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	Image: Gilbert & George Dig 2005 photograph and mixed media, John Kaldor Family Collection at the Art Gallery of New South Wales © Gilbert & George

The spirit of our age

Art since the 1960s

This new lecture series brings into focus the work of six major artists on view in the contemporary galleries. From British performance artist duo Gilbert & George to this year’s Australian representative at the Venice Biennale, Hany Armanious, each lecture offers an opportunity to delve deeply into an artist’s practice, exploring processes, histories and interpretations. Lectures will be given by some of Australia’s most accomplished scholars and curators, who will join participants for drinks and discussion following the talk.

Lecture: 6pm–7pm
Drinks and discussion: 7pm–7.30pm

Image: Gilbert & George Dig 2005 photograph and mixed media, John Kaldor Family Collection at the Art Gallery of New South Wales © Gilbert & George

Wednesdays, 26 October – 7 December 2011
(except 16 November)

Series subscription
Non-members $100
Members $75
Students $50
Individual lectures
Non-members $20
Members $15
Students $10

Bookings and enquiries: 02 9225 1878


Become a member

Cancellations policy: (click to show)

Duration 1 hour, 30 minutes
Location: Centenary Auditorium

Related exhibition: New contemporary galleries

Contemporary galleries with UBS

The singing sculpture, Gilbert & George and the internationalisation of the art world

Charles Green, associate professor, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne

In August 1973, Gilbert & George presented The singing sculpture at the Art Gallery of NSW and, a week later, at the National Gallery of Victoria, as one of John Kaldor’s famous public art projects. They had combined English good manners with sculptural minimalism in order to become, as they said, “living sculptures” who wished to “treat life in the spirit of art”. A few months later the first Biennale of Sydney opened. Just as John Kaldor’s public art projects had a considerable impact on the evolution of the Biennale, so both were key in the transition to an art world, and an Art Gallery of NSW, in which contemporary art – including the most apparently mystifying, experimental art projects from around the world – has fundamentally replaced the canon of art that had dominated Australia and beyond.

Dr Charles Green is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. He is also an artist, working collaboratively with Lyndell Brown. His books include Peripheral vision (1996) and The third hand (2001). With Anthony Gardner, he is currently writing a history of recent biennales.

Charles Green


Wednesday 26 October 2011 6pm – 7:30pm

Doris Salcedo: memory, feeling, and material

Susan Best, senior lecturer in art history, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales

This lecture examines the work of the Colombian artist, Doris Salcedo (b. 1958). It considers her recent work, such as her Unilever project, Shibboleth (2007), for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern Gallery in London and other large-scale projects such as Abyss (2005). The focus, however, is on the two works by Salcedo in the Gallery’s collection: Atrabiliarios (1992-97) and Untitled (2007). Through a study of these works, this lecture explores the ways in which the artist creates a kind of visceral sculptural testimony for the victims of violence in Colombia and other parts of the world.

Dr Susan Best teaches in the Department of Art History and Theory, University of New South Wales. She is the author of Visualizing feeling: affect and the feminine avant-garde (London: IB Tauris, 2011).

Susan Best. Photo: Ian Hobbs


Wednesday 2 November 2011 6pm – 7:30pm

Motoring through modernism

Juliana Engberg, artistic director, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art

Using Callum Morton’s Motormouth as a starting point, Juliana Engberg takes us on the highways and byways travelled by artists who propose and represent a modernity that exists between art, architecture and the utilitarian environment.

Juliana Engberg is a curator, writer, publisher and designer. She is the artistic director of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne, where she has curated numerous exhibitions including recently Nathan Coley: Appearances (2011), Joseph Kosuth: (Waiting for -) Texts for nothing, Samuel Beckett, in play (2010-11), Mortality (2010), and Gestures and procedures (2010).

Juliana Engberg


Wednesday 9 November 2011 6pm – 7:30pm

Sol LeWitt: design and disorder

Anthony White, senior lecturer, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne

Sol LeWitt’s art often begins with a systemic idea. Ultimately, however, his work undermines the idea of system by giving free play to the disorganisation inherent in visual experience. For this reason, LeWitt’s art cannot be described as ‘conceptual’ if we understand that his work is the pure expression of logical ideas. Although many critics have interpreted these works as demonstrations of rational thought, LeWitt tends to emphasise the gulf between the drive to order, which is inherent in conceptual thought, and the messy complexity of its physical expression.

Dr Anthony White is senior lecturer and research coordinator in art history at the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne. He has also held curatorial positions at Harvard University’s Fogg Museum in Cambridge and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, where he curated several major exhibitions including Sol LeWitt: drawings, prints and books (2002) and Jackson Pollock’s Blue poles (2002). Anthony’s forthcoming book, Lucio Fontana: between avant-garde and kitsch, will be published this year.

Anthony White


Wednesday 23 November 2011 6pm – 7:30pm

The Fine Stagings of Hany Armanious

Blair French, executive director, Artspace

Whether considering the unmoulded lumps and spills of Snake oil (1994) or the finely cast facsimiles of everyday objects currently placed throughout the Australian pavilion at Venice (The golden thread), discussions of Hany Armanious’ sculptural practice tend to focus upon its palpable materiality. But as this talk will consider, with reference to a range of work, including Turns in Arabba (2005), the meticulous staging of forms, materials and processes in space — its condition as ‘installation’ – is equally important to the works’ generation of a rich array of narrative and mythology, of psychological and emotional triggers and cultural associations.

Dr Blair French is executive director of Artspace, Sydney. He is also currently curatorial convener for SCAPE: Christchurch Biennial of Art in Public Space. His recent Artspace curatorial projects include Ho Tzu Nyen: Earth (for the 2011 Sydney Festival) and Paul Saint: Slab (2010). A selection of Blair’s essays are published in Out of Time: essays between photography and art (2006), and a further book – Twelve Australian photo artists, co-authored with Daniel Palmer – was published in 2009.

Blair French


Wednesday 30 November 2011 6pm – 7:30pm

Escape velocity

Tanya Peterson, lecturer, School of Media Arts, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales

Aeroplanes dematerialise into lines of speed, a bride hovers in mid-air, 12 blondes emote a lexicon of grief – in Rosemary Laing’s photographs time is reconfigured into a series of emblematic instants. From Australian landscapes to fields of data, her images explore the shifting terrain of the everyday in relation to the nation’s psyche and histories. Following the collision course between the country’s past and present, this lecture will examine the aesthetic and political dynamics of Laing’s work against the backdrop of Australia’s ever-changing cultural identity.

Tanya Peterson currently lectures in photomedia in the School of Media Arts, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. She is the former co-director of First Draft Gallery and a regular contributor to journals Photofile, Eyeline, Art & Australia, runway, Broadsheet and Column. Tanya is also managing editor of Rosemary Laing: a survey, 1995-2002.

Tanya Peterson


Wednesday 7 December 2011 6pm – 7:30pm