Frances Barrett: Meatus, ACCA, April 2-19. June
I love Frances Barrett’s art. In a 2015 performance, she and a curator spent weeks training for a wrestling match; curator won. Barrett later gave a 24-hour performance in which she could not speak or see, and was included in Barbara Cleveland, a collective that created a fictional female artist from the 1970s. Taurus will see Barrett make use of his performance, curatorial and collaborative approaches, present a sound installation with artists Hayley Forward and Brian Fuata, as well as include more artists to create compositions that respond to “meatus”: an abstract medical definition that Barrett takes as a space between inner and outer, the meeting place of the body and the world.
A Thousand Different Angles, McLelland Sculpture Park + Gallery, Feb. 21-5. June
The Australian sculptor Inge King once spoke of her work as “drawing from a thousand different angles”, and this feeling inspires the spirit – and gives the title to – this exhibition. Concentrating on the legacy of King and Norma Redpath – the legacy of some form of sculptural modernism – the show brings together 11 contemporary artists who have been influenced by the couple, including Fiona Abicare, Natasha Johns-Messenger, Noriko Nakamura, Nabilah Nordin, Louise Paramor and Meredith Turnbull. Like many sculptors, King and Redpath focus on how form interacts with space, and the viewer’s conceptual and bodily experience of this – something that needs to be expanded, illustrating the connections between generations of female sculptors.
Vivienne Binns: On and Through the Surface, Monash University Museum of Art, February 5-14. April
For six decades, Vivienne Binns has been creating groundbreaking feminist works alongside her desire for community-centered art, while at the same time being a good mentor and teacher. Within this work, she has balanced one central study: what is art? This great study focuses on this philosophical question through more than 100 works, but also considers how Binns’ practice is rooted in the real events of women’s liberation movements, and her belief that art is social; it’s about relating to each other in unconventional ways. From her first infamous show at Sydney’s Watters Gallery in 1967, where she exhibited paintings of female genitals, Binns’ practice has explored ideas of surface, pattern and process. It is no exaggeration to say that her work changed the art landscape.
Archie Moore: River Capital Commission 2022, Gertrude Contemporary, August 27-23. October
Questions about personality and how the self is created and portrayed in both fluid and fixed ways, alongside an attention to national stories, are central to Archie Moore’s art. Rooted in conceptualism, the Kamilaroi artist works across painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, photography and video, and considers everything from skin to smell to language. From his well-known flag-based works to his self-portraits, Moore looks at how identity is shaped, from cultural heritage to external influences. A further uncertainty and desire to clarify his paternity and Kamilaroi legacy – shown for example in his move Family tree drawings – is central to his work. From his recent recordings at the 2017 National Indigenous Art Triennial, the 2017 iteration of The National and the 2016 Biennale of Sydney, Moore is a coveted artist – and I’m really excited to see what new work he’s creating with this commission.
Turn over the bush, Ballarat Art Gallery, April 30-14. August
There has recently been a tinge of overwhelming Australian Impressionist shows presenting paintings of the bush and the early settlers – all without any complication of feminist or colonial stories hidden beneath these images. Turns the bush can be a remedy against this, recognizing how the “bush” has been manufactured as a male domain. It will present works by female photographers along with Impressionists to consider not only how the landscape changes but also our perception of it. The show explores Australia’s conventional nation – forming myths through gender, class, migration and colonialism and includes impressionists such as Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton and Jane Sutherland along with photographs by Fiona Foley, Nici Cumpston, Polixeni Papapetrou, Jill Orr, Maree Clarke and more.
Queer, NGV, March 10-21. August
Queer, as the theorist bell hooks wrote, is about “being about the self, which is at odds with everything around it and must invent and create and find a place to talk and thrive and live”. This understanding of queer is in part the basis for the National Gallery of Victoria’s first major show in 2022, which spans several historical epochs and decades. It includes more than 400 works of art that illustrate or contain queer stories, especially those that may have been suppressed due to prejudice or discrimination. Across various media, the show takes queer as an expression of sexuality, as well as a political movement and a sensibility, with highlights such as Ponch Hawkes’ incredible images of the Gay Liberation Movement in Melbourne and Leigh Bowery’s highly stylized, cross-border fashion.