Khaled Chamma, Kaijern Koo, Indra Liusuari, Anton Pulvirenti, Steven Rhall, Leen Rieth, Salote Tawale, Susan Te Kahurangi King, Christian Thompson and Mira Oosterweghel with Yarra Youth Services
17 June → 12 Aug 2023
Unison Artist Talks, 29 July, 4 – 5 am
Unison Symposium, 5 Aug, 1 – 5 am
Drawing from West Space’s 30 year story, Unison re-presents the work of key figures from our program, alongside practices from artists based locally, interstate and in Aotearoa, who have yet to be contextualised within Melbourne's arts ecology.
Underpinned by the idea that people are creative before they are artists, Unison positions the work of contemporary artists and art spaces within a conversation that extends beyond art history, reflecting upon the organisation’s past to consider the shifting identity and responsibilities of artist-led initiatives today.
Supported by materials from our archive that trace changes within West Space and its community over time, the exhibition looks to trouble a conventional understanding of who can make and present art, and as such, who our public art spaces serve.
Against the ambient uncertainty pervading the realities of artists and artistic organisations across the continent, each of the contributions to Unison embody a proactive attitude towards time, resources and creativity, one that challenges the social and economic conditions under which contemporary cultural production feels possible. Their work speaks directly and poetically to the question, “How do we want to spend our time creatively today?”
Curated by Sebastian Henry-Jones, Unison features Khaled Chamma (Vic) Kaijern Koo (Vic), Indra Liusuari (Vic), Anton Pulvirenti (NSW), Steven Rhall (Vic), Leen Rieth (NSW), Salote Tawale (NSW), Susan Te Kahurangi King (NZ), Christian Thompson (Vic) and Mira Oosterweghel with Yarra Youth Services (Vic). Poster design by Alex Tanazefti.
Read On the importance of breaking rules by Sebastian Henry-Jones.
Unison Artist Talks, Sat 29 July, 2—3pm. Hear from artists Khaled Chamma, Kaijern Koo, Indra Liusuari, Mira Oosterweghel.
Unison Symposium, Sat 5 Aug, 11am—3pm. Performances and discussions that expand on the ideas within the exhibition. Book your place.
Khaled Chamma lives and works in Naarm (Melbourne), Australia. Born in 1992 to immigrant parents, he is Syrian Australian and lived in Syria for the middle ten of his thirty years. Ideas of zoology, politics, translation, nature, science fiction and pop culture are interwoven throughout his poignant work. Khaled earnt a Diploma of Visual Art from RMIT in Printmaking (2013); and a Bachelor of Fine Art from RMIT in Expanded Studio Practice (2020).
Kaijern Koo. Buried deep in an endlessly shifting reality, I scrape my way onwards in a practice of blind archaeology, hunting for moments of conviction. Some gems glitter brighter than others – the colourful enthrallment of children’s TV shows, the dizzyingly ornate style of the Baroque – and these scattered stones are the ones I pluck and stow. Over time, a logic is founded, a reality carved out with the collection of these strange artefacts. Findings are transcribed across time and matter as more and more is gleaned, bound together with this bumbling seam that can do little more than skirt the parameters of decisive conclusion; agonisingly, delightfully, eternally becoming.
Indra Liusuari is an interdisciplinary artist and a student of architecture whose practice includes audio-visual media, documented performances, site-interventive installations, and publications. Conceptually, Liusuari is focused on critical discourses around the presence of white supremacy in the gay subculture and the gentrification of ethnic enclaves, which manifest via absurdist exaggeration and satirical self-exotification. Brutalist architecture and industrial design, audio-visual remnants of the 1980s and 1990s, and the underground rave scene have become paramount influences in their practice.
Anton Pulvirenti works across drawing, painting, 3D illusions, murals and cartoons. He won the title of ‘Champion Pavement Artist’ at Chalk Urban Art Festival in Sydney in 2007 & ‘Highly Commended’ in 2010. In 2012 he travelled to Italy to represent Australia at the 40th anniversary of world’s original and most prestigious street painting festival Incontro Nazionale dei Madonnari.
Steven Rhall is a post-conceptual artist operating from a First Nation, white-passing, cis male, positionality. Rhall's interdisciplinary practice responds to the intersectionality of First Nation art practice and the Western art canon. He interrogates modes of representation, classification and hierarchy using installation, performance, process lead methodologies, 'curatorial' projects, sculpture, and via public & private interventions.
Leen Rieth is an artist and researcher living and working in Warrang Sydney. Their work is about trans experience, institutional narratives, and arts organising. They have identified parallels in these contexts relating to autonomy and self determination, perception and shared realities, and affirmation and futurity. They mess with the physical aspects, processes, and narratives in and around art institutions including art collectives, exhibitions, art schools, collections, and residency programs. Leen is particularly focused on interdependencies of people, procedures, policies and structures, automated systems and physical infrastructure.
Working across performance, moving image, painting and installation, Salote Tawale probes ideas of self-representation, humorously challenging stereotypes and presenting nuanced articulations of the complex negotiations around identity as a Fijian woman living in Australia. Tawale’s recent works expand these concerns, acknowledging the growing significance of indigenous knowledge systems to individuals living in the diaspora in navigating this particular time and space.
Susan Te Kahurangi King, a highly acclaimed self-taught artist from Aotearoa/New Zealand, has been creating extraordinary drawings prolifically and skillfully since her childhood in the mid 1950s. Susan’s work can be found in a number of national and international collections including, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York, American Folk Art Museum, the Chartwell Collection (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki) and the Wallace Arts Trust, New Zealand.
Susan Te Kahurangi King appears courtesy of Robert Heald Gallery.
Christian Thompson’s work explores notions of identity, cultural hybridity, and history — often referring to the relationships between these concepts and the environment. Formally trained as a sculptor, Thompson’s multidisciplinary practice engages mediums such as photography, video, sculpture, performance, and sound.
Christian Thompson appears courtesy of Sarah Scout Presents.
Mira Oosterweghel is a queer interdisciplinary artist living and working on unceded Wurundjeri land in Naarm Melbourne. They use performance, video, collage, text, sound and sculpture as methodologies of research to explore embodiments of systems of power, queer affect, and corporeality.