Physical Video features key video works from the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), which focus on performance and theatricality in video art in Australia from the 1970s through to the present day.
Speaking about the exhibition, Chris Saines, Director of QAGOMA explains,
“These vibrant and thought-provoking works demonstrate how artists use the physical gestures and actions of the human body to illustrate social, political and aesthetic issues.”
Many of the works in the exhibition point to a resurgence in direct-to-camera performance, a process that enables artists to document themselves within the privacy of their studios. Feeling the burn 2006 by James Oram, and Walking the wall 2014 by Angela Tiatia, recall the performance-based works of the 1960s and 1970s by internationally acclaimed artists such as Dennis Oppenheim and Rebecca Horn, who used their bodies as the primary instrument to critique conventions, often by pushing their bodies to incredible extremes.
Other artists in the exhibition use the body as a conduit to explore history, culture and identity within larger theatrical settings. In Memorial Project Nha Trang, Vietnam, towards the complex - for the courageous, the curious, and the cowards 2001 by Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, cyclo drivers drag their pedal carts across the seabed to symbolise the risk and struggle of refugees in postwar Vietnam. Gymnasium 2010 by Tarryn Gill and Pilar Mata Dupont pits ideas of physical perfection against questions of Australian national identity, and in Static electricity of cat's cradle 2007 by Donghee Koo, a simple game for children simulates the awkwardness of human interaction.
Through small gestures and modes of performance, the works in Physical Video invite audiences to think about the use of physicality to explore ideas beyond the action itself.
Image: SRIWHANA SPONG, New Zealand b.1979, Costume for a mourner (still) 2010, Hard Drive (transferred from standard-definition video): 8:22 minutes, black and white, sound, ed. 3/3. Purchased 2011. John Darnell Bequest. Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist
ANGELA TIATIA, New Zealand/Australia b.1973, Walking the wall (from ‘An Inventory of Gestures’ series) (still) 2014, Single-channel HD video: 13 minutes, looped, colour, sound, ed. 2/8. Purchased 2015. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation. Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist
JUN NGUYEN-HATSUSHIBA, Japan/United States/Vietnam b.1968, Memorial Project Nha Trang, Vietnam, towards the complex - for the courageous, the curious, and the cowards (stills) 2001, DVD: 13 minutes, colour, stereo, ed. 4/10. Purchased 2002. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant. Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist
Donghee Koo, South Korea b.1974, Static electricity of cat's cradle (still) 2007, HD video: 16:9, 11:30 minutes, colour, stereo, ed. 5/5. Purchased 2011. John Darnell Bequest. Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist