Exhibition Introduction

From the introduction to the ARTEXPRESS 2003 catalogue:

What would it be like to leave behind everything with which you are familiar--family, friends, traditions, place: people and things that you love and know--and travel to a distant land? What is required in order to picture deeply felt familial and cultural connections? How might you begin to imagine and portray yourself and the experience of your daily life? Or even, reflecting more widely on the events of recent times, how might you understand and symbolise what reverberated in you most strongly? On what historical and cultural knowledge would you have to draw?

These are questions raised by the artworks in this year's exhibition. Expressions of war; Fault lines; A Foreign Object In A Distant Realm; The Palestinian story; Sanctuary: Kurdistan to Iran, Pakistan to Australia; Glimpses Of Faith; It's Not Black And White. These titles indicate the concerns of many students, while much other work continues to be underpinned by a pre-occupation with identity - cultural identity, belonging, place and memory are the recurring themes. And importantly, what comes across from the experience of the actual works is an expansive sense of being in the world: of exploring and speculating upon life, relationships and the sometimes murky machinations of the world. In considering these works, one is often left with a respect and admiration for the artists' ability to engage with and represent challenging and complex ideas.

It goes without saying that many exhibitions could be made from the outstanding pool of students' work available. This is merely one selection; brought together for the provocative connections that they establish with each other. Hopefully, you will be taken by surprise and caught off-guard; amazed and delighted, perhaps challenged by the strengths of each work.

In a world of increasing standardisation, conformism and persuasion by omnipresent advertising and scare-mongering journalism, the clarity and daring of independent, dissenting points of view is encouraged in the study of art much more than it is permitted elsewhere in contemporary society. Works like Portrait of Kurt Cobain; Scientific Research; Cell your Soul Manipulate, Replicate, Terminate attest to this spirit of resistance. This exhibition celebrates the sense of belief, refreshing optimism and prospect of revitalisation that young artists offer to a contemporary culture.

Bronwyn Clark-Coolee
Co-ordinator, Education Programmes, AGNSW

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