Embodied Knowledge: Queensland Contemporary Art


The survey exhibition ‘Embodied Knowledge: Queensland Contemporary Art’ at the Queensland Art Gallery from 13 August, features new and recent work by contemporary artists and collectives exploring identity, heritage and history, highlighting the vitality and diversity of the state’s artistic landscape.

The exhibition encompasses large-scale sculptural installation, photography, painting, video and performance, and includes work by Robert Andrew, James Barth, Janet Burchill & Jennifer McCamley, Megan Cope, Léuli Eshrāghi, Caitlin Franzmann, Heather Marie (Wunjarra) Koowootha, Archie Moore, Callum McGrath, Meuram Murray Island Dance Group, Ethel Murray, Ryan Presley, Obery Sambo, Erika Scott, Vanghoua Anthony Vue, Moilang (Rosie) Ware, Jenny Watson, Warraba Weatherall and Justene Williams.

DELVE DEEPER: Find out more about the artists in ‘Embodied Knowledge’ 

Robert Andrew ‘Tracing inscriptions’

Robert Andrew, Yawuru people, Australia b.1965 / Tracing inscriptions (details) 2020/22 / Aluminium, electromechanical components, rocks, wood, ochre/ Courtesy: Robert Andrew and Milani Gallery, Brisbane

Justene Williams ‘The Vertigoats’

Justene Williams, Australia b.1970 / The Vertigoats 2021 / Mixed media / Purchased 2021 with funds from the Contemporary Patrons through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Justene Williams

Many of the featured works respond to the specific character of Queensland or challenge its accepted narratives and, in doing so, draw attention to aspects of our state’s history that are overlooked or not well enough understood.

In bringing together 19 artists and collectives with ties to Queensland, this exhibition reveals common threads and interests from early-career and established artists working across a diversity of media. Ultimately, their vigour of expression is what draws their unique practices into this contemporary survey.

Vanghoua Anthony Vue’s ‘nkag siab poob siab’

Vanghoua Anthony Vue, Hmong people, Australia b.1989 / nkag siab poob siab (from the ‘Tape-affiti’ series) 2022 / Polythene tape, polyester tape and vinyl tape / Commissioned for ‘Embodied Knowledge’ by QAGOMA / Courtesy: Vanghoua Anthony Vue

Meuram Murray Island Dance Group

Meuram Murray Island Dance Group (from the Meuram nation in the Torres Strait Islands) performing during finals at sundown at Dance Rites 2018 at Sydney Opera House in Sydney, NSW, Australia on Nov. 24, 2018 / Image courtesy: ABC Arts Teresa Tan

Many artworks look at how specific bodies of knowledge are expressed and use the gallery as a vehicle to give lesser-known histories greater prominence. Vanghoua Anthony Vue (illustrated), Ethel Murray, Obery Sambo and the Meuram Murray Island Dance Group (illustrated) produce cultural continuity through their headdresses, masks, shields and customary performances.

Taking a different approach, Léuli Eshrāghi, Callum McGrath (illustrated), Archie Moore and Warraba Weatherall (illustrated) demonstrate the need to rethink archival methods to better reflect Indigenous knowledge, diverse communities and individual stories.

Callum McGrath ‘Responsibilities to time’

Callum McGrath, Australia b. 1995 / Responsibilities to time (detail) 2019 / Archival inkjet print on Canson PhotoGloss paper Ten sheets: 30 x 42cm (sheet) / Purchased 2021. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Callum McGrath

Warraba Weatherall ‘To know and possess’

Warraba Weatherall, Kamilaroi people, Australia b.1987 / To know and possess (detail) 2021 / Cast bronze / 10 pieces: 10.1 x 15.2 x 3cm (each) / Purchased 2022. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Warraba Weatherall

Representations of subjectivity and figuration feature strongly. Portrait projects by Ryan Presley, Heather Marie (Wunjarra) Koowootha, and Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley highlight under-recognised historical figures whose achievements and ideas continue to shape our society, while Moilang (Rosie) Ware and Jenny Watson (illustrated) recount personal and familial memories. Reimagining ideas of the self through digital realms connects James Barth’s (illustrated) photo-paintings and Justene Williams’s vibrant installation (illustrated).

Jenny Watson ‘Private views and rear visions’

Jenny Watson, Australia b.1951 / Private views and rear visions (detail) 2021–22 / Synthetic polymer paint on found digital prints on paper / 48 sheets: 102 x 72cm (sheet) / Courtesy: Jenny Watson

James Barth ‘Umbrage seen’

James Barth, Australia b.1993 / Umbrage seen 2021 / Oil paint, aluminium composite sheet / Image courtesy: James Barth and Milani Gallery

Several projects in the exhibition look to the way humans engage with the environment. The detrimental impact of our consumerist society is writ large in Erika Scott’s sculpture. Caitlin Franzmann (illustrated), through her performative workshops, promotes stronger connections between people and their natural surroundings. Pertinently, the ecologically sustainable hunting and burning methodologies that continue to be practised by Indigenous Australians are the subject of Megan Cope’s (illustrated) and Robert Andrew’s (illustrated) contributions.

The distinctive practices in ‘Embodied Knowledge’ express the complexity of materials, cultural vivacity and political incisiveness that are hallmarks of contemporary art today.

Caitlin Franzmann ‘Fortunes of the Forest’

Caitlin Franzmann (artist), Australia b.1979 / Man Cheung (collaborating photographer), Australia b.1978 / Amaara Raheem (collaborating dancer), Sri Lanka/Australia b.1974 / Fortunes of the Forest 2017–ongoing / Performance with digital prints on polymer coated paper / Courtesy: The artists, with the support of Brisbane City Council’s Karawatha Forest Artist in Residence Program and the Creative Sparks Fund. The Creative Sparks Fund is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council to support local arts and culture in Brisbane

Megan Cope ‘The tide waits for no one’

Megan Cope, Quandamooka people, Australia b.1982 / The tide waits for no one 2020–21 / Kiln cast glass, mineral sand, lightbox / 250 pieces: 40 x 200(cir.) cm (installed) / Courtesy: Megan Cope and Milani Gallery, Brisbane

‘In Queer Time’ Film Program

In conjunction with ‘Embodied Knowledge’, participating artist Callum McGrath has curated a free film program ‘In Queer Time‘ screening in the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA from 12 to 24 August 2022.

As part of the cinema program, Callum McGrath spoke with Lizzie Borden, the Director of Born in Flames about her 1983 film. Read the in conversation on the QAGOMA Blog

View the cinema program

Born in Flames 1983
The Salt Mines 1990
The Living End 1992
Poison 1991
J’ai Tué Ma Mere (I Killed My Mother) 2001
Weekend 2011
We Need to Talk About Kevin 2011
Wildness 2012
Tangerine 2015
Shakedown 2018

Promotional still from Wildness 2012 / Director: Wu Tsang / Image courtesy: Electronic Arts Intermix

‘Embodied Knowledge: Queensland Contemporary Art’ is in Queensland Art Gallery’s Gallery 4, Gallery 5 (Henry and Amanda Bartlett Gallery) and the Watermall from 13 August 2022 to 22 January 2023.

Acknowledgment of Country
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Gallery stands in Brisbane. We pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present and, in the spirit of reconciliation, acknowledge the immense creative contribution First Australians make to the art and culture of this country.

It is customary in many Indigenous communities not to mention the name or reproduce photographs of the deceased. All such mentions and photographs are with permission, however, care and discretion should be exercised.

Reconciliation Action Plan
QAGOMA has launched its inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to guide its contributions to reconciliation. View the 2022–24 RAP.