To make a work of timeless art

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To make a work of timeless art: MCA Primavera Acquisitions, Museum of Contemporary Art, 2009. James Angus, Suzannah Barta, Stephen Bram, Vicente Butron, Mikala Dwyer, Marco Fusinato, Shaun Gladwell, Gail Hastings, Felicia Kan, Nick Mangan, Andrew McQualter, Yukultji Napangati, Kerrie Poliness, Elizabeth Pulie, David Rosetzky, Nike Savvas, Tim Silver, Lyndal Walker

To make a work of timeless art presented a selection of works in the MCA Collection by Primavera artists. Established in 1992, Primavera is an annual MCA exhibition that features young Australian artists and celebrates the vitality of emerging art practices. To make a work of timeless art took its title from one of Gail Hastings’ ‘sculptural situations’. It reflects the idea of ‘timelessness’ as a condition that is ongoing or in flux—rather than a completed state. One of the strengths within the MCA Collection is its support of ephemeral or instruction-based works of art. Kerrie Poliness’ Red Matter Wall Drawing #2 was recreated from an instruction book acquired by the MCA in 1995, and the preliminary watercolour produced by Andrew McQualter for his wall-painting in the MCA Collection was also displayed. James Angus’ maquette of Manta Ray, created to determine the final design of a larger-scale sculpture, revealed the often unseen aspects of studio practice.

A number of artists in the exhibition explored ideas surrounding time: Tim Silver’s Untitled (adrift) documents the dissolution of a small boat over the course of ten photographs. Vicente Butron captures a painted ‘action’ conducted in 1994 and Lyndal Walker celebrates the perpetual reinvention of art and fashion through her ‘grunge’ sculpture Come as you are. Shaun Gladwell’s video uses slowed motion to draw attention to the body in relation to the urban environment and Felicia Kan reveals traces of the world turning in her photographs, stars, moon and sky. The exhibition also provided the opportunity for artists to ‘revisit’ their works in the Collection. Mikala Dwyer, David Rosetzky and Lyndal Walker reworked their installations, and some components were donated to contextualise MCA Collection pieces. The exhibition was accompanied by a free audioguide with nine artist interviews.

Clare Lewis and Isabel Finch, 2009
Curators, To make a work of timeless art

catalogue essay

Museum of Contemporary Art