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Museum makes pitch for contemporary art

22 June 2005

An exhibition exploring the history of contemporary Australian art is on show at the Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) at Monash's Clayton campus.

Ti Parks, 'The Tent' 1968 (1980 reconstruction), Art Projects 1980, courtesy the artist and Charles Nodrum Gallery Melbourne.

The exhibition, Pitch Your Own Tent, examines contemporary art through the activities and practices of three influential artist-run spaces in Melbourne.

It focuses on selected works by more than 50 artists that were presented at each of the spaces over a particular period.

The works reveal changing ideas, forms, modes of display and material culture, and represent three distinct generations of artistic practice -- avant-garde, experimental and innovative contemporary art.

The artist-run spaces featured are:

  • Art Projects, 1979--84, established by John Nixon

  • Store 5, 1989--1993, established by Gary Wilson and Kerrie Poliness

  • 1st Floor, 1994--2002, established by David Rosetzky.

Pitch Your Own Tent curator and MUMA artistic director Mr Max Delany said the exhibition underlined the important role artists have played as curators, small-press publishers, activists, advocates and impresarios.

"Pitch Your Own Tent presents the work and ideas of artists who have made significant and lasting contributions to contemporary Australian art during the period, or are strongly representative of innovative visual arts culture at the time," Mr Delany said.

"The exhibition, by exploring the rich history and continuing vitality of artist-run initiatives in Australia, and focusing on communities of artists, their practices, social interactions and cultural milieus, contends that it is the artists themselves who are principally responsible for the way in which contemporary art practice is interpreted and art history is written."

The title, Pitch Your Own Tent, makes reference to French artist Gustave Courbet, who pitched his own tent in front of the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris. It also represents the 'perpetually provisional' and generally itinerant nature of artist-run spaces.

To coincide with the exhibition, MUMA will publish an extensive catalogue featuring essays by Carolyn Barnes, Max Delany, Robyn McKenzie, Andrew Hurle, Tessa Dwyer, Danny Huppatz and Sarah Tutton.

Pitch Your Own Tent is on display until 27 August. For further information, visit the MUMA website.