Jeff Gibson

  • Ted Kotcheff, Wake in Fright, 1971, color, 35 mm, 116 minutes. Left: Doc Tydon and John Grant (Donald Pleasence and Gary Bond). Right: Joe, John Grant, Doc Tydon, and Dick (Peter Whittle, Gary Bond, Donald Pleasence, and Jack Thompson).
    film September 28, 2012

    Permanent Thirst

    OUTBACK AUSTRALIA is an inhospitable environment. The light is blinding, the heat searing, and the arid, burnt-earth expanse goes on forever. Yet, ironically, it is the hospitality of those hardy souls desperate or crazy enough to live there that poses the greatest threat to civilized mind and body. Wake in Fright (1971) contrives to ensnare an educated city boy in the hard-drinking, hypermasculine pastimes of a fictional, but all-too-real, outback mining town named—as if to summon the Aussie drawl—Bundanyabba. A reasonably faithful adaptation of Australian author Kenneth Cook’s 1961 novel of

  • Left: Brian Trenchard-Smith, Dead-End Drive In, 1986, color film in 35 mm, 88 minutes. Production still. Right: John D. Lamond, The ABC of Love and Sex: Australia Style, 1978, still from a color film in 35 mm, 85 minutes.
    film July 28, 2009

    Exile and Exploitation

    VICE AND VULGARITY PLAY WELL IN AUSTRALIA. With the country's rum-corps origins and epic isolation, low-grade spectacle exuding illegality takes on a certain mythic quality. It’s hardly surprising then that the “great southern land” would have a rich and shameless history of bottom-line exploitation cinema, the glory days of which—the 1970s and ’80s—are affectionately chronicled in Not Quite Hollywood, a second-generation fan’s account of the rise and squall of the seedier side of the Australian film industry. Directed by Melburnian, gen-X music-video impresario Mark Hartley, NQH has no time

  • the Asia-Pacific Triennial

    BRISBANE IS BOOMING. Once a cultural and economic underdog, the capital city of the Australian state of Queensland has lately been giving Sydney and Melbourne a run for, well, their money. Skimming its take off the state’s thriving mining industry—currently enjoying an export bonanza to the Asia-Pacific region and beyond—the Queensland government is not short on funds with which to advertise its growing civic maturity and cultural sophistication. Departing Queensland Art Gallery director Doug Hall has marshaled these resources masterfully over the past two decades, steering the relatively young,

  • Tsuyoshi Ozawa, Giblets Hot Pot/Fukuoka, 2002, color photograph, 45 x 61 3/4“. From the series ”Vegetable Weapon" (2001–). From Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art 5.

    Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art 5

    Since its inception in 1993, the Asia-Pacific Triennial has been highly successful in charting vectors of cultural connection between formerly isolated nations.

    Since its inception in 1993, the Asia-Pacific Triennial has been highly successful in charting vectors of cultural connection between formerly isolated nations. Creating an alternate network to what is known colloquially as the Eumerican empire (i.e., the West), the forward-thinking APT has also become Brisbane’s greatest claim to museological fame. It’s not surprising, then, that the Queensland Art Gallery would use this event to launch its spanking-new expansion, the Gallery of Modern Art. Straddling both museums, the APT, an in-house curatorial affair led by QAG director

  • Cao Fei, Tussle, 2004, color photograph, 29 1/4 x 39 1/4". From the series “COSPlayers,” 2004–2005. From Biennale of Sydney.

    “Biennale of Sydney”

    Global fusion is the default biennial theme these days. But for Australian society—an international stir-fry in an Anglo-Celtic broth—blending flavors has been a way of life for most of the past century. Curated by intermittent Australian Charles Merewether, the fifteenth Biennale of Sydney, titled “Zones of Contact,” takes as its conceptual foundation the seemingly inexhaustible topic of sociocultural exchange. Merewether, an art historian who has taught at universities in Sydney, Barcelona, and Mexico City, is a senior fellow at the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research

  • Tom Sachs, Toyans Jr., 2001, casters, plywood, resin, hardware, stereo components, earmuffs, and fire ax, 73 1⁄2 x 103 x 23 1⁄2".

    Tom Sachs

    This show features the artist’s more megalomaniacal constructions, including a nitrous-powered police car and new works like a one-to-seven scale model of an aircraft-carrier control tower and a full-size replica of the blue whale that hangs in New York’s American Museum of Natural History.

    Mock-machismo American Tom Sachs is about to hit Europe with a double-barrel survey. The first assault, curated by Gunnar B. Kvaran, Grete Årbu, and Hanne Beate for Oslo’s Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, launches mid-January with a broad selection of incendiary objects parodically misappropriating high- and low-class power signs (think Chanel value meal and Prada toilet). The second offensive, at the Fondazione Prada, features the artist’s more megalomaniacal constructions, including a nitrous-powered police car and new works like a one-to-seven scale model of an

  • “High Tide: New Currents in Art from Australia and New Zealand”

    Organized by the Zacheta’s Magda Kardasz and expat New Zealander Simon Rees (now curator at the Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius), this binational survey features an even spread of early- to midcareer artists mining three thematic categories: indigeneity and local mythology, suburbanism (the human hatchery is a recurrent concern in art from the region), and a placeless internationalism.

    “High Tide” deposits the work of thirty-six Australian and New Zealand artists on the very distant shores of Warsaw and Vilnius. Organized by the Zacheta’s Magda Kardasz and expat New Zealander Simon Rees (now curator at the Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius), this binational survey features an even spread of early- to midcareer artists mining three thematic categories: indigeneity and local mythology, suburbanism (the human hatchery is a recurrent concern in art from the region), and a placeless internationalism. No longer far-flung colonial subjects—though

  • the Biennale of Sydney

    Descartes was wrong: The mind/body split is bogus. With this as her hook for the 14th Biennale of Sydney, the director, Portuguese independent curator Isabel Carlos, won’t get much argument there. Titling her show “On Reason and Emotion,” Carlos has conscripted neurologist and compatriot António Damásio, author of such titles as Descartes’ Error and The Feeling of What Happens, to provide the theoretical ballast for floating the interdependence of thought and feeling in contemporary art. Looking to settle the score with “northern” (read: New York) intellectualism, her biennale gets behind the

  • the National Gallery of Victoria

    The Australian art world is having a growth spurt. In Brisbane, a $65 million museum is under construction, augmenting and vastly extending the reach of the Queensland Art Gallery, home to the Asia Pacific Triennial. Down south, a whole new commercial-gallery district has sprung up in Sydney, while, most auspiciously, in Melbourne an ambitious expansion of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), involving both a major renovation and a new museum building, is nearly complete. Reopening in December, the original NGV has been given a $100 million overhaul by Milanese design maestro Mario Bellini

  • Biennale of Sydney 2002

    This biennial aimed to please. From the upbeat title—“(The World May Be) Fantastic”—to the effervescent press, the stage was set for fun-filled entertainment. Choosing fantasy and fiction as his thematic parameters, British-born Australian artist-curator Richard Grayson went all out for a crowd-warming engagement with the artistic imagination. In contrast to the Olympic pantheon of seminal figures presented in 2000, or 1998’s quiet consecration of “the everyday,” this edition favored genre grouping over trendspotting or canonical awe.

    With help from a team of advisers, namely UK-based

  • Nam June Paik, The elements, 1989.

    Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art

    Ever hip to shifting cultural and economic boundaries, previous Asia-Pacific Triennials have tended toward jamboree-style inclusiveness, forging important institutional alliances along the way. This year’s show brings it all back home with a scaled-down lineup of seventeen participants assembled by five in-house curators (led by museum director Doug Hall). Whereas past events have emphasized multicultural description, this one focuses on Asian-Pacific art in relation to the international context. Boasting such heavy hitters as Nam June Paik, Yayoi Kusama, and Montien Boonma amid a roster of

  • Biennale of Sydney 2002

    Chirpily titled “(The World May Be) Fantastic,” the thirteenth installment of the Sydney biennial homes in on the fanciful, with an eccentric lineup of artistic imagineers creating parallel worlds and fictitious scenarios. The publicity palaver conjures a festival of flawed utopianism, featuring Vito Acconci at the head of a colorful parade of reality-testing artworks. Artistic director Richard Grayson has collaborated with Susan Hiller, Ralph Rugoff, and Janos Sugar in choosing the broadly international roster of roughly