Distilling the ethos of a national avant-garde is a daring act, but curator Marissa Bateman’s goal is to accomplish just that in Peripheral Visions: Contemporary Art from Australia at Garis & Hahn. The exhibition aims to showcase the most effervescent artists of Australia’s contemporary art scene, marking the New York debut of the participants. Artists include Australia’s Venice Biennale representatives Vernon Ah Kee, Claire Healy, and Sean Corderio as well as Joel Beerden, Stephen Bird, Nicholas Folland, Dan McKewen, Amanda Marburg, and Phoebe Rathmell.
The works in Peripheral Visions will offer a meaningful departure from the dominant Australian art narrative, which is all-too-routinely associated with landscape painting. Australian-born curator Marissa Bateman discusses the exhibition’s intention and focus:
Peripheral Visions carries multiple meanings and resonances. Most immediately it refers to Australia’s peripheral positioning within the international art market, of which New York is the epicenter. With London’s art powerhouses Saatchi Gallery and the Royal Academy both staging surveys of Australian art in the next eighteen months, it seemed fitting to start this international engagement with the exceptional artistic talent emerging from Australia in the partly Australian-run New York gallery, Garis & Hahn.
The artists were selected for their unique mark making processes with peripheral materials such as Plasticine and LEGO, and the occasion of the exhibition also represents the first time each artist will exhibit in New York — an astounding fact given that three of the artists (Vernon Ah Kee, Claire Healy, and Sean Cordeiro) have exhibited at the world’s most prestigious contemporary art event, the Venice Biennale.
The dynamic dialogue within the exhibition escapes an overarching academic theme and expands on topics such as urban/popular culture, gender, identity, and indigenous/personal history. The diverse and multifaceted work will communicate a picture of contemporary Australia that many international observers may not have seen. It’s a radical rejoinder to more staid conceptions of Australian art today, a singular representation of the country’s contemporary canon.
Peripheral Visions: Contemporary Art from Australia is on view at Garis & Hahn (283 Bowery, Lower East Side, Manhattan) through June 15, with a performance by artist Phoebe Rathmell at 4:30pm on May 15.