Dwelling on the outside: searching for folk wisdom to connect to earth
SATURDAY 10 APRIL 2021
2PM – 3:30PM AEST (Sydney) / 11AM – 12:30PM GMT+7 (Saigon)
Speakers: Adam Porter (Head of Curatorial, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney, Australia) and Mai Nguyễn-Long (Artist, Bulli, Australia)
Join us on Saturday 10 April (2pm AEST / 11am GMT+7) for the online panel ‘Dwelling on the outside: searching for folk wisdom to connect to earth’, featuring a conversation between Adam Porter (Head of Curatorial, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney, Australia) and Mai Nguyễn-Long (Artist, Bulli, Australia).
Sharing experiences of otherness, Mai Nguyễn-Long and Adam Porter will discuss how research and respect for ‘traditional’ expressive forms of cultural practices—particularly, folkloric practices—can offer instructive wisdom and help us recalibrate our understandings of contemporary art. This dialogue emphasises where translation and re-contextualisation occurs, and how this knowledge enriches our appreciation of our environment. Adam will explore how these ideas have shaped Mai’s practice, most recently sparked by ‘Vomit Girl’, a character who instructs Mai to re-build wood carvings into naked clay.
Reflecting on Adam’s participation in Re-Aligning the Cosmos, an on-ongoing project by The Factory Arts Centre (Ho Chi Minh City), this discussion will engage concepts of ‘earth’— this year’s chosen element of study—and seeks to examine the role, presence and meaning of the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) in contemporary life. It will also examine how the elements are used in human superstition/spirituality, reflecting on their consumption (or neglect) that in turn, impact the human and non-human world.
This is the second talk in a four-part online talk series, as part of the Australia Council for the Arts ‘Curatorial Associates Program’. The talk is a partnership between The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, and is supported by Campbelltown Arts Centre.
About the Speakers:
Adam Porter (Sydney, Australia)
Adam Porter is an Australian curator of diverse Asian heritage. Specialising in contemporary visual art, Porter lives and works on Tharawal Country in Sydney, Australia. Porter received a Bachelor of Arts (Double Major in Art History and Cinema Studies, and Social and Cultural Analysis) from the University of Western Sydney (2009). He also holds a Masters Degree in Art Curatorship from the University of Sydney (2010).
Porter is currently the Head of Curatorial at Campbelltown Arts Centre and was previously, Curator of Contemporary Visual Art (2017-19). Prior to this, he was Head of Curatorial (2017) and Curator at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (2010-17). Porter was also co-curator of Laneway Art and City Spaces at the City of Sydney (2012-13), which led to the public artwork commission and permanent acquisition of Youngsters by artist Caroline Rothwell (2013).
Porter is an advocate for contemporary art and artists, delivering large-scale contemporary art exhibitions featuring multidisciplinary works, innovative curatorial models and community and cultural engagement practice. With demonstrated interest in South Asia, Southeast Asia and West Asia, Porter’s practice is reflective of the notion of ‘otherness’ inspired by his own diverse cultural background. His curatorial examinations have centred on the semiotics and aesthetic of ruins, seeing destruction and degradation as conveyance for cultural memory and renewal in an ever connected and complex world.
Notable projects include: Khaled Sabsabi: A Promise & A Hope (2020-2021, co-curated with Matt Cox, AGNSW), Vernon Ah Kee: The Island (2020); OK Democracy, We Need to Talk (2019); Suzanne Archer: Song of the Cicada (2019); Amala Groom: Does She Know the Revolution is Coming? (2017); Studios Switch (2016); Oceanic Arts Pacifica (2014); Subject to Ruin (2014); Nahrain: Two Rivers (2014); and Landlock (2013).
Mai Nguyễn-Long (Bulli, Australia)
Mai is Australian born of mixed heritage and lives and works on Tharawal Country. She received her Bachelor of Arts / Asian Studies from the Australian National University (1991) with a Postgraduate Diploma in Museum Studies from the University of Sydney (1993). In 1994 she spent a year in Vietnam studying Vietnamese language at Vietnam National University and Vietnamese Art History and Life Drawing at Hanoi University of Fine Arts; and in 1997, completed her Master of Arts in Visual Art from Queensland College of Art, Griffith University . In 2017 she received an Australian Government RTP scholarship to undertake a Doctor of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong (current).
Mai’s first exhibitions were held in Manila, Philippines – Transit Lounge (Arrivals-Departures) (1996), and Hanoi, Vietnam – E Chong: A Bilingual Installation with Incorrect Translations. Working in oil on canvas for the next ten years, her imagery became consciously figurative within surreal settings that overlaid stereotypical Australian culture with Asian icons and waterscapes as their unifying element. Mai returned to installation for a 2006 commission by Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, creating 3-dimensional mongrel dogs as a metaphor for cultural exploration and her identity, using papier mache to salute Southeast Asian folk crafts. The controversy generated by the “skins” of Mai’s Pho Dogs generated her performance/installation piece, The Burning of Godog at the opening of Nam Bang! curated by Dr Boitran Huynh-Beattie for CPAC (2009). While the mongrel dog has become a cultural trigger for Mai, and for those reading her work, equally it explores narratives that are extremely personal and self-reflective.
In 2014 Mai was commissioned by Wollongong Art Gallery to present a major solo show (curated by Gina Fairley). Bridging over 15 years of Mai’s practise, Beyogmos (“beyond the dog cosmos”) synthesized her intensely personal navigations through abstruse political landscapes questioning constructs of identity by drawing on a range of mediums. From 2014 a new character named Vomit Girl became dominant in her work, propelling Mai to reconnect with Vietnam. Late 2014 and 2015 she returned to Hanoi for residencies working with CICF Copyright Agency in the ceramic village of Bat Trang, and ACCA Viet independent curatorial group (working with Muong Studio Hoa Binh). Unpacking the context of Vomit Girl’s illness inspired her to undertake a Doctor of Creative Arts (DCA), titled, Beyond Diasporic Trauma: opening up an intersection between Contemporary Art and Folkloric Practices in Vietnam. Mai Nguyễn-Long is represented by Art Atrium, a Vietnam Foundation Ambassador, and President Vietnam Centre – Australia Chapter.