after the past: ANU School of Art & Design

Joel Arthur

13 Apr - 12 May 2023

What happened there – in the past? Did it stay there, or did it leak out infecting everything we see and do now? Did it happen to you, or to me, or to all of us? Should we be trying to forget it, or are we celebrating its endless return? What makes a past? The artists in this exhibition share a past as undergraduates at the School of Art & Design. Their work addresses cultural memories, lived experiences, and material agency to explore collective identities and actions. They are not focussed on the past of History, but rather on attention and care of overlooked and unstable situations and relationships.

The works in after the past have been made now, in a period that is sometimes referred to as the Advanced Contemporary, a phrase which suggests being ahead, instead of after something. The phrase also implies complexity, advanced thinking and picturing, and the ways that art engages multiple perspectives. Gone, then are the strategies of building identity through direct representation of people, landscapes and situations. In their place are the approaches used by the artists in the exhibition to bring audiences into extended conversations with objects, images, texts that foreground dialogues between artists and the world.

Looking around the room you can see a range of material approaches from those focused on direct relationships with the hand such as crafted glass objects, gestural drawings, and paintings to those that use cameras and other digital tools and processes to generate work. In this way these artists’ works enact the questions common to many contemporary artists grappling with what comes after the safety and order of medium specificity. Can a painting or drawing be a documentation of a performance? Can our bodies feel an object when we can only touch it with our eyes? Can a photo show us an emotional truth? Can a video and its attendant request of time, bring the audience to an embodied emotional present?
after the past invokes time – time spent in the creation of the work, history under question, and audience attention. Dr Raquel Ormella – Senior Lecturer – ANU School of Art & Design

Joel Arthur | Esther Carlin | Bryan Foong | Louis Grant | Aidan Hartshorn | Alex Hobba | Jacquie Meng | Belle Palmer

School of Art & Design Gallery, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences, The Australian National University
Cnr Liversidge St & Ellery Cres, Acton ACT