Unpack the ‘art speak’ behind contemporary art


Would you drop a Han dynasty urn (c.206BC– 220AD) for art? Watch our Confronting Contemporary Art series hosted by Dr Louise R Mayhew which examines the challenging, intriguing and often confusing concepts and ‘art speak’ behind contemporary artworks.

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Ai Weiwei, China b.1957 / Dropping a Han dynasty urn 1995 / Gelatin silver photograph on paper, AP / Three sheets: 180 x 169.5 cm (each) / Purchased 2006 through The Queensland Government’s Gallery of Modern Art Acquisitions Fund / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Ai Weiwei

My Child Could Have Done That!

Participants are asked to ‘ready your outrage, your confusion and your curiosity’ to explore abstract and conceptual artworks that are often criticized for lacking traditional ‘skill’. Featuring Willem de Kooning, Mary Kelley, Ai Weiwei and Vincent Namatjira.

Like the Abstract Expressionists, children embrace spontaneity, and they’re not afraid of new ways of doing things. Like feminist artists, they value the smallest of treasures, found in the street and in the home. Like faux naive painters, children paint without the kind of burdens of art history or technique. And, like Ai Weiwei, children sometimes break things. Art history is filled with works that your child could have done, and I don’t think that that’s a bad thing. Dr Louise R Mayhew

The Cleaner Threw It Out

Find out what makes objects art, with a look at art that has been destroyed, thrown away or eaten. Ponder the question, ‘when did navigating galleries become so tricky?’ Featuring Gerhard Richter, Tracey Emin, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Spencer Finch.

Artwork is not the food or the objects, but it’s the relationships that are generated. Relational artworks set up the conditions for micro communities and micro utopias. They’re small-scale encounters, they’re modest and temporary, and they enable us to live in better ways right here, right now. Dr Louise R Mayhew

That Looks Like Fun!

Go on a journey exploring works full of joy and wonder – from performances full of nonsense and play, to memorable and immersive installations featuring Emily Floyd, Pipilotti Rist, Nick Cave and Carsten Höller

Maybe these artworks can remind us to approach contemporary art with the kind of openness, curiosity and integrity of children, who would never think to say ‘I don’t get it’, but instead ask – ‘why’ and ‘how’, and ‘can I touch it?’. Dr Louise R Mayhew

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QAGOMA’s Virtual Events are proudly supported by Presenting Partner: HSBC

HSBC has always had a strong commitment to building connections. Art has the power to connect like no other. Breaking down barriers and telling unique stories. As Presenting Partner of QAGOMA’s virtual events we invite audiences to connect with the world around them. Being part of something inspires us to see the bigger picture and consider a world beyond ourselves.

Featured image detail: Ai Weiwei Dropping a Han dynasty urn 1995