Art Gallery New South Wales

40 Years Kaldor Public Art Projects 1969-2009

In 1969 artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude came to Sydney and wrapped the rocky coastline at Little Bay, 2.5 kilometres of coast and cliffs up to 26 metres high. It was the largest single artwork that had ever been made and one of the first major land art projects anywhere in the world. It was also the first of a series of projects realised by art patron John Kaldor.

Forty years later the AGNSW is celebrating four decades of Kaldor Public Art Projects in an exhibition containing archival material, photographs and unique television footage. These ambitious projects include works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Gilbert & George, Jeff Koons and Nam June Paik.

To coincide with this exhibition, Kaldor has invited Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi to complete another ambitious project which transforms the front of the AGNSW.

The artist has transformed the Gallery’s two grand equestrian sculptures by Gilbert Bayes, The offerings of peace and The offerings of war, enclosing them in playful constructions that appear like domestic living spaces. Visitors can walk inside to experience the surreal new spaces of Nishi’s War and peace and in between.

The two outdoor bronze monuments are enclosed by a structure cladded with scaffolding and tarpaulin which give the appearance of renovation works taking place. Initial appearances suggest a work-in-progress, however the visitor is invited to enter the work and experience an unusual sight. The first room, laid out as a domestic living room, contains a coffee table through which the upper body of the bronze sculpture is exposed. The ordinary and familiar context is unexpectedly disrupted.

In the second room, laid out as a domestic bedroom, the viewer encounters the bronze sculpture of a man on horseback. This large-scale monument appears trampling the bed sheets, inches away from the chandelier and towering above the furniture. Here, the public are given the opportunity to gaze on the grandiose at a level which gives these existing monuments a renewed interest. The artist draws the viewer into an environment and confronts them with an unexpected surprise!

MCA: Making it New

Making It New celebrates contemporary art in Australia today. Presenting a diverse selection of works by 18 established artists, the exhibition includes painting, installation, video, sculpture and new media. MCA curator Glenn Barkley has selected artists whose work engages with political and social worlds. These artists also play pivotal roles within a variety of social, historical, cultural and artistic communities.

The exhibition features the work of Raquel Ormella, who presents a series of wool and felt banners with stitched slogans. Ormella’s work investigates the means by which critical reflexivity in contemporary art encourages processes of self-examination regarding political consciousness and social action.

The banners are displayed leaning against the gallery walls and by utilizing both sides of the banner she reveals a conflicting slogan which corresponds to the text but amounts to an afterthought. Omella plays with the idea of a hidden meaning but only by displaying a sewn outline which continues a dialogue which allows her to question her intentions.

Khaled Sabsabi arrived in the culturally diverse suburbs of Western Sydney with his family in the late 1970s as a result of the civil war in Lebanon. Khaled Sabsabi’s knowledge of Middle Eastern culture and politics gives his work a global resonance. He is able to travel and show his work internationally without assistance from an established commercial gallery as an Australian artist.

Suspended in one of the galleries at the MCA is a large, hanging chandelier-like installation titled Coexistance. It displays the flags and logos of the many confessional political groupings that vied for support in the recent national elections in Lebanon.

Australian pop painter Jon Campbell combines the history of local and international pop art with local and subjective motifs. He creates witty and compelling DIY suburban art. For Making It New the artist presents Australian-themed tea-towels hung from the ceiling with paintings on the reverse side. The paintings are text based and depict signs from the high street. Both of these elements reference the mundane and the everyday which are central themes of his art practice. Jon Campbell is represented by Darren Knight gallery.


MOP is an artist-run-initiative. The gallery was set up in 2003 and continues to show emerging and established artists. Three of a Perfect Pair presents work by four different artist collaborations.

Since 2005, Jaki Middleton & David Lawrey have worked collaboratively on a number of projects. Their collaborative practice draws on popular visual culture, art history and cinematic traditions to create works that engage the viewer via optical phenomena, juxtaposition and repetition. Incorporating sculpture, photography, pre-cinematic optical devices and museum inspired displays, their works appropriate iconic snippets of film and video art; re-staging these fragments in new visual contexts in order to observe, break-down and reconfigure familiar narratives.

Both David and Jaki are involved with the Australian contemporary art magazine runway, David as the Assistant Editor, and Jaki as the Managing Editor.

Soda_Jerk (Dan & Dominique Angeloro) are two Sydney-based remix artists working across the areas of video, photo-collage and installation. They work exclusively with found material, recombining fragments of film footage, audio samples and vintage image culture. For this show at MOP they have presented a two-screen projection of collaged footage of songs sampled from the 1940s and 1980s. A playful interaction happens between the two dance eras as Tip, Tap and Toe on one video appear to ‘dance off’ against New York City Breakers on the second video.

Richard Nova-Milne and wife Stephanie, aka Ms & Mr, are two Sydney-based artists. Ms & Mr alter their personal histories by inserting each other into imagery from their childhoods. Ms & Mr begin to ‘create a shared history’ and present a blurred narrative which sees them infiltrate each other’s memories. This process suggests the creation of a ‘parallel world’. A sci-fi futuristic structure houses a home video of Richard as a boy which has been reworked to feature the grown-up Stephanie who is seen interacting with her future husband. Ms & Mr are represented by the Kaliman gallery in Sydney.

Fontana Amstrada is James and Eleanor Avery’s new installation, combining references to rationalist architecture with early computer game iconography, given a bit of an Italian inflection. In 2008, the British born artists completed a residency at the British School in Rome and are currently on a residency in Sydney. Fontana Amstrada continues James and Eleanor’s interest in Rome’s fascist era architecture, merged with a sci-aesthetic.

First Draft : Bababa International

Sydney based artist collective Bababa International have recently been hosting Saturday morning breakfasts in their studio based at First Draft. Each week they set a different menu and provide a free breakfast to all who attend. It is an open invitation event held during their residency at the gallery. We attended two of their breakfasts, one morning they served us pancakes and smoothies and another morning scrambled eggs on toast with tea. All the ingredients are bought fresh that morning from a local market. This event provides the opportunity to transform their studio into a venue which welcomes people and encourages dialogue and social exchange.

Bababa International make a reference to the book The Gift by Lewis Hyde: ‘The market economy is deliberately impersonal, but the whole purpose of the 'gift economy' is to establish and strengthen the relationships between us, to connect us one to the other’.

In the main gallery space Bababa International installed a new work called Soap City. The group had arranged the space to accommodate a factory-style set-up to illustrate a step-by-step guide of how to create soap. Each stage presented in the installation is functional. The process of making soap is illustrated by colourful diagrams which are painted directly onto the gallery walls. The mould in which the soap is set contains a relief of a map which leads you to an outdoor location. We are taken on a group excursion, a short walk from the gallery to find a shower which the artists have installed on the rooftop of a nearby building. Here, you are invited to use the soap and have a shower.

Locksmith Project : Issue 2

Locksmith Project Space
is an artist-run initiative which opened in 2007. It was set up by Kenzee Patterson and Samuel Villalobos. They operate on a not-for-profit basis providing a free exhibition space for artists. Their program includes exhibitions, as well as experimental sound and music nights, and film and video screenings.

This year Locksmith launched an independent, curated publication of local, national and international artists’ ideas and writing. Locksmith Project provides artists and writers with the opportunity to experiment with works-in-progress, initial ideas, research, sketches, plans and basically anything that constitutes making art work. Two of our silk-screen prints were selected and published in Issue 2. Each issue is a limited edition of 500 copies.

Lilies : EP Launch

Sydney band Lilies launched their debut EP 'Teale' at the Excelsior Hotel in Surry Hills at the end of August. Lilies have been described as 'the contemporary Velvet Underground'. Heath Franco (bass and vocals) is the recipient of the Artquest & ACAVA studio exchange and is currently in the UK. Heath is also writing a blog to talk about his experience in London. Jodie Whalen (percussion and backing vocals) has a studio at Parramatta Artist Studios. Tracks from their new EP are currently being played on FBi Radio.

I'm worse at what I do best

The new exhibition at Parramatta Artist Studios has been curated by Tom Polo, a Sydney-based artist. I’m worse at what I do best is an exhibition of ten Australian artists using text and humour to explore notions of success and failure, and in doing so express a corrosive anxiety about the human condition. The works contribute to a greater dialogue in the form of colloquialisms, statements and slogans - often laden with self-deprecation and irony, as a way of coping and relating to personal and social issues.

Simon Pericich, a Melbourne-based artist, exhibits an uprooted signpost on the floor of the gallery. At closer inspection the text on the street sign has been altered. It advises that: IN THE CIRUMSTANCE OF CIVIL UNREST THIS SIGN MAY BE USED AS A BATTERING RAM – IN THE MEANTIME TRY AND BE EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER. This object undermines the authority of the state and presents us with a playful interpretation of upheaval and its aftermath.

Another Melbourne-based artist, Anastasia Klose screens a video entitled ‘Film for my Nanna’. The artist is seen wearing a white wedding dress and walking through the streets of a city. She is holding a handwritten sign that reads ‘Nanna I’m still alone’. The video is accompanied by a melancholy, country-style, love song. She encounters people, some stare, some take photographs and others engage in conversation. At the end of the video the artist thanks her mother for buying her an ice cream and credits her for filming the work. The artist confronts the public by exposing her vulnerability. She becomes a spectacle and questions society’s aspirations and frustrations.

Andrew Frost presents a letter of complaint written about him and sent to his boss whilst employed as a library assistant. The letter is an enlarged Xerox copy pinned to the gallery wall. A member of the public is commenting on their recent ‘unpleasant dealings’ at the library and describes Frost as having a: ‘disagreeable attitude, lack of politeness and unwillingness to help’ and suggests that he be ‘retrained in customer service’ or removed. The artist provides us with evidence of his apathy towards the necessity of a day job. It highlights the tensions surrounding his role as an artist and his attempt to resist the need to conform.
A pocket-sized publication accompanies the exhibition with short stories written by Andrew Frost and inspired by the works included in the show. Andrew Frost is a writer, art critic, journalist, co-founder and editor of