo Lloyd, Amrita Hepi and Victoria Hunt amongst others.

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Biographies

Alexandra Gregg, Art Gallery of NSW

Alexandra Gregg is a senior programs producer in research and interpretation at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Working on Gadigal land, she produces educational content around the Gallery’s exhibitions and collections, organises public and educational programs and supports audience research. She has contributed to exhibition publications and lectured in the field of modern and contemporary art. Previously she worked at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.


Evgenia (Jenny) Anagnostopoulou, Art Gallery of NSW

Evgenia (Jenny) Anagnostopoulou is a curator and programmer from Athens, Greece, working on Gadigal land. She is an assistant programs producer at the Art Gallery of NSW and a Masters of Fine Art (Curating) candidate at the University of NSW where she also teaches. Her interests lie in artistic and institutional forms of resistance and alternative methods of knowledge production. She has previously organised curatorial projects at Firstdraft and Kudos Gallery, undertaken studies at BAK (Netherlands) and held positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Biennale of Sydney.


Tian Zhang, Independent curator and writer

Based in Sydney on Darug Country, Tian Zhang is an award-winning curator and changemaker working at the intersections of art and cultural practice. With more than ten years’ experience producing culturally attentive and site responsive projects, her work has been seen at Sydney Festival, Brisbane Festival, Customs House Sydney, Carriageworks, Blacktown Arts, Parramatta Artists’ Studios and Fairfield City Museum & Gallery. Tian is a founding co-director of Pari, a new artist-run gallery and community space for Parramatta. She is currently a board member of Utp and was formerly Chair and co-director of Firstdraft.


Wesley Shaw, Yuin/Dharawal/Ngarigo, Art Gallery of NSW

Programs Producer, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Wesley collaborates with curators, artists, educators, public programmers, archivists, communities and numerous external partners to deliver the Gallery’s Djamu Metropolitan, Regional and Youth Justice programs with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Greater Sydney and regional New South Wales. Wesley graduated with a Bachelor of Art Education in 2013 and is currently completing a Masters of Curating and Cultural Leadership at the University of New South Wales: Art & Design.


Erin Brannigan, University of NSW

Dr. Erin Brannigan is Associate Professor in Theatre and Performance at the University of New South Wales and works as a writer, academic and curator. Her academic publications include Moving Across Disciplines: Dance in the Twenty-First Century (Sydney: Currency House, 2010), Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011) and Bodies of Thought: 12 Australian Choreographers, co-edited with Virginia Baxter (Kent Town: Wakefield Press, 2014). She has published various chapters and articles in film, performance and dance journals and anthologies. Her current research projects are The Persistence of Dance: Choreography, Art and Experimental Composition (a monograph), New Paradigms for Performance Pedagogies (UNSW T&L Grant with Bryoni Trezise) and Dancing Sydney : Mapping Movement : Performing Histories (Linkage project with Julie-Anne Long and Amanda Card).


Carolyn Murphy, Art Gallery of NSW

Carolyn Murphy is the Head of Conservation at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Carolyn’s research interests include investigating the ways in which museum and conservation practices impact artists and their works held in museum collections, with a particular interest in installation, performance and time-based artworks. Previously Carolyn has worked at several cultural institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, the Canadian Conservation Institute and the Queensland Art Gallery. She is a partner investigator on two Australian Research Council Linkage projects: Precarious Movements: Choreography and the Museum and Archiving Australian Media Arts.


Pip Wallis, National Gallery of Victoria

Pip Wallis is Curator, Contemporary Art, NGV where she has organised solo exhibitions by Hito Steyerl, Camille Henrot, and Helen Maudsley, and performance works by Simone Forti, Adam Linder, Archie Barry and Emile Zile. She is a cocurator on the forthcoming NGV exhibition Queer. Pip was previously Managing Editor, XTRA Contemporary Art Quarterly Los Angeles; curator in residence, Chisenhale Gallery London; Curator, Gertrude Contemporary; and Editor of un Magazine. She is a lead investigator on Precarious Movements: Choreography and the Museum, a member of Matter in Flux, and regularly publishes writing in journals and catalogues.


Precarious Movements: Choreography and the Museum is a research project hosted by the University of New South Wales and involving partner organisations Tate UK, the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), and the Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA). Team members include theorist Dr. Erin Brannigan (UNSW), curators Hannah Mathews (MUMA), Lisa Catt (AGNSW) and Pip Wallis (NGV), conservators Louise Lawson (Tate UK), and Carolyn Murphy (AGNSW), artists Shelley Lasica (Independent artist) and Dr. Rochelle Haley (UNSW), and a network of local artists, curators, theorists and writers.