Review: Agenda

QUT Art Museum in Brisbane held the Agenda exhibition, officially opened on the 5th of July, running until the 31st of August. The direction of the exhibition was focused on bringing together artworks that focus on an agenda. Whether the art is political, social or cultural, these works deliver a mutual message to the audience, working together to show complexity and diversity. There is a fascinating juxtaposition between the overt and subtle agendas of the exhibitions artistic pieces, created in a multiplicity of style, method, meaning and voice. The works of Richard Bell, Fiona Foley, Michel Cook, and Vernon Ah Kee call for equality for Indigenous Australia. Whereas Keith Looby and Jay Younger’s work critically analyze government politics. Alfredo, Isabel Aquilizan and Dadang Christanto delicately question inequality, and give voice to the disenfranchised. While the works of Leah Emery and Barbara Hanrahan reflect on gender issues with delicate humour. Whatever agenda is espoused, these artists are united in presenting powerful images that testify to the ongoing political power of art.

The works are all presented in different ways, from the use of large dynamic canvas prints and paintings, to the use of installations and framed photographs. The works are exhibited in two separate rooms making the transition between the two flow nicely for viewers. The theme, purpose and ideas embodied in this exhibition, portray diverse political themes that inform and compliment one another. The artists voice their opinion through the use of powerful imagery and installations. There is a shared political and social agenda and through the use of different art mediums, a diversity of expressions and perspectives are revealed. Vernon Ah Kee’s black and white dichotomy on canvas critiques Australian popular culture. The text-based installation reveals and condemns the widespread and inescapable discrimination and racial stereotyping that Indigenous Australians have experienced.

The works interact with each other effectively, sharing political views of the world. The exhibition certainly exerts influences of agenda, and this is what makes it so unique. Spotlights are fixed on each piece, creating an open connection with the audience. The larger canvases are lit up with three separate lights making them hard to miss. Some of the photographs and paintings are framed in black and brown, which makes the works lack a little consistency.

The use of dynamic canvas prints and installations really add up to a successful and engaging exhibition that promotes the idea that all art is political. By using propaganda to promote political and social agendas, the work is well informed by the perspective of each individual artist. Each artist has used their work as a tool of subversion; criticizing and questioning socio-political structures that shape the views of society in order to give a voice to private and public concerns. One of the artists from Agenda, Richard Bell is exhibiting his work ‘Imagining Victory’ at the Casula Powerhouse in NSW from the 11th of October to the 23rd of November.

By Jessica Longworth

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