2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Divided Worlds



Dates: 4 March – 3 June 2018
Where: Santos Museum of Economic Botany, Palm House, Adelaide Botanic Garden
Cost: Free

Titled Divided Worlds, the 2018 Adelaide Biennial presents an allegory of human society, one that meditates on the drama of the cosmos and evolution; on the past and the future; and on beauty and the environment.

Delivering new and unexpected visions in mediums such as photography, painting, sculpture, installation and the moving image will be artists from all corners of the country, including four whose work will appear at Adelaide Botanic Garden: Tamara Dean (NSW), Vernon Ah Kee (QLD), Christian Thompson (VIC) Sean Cordeiro and Claire Healy.

Extending across Adelaide’s cultural precinct, North Terrace, the 2018 Adelaide Biennial will be presented at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art at the University of South Australia, JamFactory and Adelaide Botanic Garden/the Santos Museum of Economic Botany.

The 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Divided Worlds runs from 3 March to 3 June 2018 as part of the Adelaide Festival. For further information visit adelaidebiennial.com.au.

About Tamara Dean

See Tamara’s work: 10am to 4pm in the Santos Museum of Economic Botany

Intrigued by the natural cycles of life and death, nature and spirituality, and the role ritual plays in our lives, Tamara Dean creates works of art that investigate the world around her, posing existential questions about life itself and our place in it. Dean’s practice relies heavily on her subjects experiencing and engaging with their environment. Importantly for Dean, the act of direction and observation while on location is a vital ingredient in the making of her work, enabling her to impart an authentic quality to her images, which then become transportative for her audiences.

Photographed for Divided Worlds in the bushland and ponds of the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens, In Our Nature, 2018, follows the seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter to draw parallels between the process of human aging and the cycles of life…Stream of Consciousness, 2018, is an installation-based work of art that aims for a transformative experience. In the centre of the space is a large reflection pool, where an image subtly and mysteriously resolves in the dark body of water before the viewer’s eyes.

About Christian Thompson

See Christian’s work: Christian's exhibition has now finished.

An inheritor of the linguistic ‘shards of the classical culture’ of the Bidjara people from central western Queensland, Christian Thompson incorporates his father’s officially ‘endangered’ language into his soundscape and film works, believing that, while even one word is spoken, a language cannot be extinct.

Thompson’s performances, captured on film, in photographs or scores are fantastical edifices that are not only the husk for the cultural kernel but are themselves intriguing creations, like a spider web inviting the unwary to enter and be entrapped, to reference writer Marina Warner, in this alchemist’s magical aestheticism.

About Vernon Ah Kee

See Vernon’s work: Vernon's work has now finished.

Words come easy to Vernon Ah Kee. They come effortlessly, not only from his life experience as a student during one of Australia’s most corrupt and oppressive state governments, the Bjelke-Petersen era in Queensland, but also through his reading of African–American intellectuals, such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and James Baldwin. These writers alerted him to the commonality of his experience as a black man in a white society.

With his incisive text-based art, Vernon fills gaping holes in the arts and the body politic, both of which are presently bereft of critical discourse. This is where and when Vernon Ah Kee, excels as an artist, an Aboriginal activist and social critic.

About Sean Cordeiro and Claire Healy

See their work: In front of the Santos Museum of Economic Botany from 4-18 March

In Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro’s We Hunt Mammoth, 2015, the entirety of a Honda car has been broken down to 121 individual components, each part tied in jute and bamboo, a traditional Japanese method of packaging. Hanging on the wall, the work evinces a distinctly votive quality, as if this deconstructed vehicle is offered up in an obscure religious ceremony.

Mondo Futuro, 2017, also presented in Divided Worlds, utilises a vintage retro-engineered Mercedes 220S, a car from the mid-1950s, which runs not on petrol or diesel but on a bio fuel derived from a process in which gas is extracted from heated wood…Mondo Futuro evokes ambivalence about technology and about the environment, at once a marvel, but also a profound liability, and what the artists have described as being symbolic of the complex relationship we have with technology and the environment.