Archie Moore, Inchalachee Nation, 2014, linen, 174 x 360 cm
Credit: Courtesy the artist and The Commercial, Sydney

The first artists to be included in the lineup for Australia’s most significant survey of new art have been revealed by the three cultural institutions whose collaboration has made The National: New Australian Art not only possible but extraordinary.

Curators from the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) this week announced the initial nine artists whose work will feature as part of The National, a six-year initiative exploring the contemporary arts landscape beginning in March 2017 and recurring biannually in 2019 and 2021. Drawn from six Australian states and territories, each artist speaks to the curatorial vision of the exhibition to represent works by an array of artists throughout all stages of their careers from emerging to established who practice in a variety of mediums both around Australia and overseas.

The first nine of a further 50 artists to be revealed in December share a spectrum of themes ranging from the interrogation of identity, to our connections with others and our environment – built, natural and otherwise.
At MCA, Perth-based artist Erin Coasts will interrogate extreme or intimate human physical action in relation to built environments through screen based video and installation works; Karen Mills, who lives and works out of Darwin, will use mixed media paintings to explore concepts about identity, connection and disconnection with culture, geology and Australian history; and Melbourne-based multi-disciplinarian Ronnie van Hout (pictured above) will use sculpture, film, photography, embroidery and music to explore ideas of memory, family history and self-portraiture. 

At Carriageworks, Archie Moore (whose work Inchalachee Nation is also pictured above) will apply his cross-disciplinary approach to question his self-described uncertain Aboriginal ancestry, as well as concepts as diverse as racism, language, identity and empathy; Sydney’s Justine Williams will employ Dadaist methods, found materials and pop culture references to revisit forgotten imagery; and another New Zealand born Melbourne-based artist, Richard Lewer, will probe the way that places can become repositories for the psychic residue of shared and individual trauma.

And at the AGNSW, Bougainville born artist Taloi Havini’s video installation Habitat will traverse the topography of her native homeland, where the ecological impact of copper mining is becoming increasingly apparent on both the landscape and those who inhabit and depend on it; South Australian artist Tiger Yaltangki, whose work Doctor Who will be featured in The National, will conflate elements of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands with his love of science fiction and music ranging from AC/DC to Hank Williams; and Alex Martinis Roe, a Berlin-based video and performance artist by way of Melbourne, will present To Become Two –  six video and performance works that explore the origins of a series of interconnected feminist political practices in both Europe and Australia, while evaluating their social currency today.

The inaugural edition of The National will canvass Sydney’s three key cultural precincts – The Domain, Redfern and Circular Quay – from March 30 until July 30, 2017.

Tile and cover image: Ronnie van Hout, To Love and be Loved in Return, installation view at Darren Knight Gallery courtesy the artist, Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney and Station Gallery, Melbourne. Photo by Simon Hewson.