CAPA Spring 2019 Diversity Advocates scholar Kim Corona attends an immersive art exhibit reflecting multiculturalism from Asia Pacific to Brisbane and talks about some of the compelling artwork she came across. Check out the backstories of the renowned pieces and artists she's covered, including Aboriginal, Pakistani, and Thai artists.
During my trip to Brisbane, I visited the Queensland Art Gallery where they held their 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (ATP9).
The exhibition showcased significant art across from the Asia Pacific to Brisbane. The immersive experience provided cultural insight from various perspectives ranging to those of overseas and indigenous folk. To be in a country that prides itself in multiculturalism it successfully showcased the various backgrounds it’s made up of. Through the use of different artistic elements, tools, and perspectives, it displayed what makes the country so diverse. I was enthusiastic to learn more about the different stories from several different backgrounds displayed in the museum.
Hung at the entrance of where the rest of the artwork stood were 21 self-portraits, titled Seven Leaders (series) by Vincent Namatjira. Since 2013 his art has consisted of paintings of significant figures, majority political leaders. The first row showcased the last seven prime ministers of Australia, the second showcases the seven tjilpi (senior lawmen and leaders) of his community, and the last row is the seven richest Australians.
The use of exaggerated details added a layer of humor to these figures who are viewed through a more serious lens for the most part. Through this specific technique, he was able to include his own perspective of how he sees these individuals and how their position not only affect him but Australia as well. The series highlighted themes of wealth, power and influence of those in charge. The focus on these figures allowed for a more open conversation of the individuals who in fact hold power within the community.
Artist, Jonathan Jones, from the Kamailario/Wiradjuri people in NSW, Sydney. Through his artwork, he explores Aboriginal practices and lifestyle. By doing this, he’s able to connect with local communities. Pictured above is (untitled) giran (2018), created by Jones where he collected feathers from various communities he visited by talking to the locals.
The representation of the female body was represented through the eyes of Pakistani artist, Naiza Khan. Throughout her career, she’s created artwork centered around the female body.
At the gallery, her ‘Armour Suit for Rani of Jhansi II’ displayed the clothing items made from armor that displayed the images of heroines and female warriors including themes that evoked beauty and femininity as well as objectification such as corsets and chastity belts. She explored the ongoing issue of the female body and connected it back to history, specifically during the resistance of the Britsh Raj during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The symbolism used behind Khan’s piece stuck to me the most especially with the way women are represented within the media, the societal expectations of how women should look and the struggle of what it means to be a woman today.
The use of fashion continued in the exhibition captured through the perspective of Jakkai Siributr, who explored the relationship between his family and their connection with Thailand’s political history.
The piece consisted of seven dresses which was an ode for his mother. Each of the dress was embroidered from news and family photographs. The dresses hung from the tall white ceilings, where a voice recording of his mother echoed as a part of the piece. The voice recording displayed his mother in her most vulnerable place where she read aloud passages from her personal diary.
Bangkok native and artist Jakkai Siributr focuses his artwork around textiles and embroidery. Much of this artwork centers around erasure of some of Thailand’s history. Pictured is The Singhaseni Tapestries 2017-2018. The dresses made out of found fabrics and images of his childhood were an ode to his mother.
The captivating part of this piece was the inclusion of his mother’s audio recording. Although I couldn’t understand her since she spoke in her native tongue, chills went down my body because for any person it can be extremely difficult to discuss out loud about things you’ve written about for your own eyes.
It was eye-opening to listen and see how these artists were able to share their own stories from different forms of art media and present them for the world to listen. From those who are indigenous to those who traveled to Australia, they’ve all shared the commonality of calling this place their home.
Kim Corona is a junior at Ursinus College. She is studying Media and Communications with a minor in Creative Writing and is hoping to include a Latin American Studies minor as well. She is from New York City, New York, and studied abroad in Sydney with CAPA in Spring 2019.
At CAPA, we seek to foster increased student diversity and to provide all participants with the opportunity to explore, challenge and redefine their identities in distinct ways. Launched in Spring 2017, the Diversity Advocates Program is an extension of this philosophy and provides resources for advocates to pursue diversity initiatives of their own within their global cities.