Void

‘Void’ explores the multiple ways in which contemporary Aboriginal artists visually express the unknown as space, time and landscape through sculpture, ceramics, textiles, painting, drawing, photography and video. ‘Indigenous artists are innovative, constantly changing and finding new ways to articulate old ways,’ explains curator Emily McDaniel, from the Kalari Clan of the Wiradjuri nation in central New South Wales. ‘These artists are engaging with art as a visual and a metaphorical means to articulate the complexity of their experiences.’

Artists such as Pepai Jangala Carroll, Jonathan Jones, Mabel Juli, John Mawurndjul AM, Hayley Millar-Baker, Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, Rusty Peters, Doreen Reid Nakamarra, Andy Snelgar, Dr Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher AO, Freddie Timms, James Tylor, Jennifer Wurrkidj, and Josephine Wurrkidj, do not merely define the void as denoting vacancy; instead, they utilise form to represent the
formless.

James Tylor, (Erased) From an Untouched Landscape #10, 2013. Courtesy the artist and UTS Gallery, Sydney

‘The void is a politicised space that cannot be defined as simply an absence or a presence. It is the space between distinct worldviews, which implicates our ways of seeing, understanding and knowing. As a spatial notion, the void holds misconceptions of vacuity and emptiness; a mark of the unseen, the unknown or the undefined. In ‘Void’, this notion stands in opposition to the reality of each artist’s understanding; that the void is always occupied by meaning and contains personal, historical and ancestral significance,’ writes McDaniel in the show’s accompanying catalogue essay. She concludes, ‘The void is a complex space of exclusion and inclusion, definition and deliberate ambiguity. But as these artists demonstrate, the void is always lived upon, navigated and known even as it remains unseen, unknown and undefined.’

Educational and public programming is a key feature of the exhibition and tour, drawing on resources and research produced through the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at UTS, in collaboration with the exhibition’s curator. ‘Void’ is developed in conjunction with UTS Gallery and Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, and presented nationally by Museums & Galleries of NSW. The exhibition is on show at Canberra Museum and Art Gallery until 1 August 2020; followed by Geraldton Regional Art Gallery in Western Australia from 22 August to 26 September 2020, before travelling to Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland until late 2021.

‘Void’, curated by Emily McDaniel, installation view at UTS Gallery, 25 September to 16 November 2018; Hayley Millar-Baker, Meeyn Meerreeng (Country at Night), 2017. Photograph: Jessica Maurer Photography. Courtesy the artist and UTS Gallery, Sydney