2022 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: FREE/STATE
Art Gallery of South Australia
4 March - 5 June 2022
Curated by Sebastian Goldspink
Free/State assembles a group of artists who are fearless; the provocateurs, vanguards and outsiders – challenging histories and art forms, and in the process, offering reflections on an era of multi-faceted global upheaval. The exhibition explores ideas of transcending states, from the spiritual and artistic to the psychological, and embraces notions of freedom in expression, creation and collaboration.
Delivering new and unexpected visions of transformative personal and public moments, in mediums spanning photography, painting, sculpture, installation and the moving image, Free/State presents a multi-generational collective of artists hailing from every Australian state and territory.
As curator Sebastian Goldspink explains, ‘Each of these artists is emblematic of the many divergent facets of contemporary Australian art. Diversity is embraced and celebrated in Free/State and the exhibition is reflective of a nation still in the throes of grappling with its past and defining its future.'
Abdul-Rahman Abdullah (WA), Serena Bonson (NT), Mitch Cairns (NSW), Dean Cross (NSW), Shaun Gladwell (VIC), Dennis Golding (NSW), Loren Kronemyer (TAS), Laith McGregor (NSW), Kate Mitchell (QLD), Tracey Moffatt (NSW), Stanislava Pinchuk (VIC), Tom Polo (NSW), JD Reforma (NSW), Reko Rennie (VIC), Julie Rrap (NSW), Kate Scardifield (NSW), Darren Sylvester (VIC), Jelena Telecki (NSW), Rhoda Tjitayi (SA), James Tylor & Rebecca Selleck (ACT), Angela & Hossein Valamanesh (SA), Sera Waters (SA) and Min Wong (NSW).
By Bradley Vincent
Wong’s works examine the almost-complete corporatisation of many veins of spirituality and their takeover by the churning world of late capitalism, where they are subsumed into a landscape awash with self-help books, mindfulness centres and wellness retreats. The work is not a repudiation of the need for alternative models of living, but a critique of the ways in which the ideals of spiritual practice are inevitably yoked to the political and social realities of our times. Distorted, diluted and re-engineered for profit.
To achieve this, Wong uses the visual language of various spiritual movements, with a specific interest in the American West Coast countercultures of the 1960s and 1970s, to create a new, immersive environment. These origins are linked to a particular vision of liberation: the desire for transcendence from the neoliberal world. They are also bound up with the psychotropic and the psychedelic. For Wong, a contemporary equivalent may be rave culture, a modern-day site of transcendence and, optimistically, of communal euphoria. She draws also on the aspects of her own life that are bound up with the wellness industry. Her Bikram Yoga practice becomes another source, whereby verbal instruction is transformed into neon words. What Wong is undertaking is a process of assemblage and collage, drawing upon specific, codified worlds to bring them into direct conversation. In doing so, she creates a multi-layered experience: a complex reading of the homogenising forces at play in our world and ultimately of the still-crucial drive to create a better system out of the past. A brand-new way.
The full version of this essay by Bradley Vincent is published in Free/State.
Thank you to Margo Hill-Smith, Ricardo Silveira, Melissa Forde, Oliver Fify fabrications, Nina Pedersen, Matthew Lewis, Jax and Yzzabo Wong.
This project was supported by Australia Council for the Arts