A beginner’s guide to the Marvel Cinematic Universe


The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a single continuity of feature films and other media based on characters and stories from Marvel’s sprawling comic book history, released in ‘phases’. Though each film is self-contained, their thematic threads, recurring characters and subplots create a deep interconnectedness, which invites fans to identify hidden links and speculate feverishly on how the next chapters will unfold. Accessible to a wide audience thanks to canny casting, keen humour and a willingness to push the limits of genre, MCU films have enjoyed both critical and popular success.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) — explored in detail through QAGOMA’s major winter exhibition — boasts intricate, intertwined stories in 15 films to date. Delve into the MCU and its stories and characters.

Following the success of its first film, 2008’s Iron Man, the MCU expanded rapidly to become one of the most successful contemporary cinema properties, which gave the studio confidence to take risks, such as putting the lesser-known cosmic adventurers from Guardians of the Galaxy alongside top-tier heroes like Iron Man and Thor. Marvel also cleverly heightens anticipation for each adventure — fans know to sit through the closing credits for amusing interludes that sow the seeds for upcoming stories.

Production still of Guardians of the Galaxy 2014 / Director: James Gunn / © 2017 MARVEL / © The Walt Disney Company (Australia) Pty Limited / Screening at GOMA on 14 June, 2 and 23 July
Charlie Wen / Thanos on throne no.4 / Keyframe for Guardians of the Galaxy 2014 / Courtesy: Marvel / © 2017 MARVEL

In addition to bringing in A-list actors to play its mentors and villains (among them Sir Anthony Hopkins, Robert Redford, Mickey Rourke and Tilda Swinton), Marvel gives directing duties to filmmakers of singular vision. Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespearean approach elevated the first Thor; brothers Anthony and Joe Russo were best known for episodes of comedies Arrested Development and Community before delivering the taut thrills of Captain America: The Winter Solider; and New Zealand’s Taika Waititi directed the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok on the strength of low-budget comedies, such as the multiple award-winning Hunt for the Wilderpeople 2016.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe translates the comic book experience into the cinematic realm. Currently scheduled in a series of three narrative chapters, or phases, the films distil years of storytelling into an interconnected narrative, with each film expanding to include new characters and frontiers.

Phase One begins with Iron Man introducing the brilliant but troubled arms magnate Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), whose technological talents allow him to fight terror as the titular metal-suited hero. The Incredible Hulk sees another haunted genius, the gamma-radiated Dr Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) face his demons. Iron Man 2 brings the wide-reaching, extra-governmental intelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) into play, with its director Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and undercover agent Natasha ‘Black Widow’ Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). Inspired by Norse mythology, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the hammer-wielding God of Thunder, is banished to Earth where he finds himself at odds with his scheming adopted brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). In Captain America: The First Avenger, set during World War Two, Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers — a big-hearted Brooklyn kid transformed into a super solider by the experiments of Howard Stark (Tony’s father and founder of S.H.I.E.L.D.). We are also introduced to the Infinity Stones — powerful gems that can manipulate certain domains of reality. One of them, the blue Space Stone contained within the Tesseract, is the object of the villains’ desires in Phase One’s culminating film, Marvel’s The Avengers. Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) directed the first full team-up, in which Fury assembles Stark, Banner (now played by Mark Ruffalo), Romanoff, Thor, a cryogenically preserved Rogers, and marksman Clint ‘Hawkeye’ Barton (Jeremy Renner) to face off against the nefarious Loki and a swarming alien army in a climactic battle for New York.

Phase Two finds our heroes coping with the fallout of New York, and reveals the machinations of mad titan Thanos as he schemes to collect the Infinity Stones. Stark confronts his own mortality and morality in Iron Man 3, while Thor is forced to ally with Loki to save Asgard in Thor: The Dark World. Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes cues from 1970s spy thrillers, sending Rogers and Romanoff on the run to uncover a menacing conspiracy within S.H.I.E.L.D.

Phase Two also introduces the Guardians of the Galaxy — a pan-galactic sci-fi branch of the MCU that brings together a new motley of heroes: half-human Peter ‘Star-Lord’ Quill (Chris Pratt), the raccoon-like Rocket (Bradley Cooper), sentient tree Groot (Vin Diesel), literal-minded Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), and Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the adopted daughter of Thanos (Josh Brolin).

In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the earth-bound Avengers reunite when Tony Stark accidentally animates the malevolent artificial intelligence Ultron (James Spader), whom they can defeat only in a destructive confrontation, with help from psychic Wanda ‘Scarlet Witch’ Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), the benevolent Infinity Stone-powered AI. Phase Two closes with a dimensional detour, when former cat burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) takes on the mantle of miniaturised hero Ant-Man.

Production still of Thor: The Dark World 2013 / Director: Alan Taylor / © 2017 MARVEL / © The Walt Disney Company (Australia) Pty Limited / Screening at GOMA on 11 June, 26 July and 20 August
Promotional image for Avengers: Age of Ultron 2015 / Director: Joss Whedon / © 2017 MARVEL / © The Walt Disney Company (Australia) Pty Limited / Screening at GOMA on 18 June, 2 and 27 August
Jackson Sze / Train throw / Keyframe for Ant-Man 2015 / Courtesy: Marvel / © 2017 MARVEL

In the chaotic wake of Age of Ultron, Phase Three opens with Captain America: Civil War, which splits the heroes into two groups: a Tony Stark-led faction that supports the global push for regulation of the Avengers, and a Steve Rogers-fronted bloc that opposes them. The film introduces African king and warrior T’Challa, aka Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), and friendly neighbourhood web-slinger Peter Parker (Tom Holland) — Spider-Man’s first MCU appearance. Mystical dimensions are introduced when Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), a self-absorbed but brilliant surgeon, seeks supernatural healing after his hands are irreparably damaged. Under the tutelage of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), he finds himself on a path to a new magical mastery aided by an Infinity Stone that can manipulate time.

In 2017, Phase Three continues with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; Peter Parker’s first MCU standalone film, Spider-Man: Homecoming; and the highly anticipated Thor: Ragnarok, which was filmed in Queensland and Brisbane’s CBD. The MCU is set to expand even further in 2018: after a solo outing for Black Panther, virtually every hero seen on screen so far, as well as Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), will join the fray in the massive Avengers: Infinity War. By the time the Infinity Stones story wraps up in 2019 with a fourth Avengers film, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will comprise 21 intertwined big-screen adventures.

Production still of Captain America: Civil War 2016 / Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo / © 2017 MARVEL / © The Walt Disney Company (Australia) Pty Limited / Screening at GOMA on 21 June, 5 July, 6 and 30 August
Production still from Doctor Strange 2016 / Director: Scott Derrickson / © 2017 MARVEL / © The Walt Disney Company (Australia) Pty Limited / Screening at GOMA on 28 June, 19 July and 3 September

‘Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe’ is organised by the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) in collaboration with Marvel Entertainment. The exhibition has received additional support from the Queensland Government though Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) and Arts Queensland.

GOMA will also present a stellar line-up of pop, electronica and rock across six Friday nights when ‘Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe’ Up Late kicks off from 28 July to 1 September 2017.

…Properly Used, It’s Almost Invincible

The Five Venoms_72dpix570pxw
Production still from The Five Venoms 1978 | Director: Chang Cheh | Image courtesy: © Licensed by Celestial Pictures Limited. All rights reserved

The Australian Cinémathèque’s ‘Action, Hong Kong Style’ program at GOMA in 2013 included a rare double feature of the two films that laid the foundation for one of the most original music groups to emerge in the last twenty years. The Five Venoms 1978 M and The 36th Chamber of Shaolin 1978 were crucial in the development of the Wu-Tang Clan’s unique aesthetic.

]The Wu-Tang Clan

During the early 90s ascendancy of west coast g-funk, the sound epitomised by the L.A-sheen of Dr Dre’s The Chronic, the emergence from New York’s least celebrated borough of a chaotic group of nine ragtag rappers with a penchant for kung fu films seemed unlikely to have much impact on the world of hip hop, let alone the music industry and popular culture at large. Nevertheless, the Wu-Tang Clan forged a sound and a business model that would influence hip hop well into the new millennium, with a branding acumen that paved the paths to Jay Z’s imperial mind-state and the cult of Kanye West’s personality.

As well as tapping the common tropes of New York rap, the Wu’s murky aesthetic revelled in a fully-formed mythos that spliced mafia, chess and comic book references with a heavy dose of martial arts philosophy and imagery.

Hong Kong action cinema of the late 70s had a profound effect on a teenage Robert Diggs, later known as Clan producer, MC and mastermind, RZA. Trekking from his home, first in Brooklyn and later Staten Island, to the grindhouse theatres on Manhattan’s 42nd Street, he took in dubious imports like The Chinese Mack and Fists of the  Double K which were tacked on to first-run American horror movies to create a double or triple feature.

His fascination with these films turned serious with The Five Venoms, the story of a cohort of masked disciples whose fighting styles each embodied a different creature: Centipede, Scorpion, Snake, Lizard, and Toad, and the obsession was cemented with the release of The 36th Chamber of Shaolin. Director Lau Kar-leung’s dedication to depicting genuine martial artistry resonated with Diggs, who would later be equally concerned with authenticity in hip hop. Gordon Liu played San Te, whose painstaking mastery of the existing thirty-five chambers of Shaolin ultimately led to his establishment of a thirty-sixth chamber which would spread the knowledge of Shaolin to the world.

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin_72dpix570pxw
Production still from The 36th Chamber of Shaolin 1978 | Director: Lau Kar-leung | Image courtesy: © Licensed by Celestial Pictures Limited. All rights reserved

As Diggs would tell Film Comment in 2008:

‘That one changed my life. It’s like a kung fu Rocky… I’ve never seen swords slashing like that before. It was through these films that I was able to see and feel from a non-Western point of view. Some of the dialogue struck a chord with me. It was Buddhism and psychology. “Without wisdom, there is no gain.” There’s beauty in that.’

These characters and plots, along with several others from the genre, shaped the Clan’s lyrical, sonic and visual palette. On the cover of their 1993 debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), masked clan members arise from the darkness of a candlelit dojo. Their home borough of Staten Island is rechristened Shaolin, and though RZA plunders well-used sample sources for his beats, once the kung fu atmosphere and the MCs’ high impact verbal acrobatics are added to the fray, the sum effect of Enter is an unprecedented kinetic menace.

Cover art from Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) 1993 | Loud Records/RCA

The album is shot through with homage to Hong Kong cinema of all stripes, not least in one tense and hilarious conversational interlude in which a disgusted Raekwon berates Method Man for not taking better care of a borrowed VHS copy of John Woo’s The Killer. No doubt it was a valued commodity in the days before DVD and torrents. The Killer screens Sunday 6 October at 3.00pm and Wednesday 9 October at 8.00pm.

The sound of Enter was the sonic antithesis of Dre’s highly-polished synthesisers and replayed samples, and the low-fi methodology was all part of the effect as RZA explained, again to Film Comment:

‘When we made the first Wu-Tang album in 1993, we only had VHS and it was hard to hook up your equipment to get a good sample. Another great sample, from Five Deadly Venoms, was, “The Toad Style is immensely strong . . . it’s immune to any weapon. When properly used, it’s almost invincible” Those types of intro lines were perfect for my imagination and what I wanted to represent.’

Wu-Tang Clan | Da Mystery of Chessboxin’ (clean version)

What RZA wanted to represent was the largest and most versatile arsenal of rap styles ever amassed in a single group. Like the Venoms, each Clansman had a distinct style. Method Man’s charismatic growl, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s drunken master lilt, GZA’s rocksteady punchline delivery, and Ghostface and Raekwon’s visceral narrative interplay were all parlayed into successful solo albums shortly after their group debut. RZA as sufi had used his studio as dojo to hone these styles. Speaking to Brian Coleman for the book Check the Technique, he likened the competitive sharpening of their verbal skills to kung fu training:

‘It’s like being in Shaolin, where the monks all train with each other. One monk may be nice and another monk may be nicer… It was like sharpening metal against metal.’

The Clan’s fortunes have varied over the past two decades, but even when faced with internal squabbles, critical ambivalence and creative missteps, they’ve remained unpredictable and unswervingly original. RZA’s savvy philosophy of building the group and taking its teachings to the world through the 36th Chamber, like San Te in the film, undoubtedly set the template for much of what followed in hip hop, a genre which continues to seep into popular culture at a broader level.

Remnants Of Drexciya

The Otolith Group | Hydra Decapita (still) 2010 | Courtesy the artists

This month, the Australian Cinémathèque at GOMA has been screening the moving image work of Turner-nominees The Otolith Group. The work of duo Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun is rich in reference to eclectic sources. For example, the world building of enigmatic Detroit techno musicians Drexciya is the launching pad for Hydra Decapita 2010.

Through their early EPs and subsequent full length albums, Drexciya conjured the mythology of a submarine nation populated by the descendants of pregnant slaves thrown overboard during the crossing of The Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas. Through these releases and a series of albums referred to as ‘Storms’, attributed to Drexciya and other working names, the cosmology evolved to encompass an astronomically distant fluid universe linked to the underwater Drexciya by wormholes.

The Otolith Group | Hydra Decapita (still) 2010 | Courtesy the artists

In a January 1998 article for music magazine The Wire, Eshun articulated his fascination with Drexciya, linking their aquatopia to earlier manifestations of submerged worlds suggested in the music of Hendrix, Parliament and Can. Noting that humanity knows more about the surface of Mars than the depths of the ocean, Eshun found ‘these unknown depths… the appropriate environment for concepts secreted deep in track subtitles, impressed in the vinyl, hidden notions you have to dive for.’ The Drexciyan mythos, he concluded, was not a puzzle to be solved, but a mystery to be passed on.

Hydra Decapita is a metadocumentation of the world that Drexciya described, or perhaps implied, through sleeve artwork, vinyl run-out etchings, and the occasional appearance of spoken vocals in their music. Visually, the film is punctuated by hypnotic high-contrast close-ups of flickering water, an intentionally unbreakable code which Eshun described to The Wire in 2010 as a depiction of the tension between hermeneutics and hermetics: ‘they’re enigmas which we continually try to decode and interpret, even though we know they’re not interpretable’.

The Otolith Group | Hydra Decapita (still) 2010 | Courtesy the artists

Hydra Decapita draws in the voice of a mysterious ‘author’ receiving transmissions from the remnant of Drexciya, imagining pan-galactic stretches of water-space whose coordinates are now lost. It also references one of the ‘rival hypotheses of Drexciya’s origin’ via JMW Turner’s painting The Slave Ship 1840. The arresting image of the slaves, tossed overboard and struggling against a violent ocean and the oncoming tempest, is evoked through Sagar’s singing of passages from art critic John Ruskin’s 1843 analysis of the painting. The brief, strobing appearance of details of the painting in the final minute of Hydra Decapita is a rare burst of colour in the otherwise murky seascape.

The artists Drexciya put their mythology first, so much so that James Stinson was only officially identified as the lynchpin of the project after his death in 2002. With co-conspirator Gerald Donald, Stinson infused the project with a potent political undertone that teased interpretation, but existed entirely in a world of their own making. The Otolith Group capture this spirit in their sublimation of the Drexciyan idea for Hydra Decapita as they present ‘the perspective of the sea looking back at us’. Without using any of the duo’s music, their point of departure is purely conceptual and their own ‘passing on’ of the mystery is a credit to the depth of the notions encoded in the Stinson and Donald’s discography.

Hydra Decapita 2010 screens with I See Infinite Distance Between Any Point and Another 2012 and The Radiant 2012, at the Australian Cinematheque, GOMA, from 3pm on Saturday 20 July.

For more on Drexciyia, their music and mythology is chronicled in exhaustive detail on Stephen Rennick’s Drexciyan Research Lab blog.

Sculpture is Everything

Michael Sailstorfer, Germany b. 1979 | Wolken (Clouds) 2010 | Tyre inner tubes | Purchased 2011 with funds from Tim Fairfax, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | © Michael Sailstorfer 2010/VG Bild-Kunst. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney, 2012

A brooding mass of 300 tyre tubes hovering like clouds; dance machines from the Torres Strait Islands; two giant red polar bears and a seal balancing a baby grand piano on its nose are among more than 130 sculptures that have transformed GOMA’s ground floor.

Sculpture is Everything: Contemporary works from the Collection‘ challenges understandings of what constitutes sculpture. It also celebrates the Gallery’s active role collecting and commissioning international contemporary sculpture over recent decades, and acknowledges the support of benefactors.

With a focus on new and recent work, ‘Sculpture is Everything’ explores how unexpected forms such as film, photography, painting and performance can be considered sculptural. The exhibition reflects the scope and depth of the Collection, with work by more than 80 artists from Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America and Australia, including a range of work by Indigenous Australian artists.

Several major new acquisitions purchased with the support of Tim Fairfax, AM, some by artists never before seen in Australia, are featured, including: Zilvinas Kempinas’ magnetic tape installation Columns 2006; Timo Nasseri’s faceted metal wall piece Epistrophy VI 2012; Lara Favaretto’s rotating car-wash brushes Gummo IV 2012; Henrique Oliveira’s oozing, bulbous wooden form Xilonoma Chamusquius 2 2012 and Michael Sailstorfer’s Wolken (Clouds) 2010, suspended above GOMA’s Long Gallery. The exhibition also includes Mike Parr’s Stepped wedge 1998, a 16-metre long beeswax and graphite obstacle gifted by the artist and on display for the first time.

Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija’s work of social sculpture Untitled (lunch box) 1998 will be presented every Friday for the duration of the exhibition. The work invites visitors to sit down at a small table in the Gallery for a lunch of Thai takeaway food from a local restaurant.

Also on display are popular collection works including Montien Boonma’s Salas for the mind 1995; Nam June Paik’s The Elements 1989; Michel Tuffery’s small corn beef tin bull Povi tau vaga (The challenge) 1999; Bharti Kher’s life-size elephant The skin speaks a language not its own 2006; Romuald Hazoumè’s series of masks made from recycled waste and Aurukun artist Joe Ngallametta’s Thap yongk (Law poles) 2002–03.

Sculpture is Everything the accompanying publication explores the diverse and often unexpected forms we may consider sculptural.

Lara Favaretto, Italy b.1973 | Gummo IV 2012 | Iron, car wash brushes and electrical motors | Purchased 2012 with funds from Tim Fairfax, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | © The artist

Artists Announced: Seventh Asia Pacific Triennial (APT7)

An-My LE, Vietnam/USA b.1960 | Patient Admission, US Naval Hospital Ship Mercy, Vietnam (from ‘Events Ashore’ series) 2010 | Archival inkjet pigment print on 380gsm Harman Professional Inkjet paper mounted on sintra, ed. 2/5 | The Kenneth and Yasuko Myer Collection of Contemporary Asian Art. Purchased 2011 with funds from Michael Sidney Myer through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

The Gallery today announced the 77 artists and artist groups from 27 countries that will feature in ‘The 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT7)’, marking the 20th anniversary of the international exhibition.

On display at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) and Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) from 8 December 2012 to 14 April 2013, the exhibition will range from internationally renowned senior artists, including Huang Yong Ping (China/France), Atul Dodiya (India), Raqib Shaw (India/UK) and Fiona Tan (Indonesia/The Netherlands), to young and emerging artists from the region.

Highlights of APT7 will include the first major focus on artists from West Asia; works by young generations of Indonesian and Vietnamese artists; new work from a group of seven Australian artists; and the most significant representation yet of contemporary work from PNG.

Mohammed Qasim ASHFAQ | United Kingdom/Pakistan
Asmat artists: Ben AFEX; Amatus AHMAK; Antonin ARKE; Primus ISIMIN; Stefanus JAKFU; Norbertus JOKOMEN; Paulis KOMARE; Paulis POKMAN; Yakobus SERAMBI; Dinisius SIRETS | Papua, Indonesia
Rina BANERJEE | India/United States of America
Daniel BOYD | Australia
Louisa BUFARDECI | Australia
Neha CHOKSI | USA/India
Tiffany CHUNG | Vietnam
Lorraine CONNELLY-NORTHEY | Australia
Michael COOK | Australia
Timothy COOK | Australia
Atul DODIYA | India
Inci EVINER | Turkey
Graham FLETCHER | New Zealand/Samoa
Parastou FOROUHAR | Iran/Germany
HUANG Yong Ping | China/France
GIMHONGSOK | South Korea
Roslisham ISMAIL aka ISE | Malaysia
Takahiro IWASAKI | Japan
Susan JACOBS | Australia
Chia-En JAO | Taiwan
Tomoko KASHIKI | Japan
Sangdon KIM | South Korea
Joanna LANGFORD | New Zealand
An-My LE | Vietnam/United States of America
LEE Kit | Hong Kong/China
Shirley MACNAMARA | Australia
Basir MAHMOOD | Pakistan
Sheila MAKHIJANI | India
Richard MALOY | New Zealand
MIXRICE | South Korea
NGUYEN Manh Hung | Vietnam
NGUYEN Minh Phuoc | Vietnam
NGUYEN Thai Tuan | Vietnam
Manuel OCAMPO | The Philippines
Michael PAREKOWHAI | New Zealand
Pratchaya PHINTHONG | Thailand
PHUAN Thai Meng | Malaysia
THE PROPELLER GROUP | Vietnam/United States of America
Sara RAHBAR | Iran/United States of America
Wedhar RIYADI | Indonesia
Edwin ROSENO | Indonesia
RUANGRUPA | Indonesia
Dominic SANSONI | Sri Lanka
Greg SEMU | NZ/Samoa
Raqib SHAW | India/United Kingdom
Dayanita SINGH | India
Tadasu TAKAMINE | Japan
Fiona TAN | Indonesia/Netherlands
TE Wei | China
Sopolemalama Filipe TOHI | Tonga/New Zealand
TROMARAMA | Indonesia
Tintin WULIA | Indonesia/Australia
YUAN Goang-Ming | Taiwan
ZHOU Tiehai | China

Papua New Guinea (Co-curator: Martin Fowler)
SULKA: Camilius TEPE (team leader), Paskalis BILL, Moky CAMILIUS, Makude JOESEPH, Tadius LOHALI, Herman PAPE, Antonius SAVUO Jr, Herman TEP, and Bernard VIETON
ARAWE: Bruno AKAU, Alfred SAPU
COASTAL ARAPESH: Alex GABOUR (team leader), Connor AUKA, James AUSORI, Alex BERRY, Connor KOMONAIN, Joan MABUT, Fransica SALID, Joe SARUM, Rupina SUNA, Baka WILSON
TOLAI: Iatapal Cultural Group; Ravat Cultural Group, Vunapaka Cultural Group
IATMUL: Issac KAPUN; Gibson KAPUN, Aamus KAMDUKA, Ganot KAM, Willie MASO; David YAMANAPI
KWOMA ARTS: Anton WAIAWAS (team leader), Kevin APSEPA, Simon GOIYAP, Jamie JIMOK, Nelson MAKAMOI, Rex MAUKOS, Terry PAKIEY
Senior project advisors: Waikua NERA (Abelam), Anton WAIAWAS (Kwoma), Gesley RIVAN (Tolai), Damien GULKLEDEP (Pomio), Camilus TEPE and Robert DIUA (Sulka), Otto KAMA and Anton AQUI (Iatmul) and Alex GABOUR (Coastal Arapesh)

0 – Now: Traversing West Asia (Co-curator: November Paynter)
Cevdet EREK | Turkey
Erbossyn MELDIBEKOV | Kazakhstan
Almagul MENLIBAYEVA | Kazakhstan
Hrair SARKISSIAN | Syria/Armenia
Wael SHAWKY | Egypt
SLAVS & TATARS | Poland/United States of America/Iran
Oraib TOUKAN | United States of America/Jordan

The 20 Year Archive
Heman CHONG |  Singapore
{disarmed} imagining a Pacific archive: Torika BOLATAGICI | Australia/Fiji; Mat HUNKIN | New Zealand/Samoa; Teresia TEAIWA | United States of America/Kiribati/New Zealand
MAP OFFICE | Hong Kong, China

Over 20 years, the Asia Pacific Triennial has attracted over 1.8 million visitors and continues to be the only recurring art exhibition focussing on contemporary art from Asia, the Pacific and Australia.

APT7 is made possible by founding sponsor the Queensland Government, presenting sponsor Santos, and principal partners Events Queensland, the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australian Government’s Visual Arts and Crafts Strategy. The PNG component is sponsored by Kramer Ausenco, and a range of cultural organisations have also made invaluable contributions.

Occupying all of GOMA and key spaces in QAG, including the iconic Watermall, APT7 will include several artists whose work has never been seen before in Australia, numerous major commissions, and site-specific works.

APT7 will feature a free opening weekend program involving many of the exhibiting artists and several performance events; the GOMA Talks series of discussion panels; two film programs; the 20 Year Archive project; as well as printed and online publications and education resources.

Kids APT will premiere interactive artworks and installations by participating artists and the On Tour program will be presented throughout regional Queensland.

The project ‘0-Now: Traversing West Asia’, developed in collaboration with Istanbul-based curator November Paynter, will feature works by artists from Egypt, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Syria, Jordan and the diaspora, united by an interest in the movement of peoples and changing landscapes of West Asia.

APT7 will feature vibrant new work by an exciting group of young artists from Indonesia and Vietnam where the emerging contemporary art scene is being driven by independent artist-run spaces and a highly engaged art community.

The Australian component of APT includes new work from five Aboriginal artists — Daniel Boyd, Lorraine Connelly-Northey, Michael Cook, Timothy Cook and Shirley Macnamara — in addition to Louisa Bufardeci and Susan Jacobs, all reflecting on the varied histories that contribute to their distinctive senses of place, which is one of the key threads running through the exhibition.

The major presentation of contemporary works informed by customary practices from Papua New Guinea will bring together performance objects with two major architectural commissions by artists from the East Sepik province.

The public sculpture The World Turns by New Zealand artist Michael Parekowhai, which was commissioned in November 2011 to mark the fifth anniversary of the opening of GOMA and the 20th anniversary of APT, will be located outside GOMA on the bank of the Brisbane River.

The twentieth anniversary of APT is an opportunity to reflect upon the unprecedented transformations that have occurred in Australia, Asia and the Pacific over the past two decades. With this in mind, APT7’s 20 Year Archive project invites four artists and artist collectives to explore a range of regional archives, including QAGOMA’s Australian Centre of Asia Pacific Art, and present creative interpretations of their content.

The Gallery’s Australian Cinémathèque will present two major cinema programs for APT7: one that expanded upon the exhibition’s exploration of social, political and aesthetic changes occurring throughout Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East during the last 20 years, and a historical survey of Chinese animation.

APT7 will be accompanied by a wide-ranging suite of publications, online resources and educational material. For more information on the exhibition and artists visit www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/apt7

Winner Announced: National New Media Art Award

George Poonkhin Khut | Photograph: QAGOMA

New South Wales-based artist George Poonkhin Khut was today named the winner of the $75,000 National New Media Art Award for 2012.

George Poonkhin Khut’s winning entry Distillery: Waveforming 2012 consists of a clip-on heart monitor, tablet computer and a program that shows the viewer a visual interpretation of their beating heart.

The judging panel said Khut’s work poetically explored the interactions between the mind and body; and art and science. By visually displaying the viewer’s heartbeat the work instantly responds to their changing reactions, creating a continuous biofeedback loop.

The work was originally developed as a relaxation training system for managing the pain and anxiety experienced by children undergoing medical treatment. The judges commended Khut’s creative approach to experimental research, and the great potential it showed for other applications.

George Poonkhin Khut, Australia b. 1969 | Installation of Distillery: Waveforming (Portrait of Lian) | Photograph: QAGOMA
George Poonkhin Khut | Distillery: Waveforming (Portrait of Lian) 2012 | Still from video portraits of sitters interacting with heart rate controlled composition software for iPad | Photograph: Julia Pendrill Charles | Stylist: Troy Brennan | Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Distillery: Waveforming 2012 | Screen capture of heart rate controlled iPad app | Signal analysis software: Angelo Fraietta (Smart Controller) and Tuan M Vu; iOS visual effects software: Jason McDermott (ARUP Informatics), adapted from original code by Greg Turner | Photograph: Courtesy the artist | © The artist

The selection committee also highly commended Kirsty Boyle’s Tree ceremony, which they said engaged beautifully with the history and cultural implications of robotics; and Robin Fox’s CRT: homage to Léon Theremin, a subtle re-viewing of obsolete media, and a sophisticated yet playful interactive installation.

In addition to the main prize, the National New Media Art Award also incorporates the Queensland New Media Scholarship, which is now open for entries. This $25,000 travel and study scholarship for an emerging new media artist living and working in Queensland aims to foster and assist in developing aspects of creative practice in new media. Entries for the scholarship close on September 14 and the successful applicant will be announced on 22 October 2012.

You can view the award exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) until 4 November 2012 which is accompanied by a richly illustrated publication.