Body Politic | 2015

The Body Politic exhibition featured one of the largest collections of contemporary prints and drawings to be shipped to the United States from Australia.

The exhibition

The Body Politic: Contemporary artists in Australia investigate place, identity, memory and history through the graphic image presents the work of seventeen Australian artists. Although most of these artists work across different mediums, all have taken a primary interest in using print or graphic mediums and the printed or drawn image is the focus of this exhibition. Nevertheless, variety is a hallmark of the selection made by Richard Hricko, during his visit to Australia in August 2014, for this exhibition he has co-curated with Amze Emmons. The works by the artists range from artist’s books to printed surfboards, with the majority of the work specifically produced or adapted for display in the massively scaled ICE Box Project Space at Crane Arts.

The Artists

The artists represented are Staff, Adjuncts or Postgraduate students from Queensland College of Art, Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. The exhibition was supported by the Griffith Centre for Creative Arts Research. QCA is the oldest university-based art school in Australia and has developed a close relationship with Tyler School of Art, Temple University and the Crane Arts Centre in Philadelphia over the past decade.

The Artists included Jennifer Andrews, Blair Coffey, Clare Cowley, Carolyn Craig, Russell Craig, Paul Eves, Evan Gardner, David Jones, Tim Mosley, Bill Platz, Ryan Presley, Jude Roberts, Michelle Roberts, Jenny Sanzaro-Nishimura, Glen Skien, Jonathan Tse and Judy Watson.

Exhibition details

The Icebox, Crane Arts
Philadelphia USA

8 – 20 January 2015

Exhibition curated by Richard Hricko and Amze Emmons, Crane Arts, Philadelphia.

Body Politic Essay


by Amze  Emmons, Associate  Professor  of  Printmaking, Tyler  School  of  Art, Temple  University.

The  widening  of  the  cultural  discourse  in  the  1960’s  and  70’s  made  more  space  for  people  whose  voices the  academic  and  societal  establishment  had  long  ignored.

Negotiations  of  difference  and  agency  within  a  pluralistic  society  with  uneven  distributions  of  power  remain  as  relevant  now  as  in  the  past.  Artists  have  taken  this  thread  in  generatively  complicating  directions,  such  as,  close  readings  of  cultural  signiViers  and  investigations  of  unprecedented  cross-­‐cultural  experiences.

Many  of  the  artists  in  this  exhibition  continue  to  push  this  area  of  research  and  self-­‐discovery,  like,  David  Jones  uses  analogy  and  juxtaposition,  mining  visual  and  material  culture  for  evidence  of  how  power  and  control  can  be  exerted  through  depictions  of  racial  stereotypes  embodied  in  the  most  mundane  objects,  like  a  child’s  doll.    And  Evan  Gardener’s  rigorous  confessional  investigation  of  identity  and  gender  dysphoria  seems  to  be  inventing  new  visual  languages  to  address  newly  illuminated  forms  of  alienation.  Jenny  Sanzaro-­‐Nishimura’s  diverse  body  of  work  investigates  the  shifting  constructions  of  both  history  and  identity  in  visual  culture.

While  others  are  troubling  the  construction  of  our  so-­‐called  History  by  mining  the  archives  that  contain  the  artifacts  and  documents  of  our  shared  past,  for  example,  Judy  Watson’s  archival  research  and  beautiful  appropriation  of  historic  documents  pointing  towards  aspects  of  Australia’s  history  of  troubled  institutionalized  racism  (not  all  that  different  from  ours  here  in  the  U.S.)

Jonathan  Tse  similarly  makes  books  and  collaged  prints,  drawing  from  a  trove  of  immigration  papers  relating  to  his  own  experience  as  an  Asian-­‐Australian.  Ryan  Presley  takes  the  move  one step  further,  creating  his  own  invented  Aboriginal  currency;  generating  documentary  evidence  of  a  world  in  which  he  would  like  to  live.

A  frontispiece  is  meant  to  illustrate  the  ideas  embodied  in  a  text,  this  ranging  exhibition  can  be  said  to  embody,  if  not  illustrate,  many  striking  ideas.  And  like  a book,  the  connective  tissue  that  holds  this  body  of  work  together  is  the  printed  mark.  Each  artist  in  this  exhibition  is  leveraging  the  graphic  signature  of  the  print  in  some  way,  whether  they  are  using  a  traditional  process  and/or  a  new  media  matrix  to  capture  and  translate  their  gesture,  or  mining  historic  printed  documents  to create  a  collage  vocabulary.  All  of  the  artists  in  this  exhibition  proceed  with  an  understanding  that  their  chosen  process  changes  and  adds  meaning  to  the  images  and  objects  they  create,  and  they  evidence  a  visible  faith  that  the  stories  we  share deVine  our  relationships  to  one  another. Collectively  they  form  the  silhouette  of  a  new  Australian  body  politic.

Amze  Emmons
Associate Professor of Printmaking
Tyler School of Art,
Temple University