TELL ME MY TRUTH
SYDNEY. 27 MARCH – 16 MAY 2015
Tell Me My Truth seeks to address persistent and often contentious relationships that frame the individual within the group. Exploring the motivations of artists for whom a questioning of the veracity of the status quo is a defining aspect of their practice, Tell Me My Truth presents works that give form to alternative narratives. Contrasting fiction with the documentary, remembrance with negation, responsibility with impunity, and privacy with surveillance within the public realm, Tell Me My Truth is at once a provocative demand and an admission of the futility of splendid isolation in a world that more than ever is defined by our connectedness.
This is the second exhibition instalment of MASS GROUP INCIDENT, a major five-month multi-stage project curated and produced by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Comprising a series of exhibitions, site-specific projects, performances, film screenings and public programs, this broader project’s central theme is the power and limits of social engagement and collective action as experienced by the individual. Within this construct, Tell Me My Truth takes a more analytical and meditative approach in its investigation of the causes of social friction and mutual understanding.
Bringing together artists from Australia, Asia and abroad, new works have been commissioned by 4A especially for this exhibition, complemented by significant existing works presented in Australia for the first time. Taking longer historical views are works that seek to reveal the hidden or otherwise suppressed aspects of identities and geographies, for instance, those that relate to Sydney’s Chinatown and Indonesia’s persecuted Chinese minority. Underscoring history’s immense role in shaping individual lives are deeply personal studies, as in an artist’s attempt to re-stage a moment from his mother’s past, contrasted with investigations into the spatial dynamics of public space in which mass demonstrations are contained. Whilst Tell Me My Truth focuses on the use of digital technologies in recording and relaying often abstract and de-personalised experiences, more traditional methods of representation are also utilised to articulate marginalised perspectives.
Tell Me My Truth holds a mirror up to audiences, one in which we might recognise the embodiment of dissent and the dangers of expediency in the age of perpetual revolutions.
Simon Fujiwara (b.1982, London, UK) spent his childhood between Japan, England, Spain and Africa. In dense dramas about personal relationships, family relations, politics, architecture and history, Fujiwara’s work explores biographies and ‘real-life’ narratives through a combination of performance, video, installation and short stories.In linking fictional and real people, locations and events he explores the boundary between the real and the imagined, often revealing the very fiction of such distinction. Fujiwara’s work has been exhibited internationally at the Contemporary Art Society, UK, 2014; Tate Liverpool, UK, 2012; Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv, 2012; 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009; and the Schindler House/MAK Center for Contemporary Art, USA, 2009. In 2010, Fujiwara completed the Iaspis Residency in Gothenburg, Sweden and was awarded the Arts Foundation Fellowship Award in the UK in 2009.
Helen Grace (b. Warrnambool, Australia) is a new media artist, filmmaker, writer and academic whose work has played an active role in the development of art, cinema, photography, cultural studies and education in Australia and regionally for 30 years. Elements of art and politics intertwine in her work as she draws on the past to reflect on the present. Her work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, and has been exhibited internationally in Hong Kong, the US, the UK, France, Spain and Finland. Grace’s latest book, Culture, Aesthetics and Affect in Ubiquitous Media: The Prosaic Image, was published by Routledge in 2014. She was Founding Director of the MA Programme in Visual Culture Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong; an associate (Department of Gender & Cultural Studies) and research affiliate (Sydney College of the Arts), at the University of Sydney; and is currently Co-Investigator on a study on the measurement of community benefit in public space transformation in Hong Kong; and a member of the Film Advisory Board of Sydney International Film Festival, where she focuses on Asian and independent cinema.
Amala Groom (b. 1979, Casino, Australia) is a conceptual artist whose practice is informed by Indigenous methodologies and whose work, as a form of passionate activism, reads as a social and political commentary on contemporary politics and race relations. Since the beginning of her art practice in 2012 Groom has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including the 2013 and 2014 Parliament of NSW Aboriginal Art Prize where her works were highly commended. Groom’s first solo exhibition, The Cider Series, took place at Kings Cross Library in 2014. Recent and upcoming shows include: Lawful & Permissible: Amala Groom & Blak Douglas (aka Adam Hill) at Damien Minton Gallery, Sydney; Bungaree’s Farm, curated by Djon Mundine OAM for Mosman Art Gallery, Sydney; (in)visible: the First Peoples and War at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery. She is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Fine Arts at UNSW Art & Design.
FX Harsono (b. 1949, Blitar, Indonesia) is a seminal figure in Indonesia’s contemporary art scene. Since his student days he has been an active critic of Indonesian politics, society and culture, always updating his artistic language to the current social and cultural contexts. Harsono’s own biography and family history are often the basis of his art. He has exhibitied solo work and participated in group exhibitions in and outside Indonesia, including at Selasar Sunaryo Art Space, Bandung, 2014; Arter Space for Art, Istanbul, 2014; Jogja National Museum, Yogyakarta, 2013; Bangkok Art And Cultural Center, Thailand, 2013; Tyler Rollins, New York, 2012; and the Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, 2010. Harsono’s work has been presented at 4A as part of the major multiyear community-engaged project Edge of Elsewhere in 2011 and 2012. In 2014 Harsono was the recipient of the Prince Clause Fund award. He currently lectures at the Faculty of Art and Design at the University of Pelita Harapan, Tangerang, Indonesia.
He Xiangyu (b. 1986, Liaoning Province, China) is part of a new generation of conceptual artists in China. Using various media, his work is a commentary on society and culture. He has held solo exhibitions at The Bathhouse, Tokyo, 2013; White Space, Beijing, 2012; Kunstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral, Bad Ems, Germany, 2011; Loft Art Gallery, Paris, 2011; and Wall Art Museum, Beijing, 2010. His work has been included in group exhibitions in Groninger Museum, The Netherlands, 2013; Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2013; Iberia Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2012; and Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland, 2011. Xiangyu graduated from the Shenyang Normal University and lives and works in Beijing. He Xiangyu is represented by WHITE SPACE, Beijing.
James Newitt (b. 1981, Hobart, Tasmania) lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal and Hobart, Tasmania. His work engages with specific social and cultural relations, often embracing mutability and paradox in order to investigate the spaces between individual and collective identity, memory, history, fact and fiction through personal, observational and performative approaches. Newitt’s work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Australia and Europe, including Lumiar Cite, Lisbon, 2013; the 2013 Anne Landa Award for Video and New Media Arts, Art Gallery of New South Wales; the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, 2012; the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 2009 and 2011; Rosalux, Berlin, 2009 and 2010; The Gallery of Fine Arts, Split, Croatia, 2010; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2010. In 2012 James was awarded the prestigious Samstag Scholarship to participate in the Maumaus Independent Study Program in Lisbon. James is an Associate Lecturer at the University of Tasmania, College of the Arts.
Tony Schwensen (b. 1970, Sydney, Australia) explores the human condition through performance, video, installation and sculpture. He has maintained an active participation in contemporary art practice since 1988, including establishing and running artist run initiatives, hosting international artists, providing exhibition and performance opportunities and regularly exhibiting nationally and internationally. Schwensen completed a PhD at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney, researching the influence and adaptation of the discipline specific investigations of Samuel Beckett on and into historic and contemporary video performance practice. Schwensen was awarded the Helen Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship in 1998, enabling him to live and work in Rotterdam, The Netherlands from 1999–2001. Schwensen’s work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions, including Perform! Cooperate! Now! Burgtheater, University of Hildesheim, Hildesheim, Germany, 2014; How Xenophobia Affects Aliens, Mobius, Cambridge, USA, 2013; Monaism, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, 2011; BIG PINKO (with Andre Stitt), Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown, 2009; Complain about Australia to an Australia, Michael Lett Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand, 2006; Border Protection Assistance, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Casula, 2002; Revolutions: Forms that Turn, 16th Biennale of Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2008; and ANTI Contemporary Art Festival, Kuopio, Finland, 2006. He currently lives and works in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
John von Sturmer (b. 1943, Lismore, Australia) is a social anthropologist with a long and distinguished career in Aboriginal studies. He has been a central participant in many key events and issues including uranium mining in Western Arnhem Land, the Aboriginal Customary Law Reference, and the Wik Native Title Claim. Research director/senior adviser to the Agreement Implementation Committee and First Nations Joint Company, PNG-Gladstone Pipeline Project. Long involvement in Aboriginal art and performance. Since the mid-1990s, increasing creative involvement – painting, installation and performance; collaborations with Slawek Janicki, Cigdem Aydemir, Djon and Roy Mundine; critical writing and textual production. Senior Fellow, Institute of Postcolonial Studies, Melbourne. Based in Sydney since 1984.
Erin Smith, “Sydney’s 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art Announce “Tell Me My Truth” Exhibition” , The Au Review, March 26 2015.
Sue Wang, “4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art announces “Tell Me My truth” featuring eight Australian and international artists,” CAFA ART INFO, March 26 2015.
Rachel Storey, “The Asian art market is expanding but is Australia looking in the right direction?,” ABC Arts News, May 13 2015.
Rachel Ang, “Sydney Is All About The Art,” A Magazine, April 21 2015.
Dee Jefferson, “Tell Me My Truth,” Timeout Sydney, March 27 2015.
Artists James Newitt and FX Harsono, as well as co-curator of Tell Me My Truth, Toby Chapman appeared on 2ser 107.3 (radio and online) March 26 2015.
Tell Me My Truth is produced by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art; assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body; and supported by the City of Sydney Cultural Grants Program.