The 10th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art

Dr Joseph Brennan speaks with Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art’s (QAGOMA) Curatorial Manager of Asian and Pacific Art, Tarun Nagesh, about the works of ‘The 10th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’ (APT10) – more than 150 artists’ current and future-oriented visions of our vibrant region.

‘The Asia Pacific region is undoubtedly one of the most culturally and artistically diverse regions of the world, and I think one of the most rapidly changing, so it would be impossible to capture this in a single exhibition,’ Tarun Nagesh says about the APT, a triennial project that had its first edition almost 30 years ago and that for this, its tenth outing, encompasses 69 projects with new and recent work by more than 150 emerging and established artists, collectives and filmmakers from over 30 countries.

On a perpetual project like this one, curatorial work is a continual process built on a long and sustained engagement with the region, and with the research and outcomes of one edition helping to form the next. ‘It is in every sense a deeply collaborative curatorial model,’ Nagesh explains. ‘Although the model has changed over the course of its history, the APT has never had a singular artistic director or curator, which I think is one of its great strengths, and draws expertise widely across the organisation and a wide network of collaborators.’

Kamruzzaman Shadhin, Bangladesh b.1974, Gidree Bawlee Foundation of Arts, Bangladesh est. 2001, The fibrous souls, 2018-21 (works in development in Thakurgaon, Bangladesh). Purchased 2021 with funds from Metamorphic Foundation through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation. Courtesy the artists and Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

Nagesh’s Asian and Pacific Art team at QAGOMA led the project, together with Curator of Pacific Art Ruth McDougall and Curator of Contemporary Asian Art Reuben Keehan, who have been working on APT exhibitions together for more than a decade. For ‘APT10’, the curatorial team was joined by Ruha Fifita, Abigail Bernal and Moale James, with contributions from QAGOMA’s Australian and international art teams and external co-curators working on selected projects.

Such a collaborative model invites artist community engagement and nurtures artist-led creations, which, organically, allow new perspectives from across the region to flourish as part of this unique forum. Community engagement projects are a core element of ‘APT10’ with, for example, invited representatives from Pacifika communities in south-east Queensland involved as co-creators in developing parts of the exhibition and related material.

Gordon Hookey, Waanyi people, Australia b.1961, Murriland! #1, 2015-17, oil on canvas 210 × 1,000cm. Gifted by the citizens of the Gold Coast to future generations 2019. Collection: HOTA Gallery, Queensland. © Gordon Allan Hookey/Copyright Agency, 2021. Photograph: Peter Waddington. Courtesy the artist, HOTA Gallery, Queensland and Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

‘APT10’ draws together a wealth of techniques and materials, from immersive multimedia and large installations to textiles, paintings, sculpture, photography, and video. While this might sound like a daunting experience for a visitor, as Nagesh explains, ‘there are a number of subjects and ideas that have been drawn out through the way it is presented, and one of the great thrills of APT is seeing some of these ideas emerge and resonate in very different ways,’ as diverse aspects of the region are brought into topical conversation.

Part of perpetuality is the projection into ‘what’s next’, a key concern in much of contemporary art practice. And it is in this regard that ‘APT10’ is an exhibition with the future in its sights. As Nagesh tells me: ‘multiple aspects of this futurism’ are on show here, with artists looking at histories and knowledges, and reimagining the role and contemporary relevance of both. In terms of individual, audience imaginings of the now and the future, there is something here for all of us – from our individual existence in this part of the Asia Pacific to the discovery of the cultural vanguards of our own region that might, at first, have felt foreign.

‘There are works that range from the intimate to the immersive, projects that draw on local materials and crafts, and those that employ cutting edge technologies. There are also quite a number of projects that bring in older practices and techniques, many of which have important cultural value in their contexts, but which are being revisited and revisioned for new generations of makers and new audiences.’


Dr Joseph Brennan is an art critic, author and cultural scholar based in Far North Queensland.


Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
4 December 2021 to 25 April 2022

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