From the Director: Looking back with an eye to the future

Melati Suryodarmo performs I’m a ghost in my own house on the opening weekend of APT8, a 12 hour durational work in which she crushes hundreds of kilograms of charcoal as a transformative and symbolic act of life’s energy


A special opening weekend performance featured Kanak choreographers and dancers Richard Digoué and Simane Wénéthem, accompanied by musician Tio Massing and Yumi Danis (We Dance) co-curator Marcel Meltherorong
Justin Shoulder and Bhenji Ra reimagine characters from traditional mythology and folklore in their processional performances moving between QAG and GOMA over the opening weekend celebrations

More than 32 000 visitors streamed in through the Gallery’s doors during the APT8 opening weekend in November, making it our most successful weekend since GOMA launched in 2006. Among those visitors, almost 14 000 were part of a huge opening night party, more than 5500 experienced opening weekend and APT8 Live public programs — of which there are more to come — and around 2500 children participated in the 12 Children’s Art Centre activities.

The renewed APT8 Conference generated a robust round of discussions based on the presentation of contemporary art from the Asia Pacific. This fully subscribed conference was held in collaboration with the newly formed Brisbane Consortium for the Visual Arts and dovetailed into the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand’s own annual gathering.

Overall, it was clear on that remarkably lively weekend alone how much importance our visiting public — whether local, interstate or international — attach to the APT. Online, the #APT8 hashtag that weekend reached more than 1 million users on Twitter, in addition to thousands of user photos shared on Instagram and Facebook. The feedback has been truly heart-warming.

Immediately following the opening in November, I was fortunate to attend the inauguration of the National Gallery of Singapore — an institution where former QAGOMA curatorial manager Russell Storer, who contributed much to the early development of APT8, is now Senior Curator. Between the launch of the NGS, the opening of APT8 and the simultaneous opening of ‘Time of others’ at the Singapore Art Museum, on which we were a curatorial collaborator, it felt like a vital moment for contemporary and modern art in the region.

There are several weeks of APT8 to go, so I urge you to revisit this truly astounding exhibition if you can. I am still surprised when I head out into the gallery spaces! Our first ever APT-related intervention into the Australian collection at QAG where Brook Andrew’s application of a bold Wiradjuri pattern to the gallery walls, and the suspension of interposed images from his striking TIME series, sees Australia’s relatively recent European history against the sweeping context of its Indigenous history. This installation is one of most remarked-upon elements of APT8.

APT8QAG Gallery 10.1Brook Andrew
Brook Andrew’s installation Intervening Time currently on view at QAG

We also look forward to major surveys of work made in the last 10 to 15 years by two compelling, if very different, artists. The work of late Mornington Island painter Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori is the focus of an exhibition at QAG from 21 May, while the photographs of the renowned New York artist Cindy Sherman will open at GOMA a week later, from 28 May. One of the most important artists of the New York ‘Picture’ generation, Sherman’s work remain sharply relevant today, to the point of appearing prescient in its deep consideration of how identity can be simultaneously concealed and revealed in photography.

Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #462 2007-08, purchased with funds from Tim Fairfax, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation

As we draw closer to GOMA’s tenth anniversary in December 2016, there’ll be plenty to explore and celebrate at the Gallery. I look forward to sharing some of these great moments with you.

The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT)
is the Gallery’s flagship exhibition focused on the work of Asia, the Pacific and Australia.
21 November 2015 – 10 April 2016