AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Your Place or Mine? Curatorial approaches to place through the prism of home

by Felicity Fenner

Institution: University of New South Wales
Department: Art
Year: 2014
Keywords: Visual Art; Curatorial Studies; Exhibitions; Art Theory
Record ID: 1031908
Full text PDF: http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/54464


The outward image of the place we call home – Australia – historically dominates and subsumes personal experiences of home in exhibitions of Australian art. The thesis argues, and demonstrates through a series of curatorial projects, that exhibitions can, alternatively, embody intimate experiences of place that more accurately describe the experience of 21st century Australia. Citing recent Australian socio-political and literary culture as a backdrop, it is shown that the prism of home is an effective curatorial device through which to transmit and receive new insights into aspects of this place we call home, Australia. The conceit of ‘home’ is adopted in the thesis both as a curatorial theme and as a framework for engagement. The research reveals how reference to home can guide viewers from simply ‘understanding’ meaning to ‘inhabiting’ (being at home within) the intellectual and sensory space of artworks and exhibitions. When the idea of home is embedded in the curatorial approach, artists’ knowledge and experience – particularly those at odds with mainstream perceptions of Australian culture – can be articulated. Thus, the exhibition becomes a catalyst for new ways of seeing and thinking about place. Contextualising the author’s curatorial projects with others in the region seeking to define a post-global sense of identity, the thesis reveals how the curator can employ the framework of home to facilitate new insights into place. To achieve this, three key curatorial strategies are applied to exhibitions of Australian art: the inclusion of works that are based on real life, intersect with or are real life occurrences; the creation of installations in the gallery space that are physically immersive or inhabitable; and the co-production with artists of participatory works in public and non-institutional spaces. Through a series of curated projects, the prism of home gives voice to internal (bottom-up) understandings of place, providing an alternative to external (top-down) perceptions typically associated with the visual lexicons of national and cultural identity.