Art Forum

Art Forum is the Victorian College of the Arts' series of weekly talks by leading artists and curators. Providing a rich insight into their work and its relationship with the world, each guest speaker shares the themes, processes and ideas that drive their practice.

Upcoming Art Forums

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The concept of world-building lies at the centre of Jess Johnson’s work, which reflects her interests in science fiction, language, technology, and concepts of consciousness. Over several years, her drawings have documented an increasingly complex fictional world; they are meshworks of symbology, humanoid clones, messianic figures, and alien runes placed in architectural settings. Her drawing practice feeds into installations and collaborations in animation, music, fashion, Virtual Reality, and textile art. Jess has undertaken studio residencies at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, NY the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire; the International Curatorial & Studio Program in Brooklyn, NY; the Bemis Center in Nebraska and the University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery. In May of 2018, Johnson and collaborator Simon Ward premiered TERMINUS, a major five-part virtual reality commission and solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. TERMINUS is currently on a multi-year tour throughout Australasia. Jess Johnson lives and works in New York and Auckland.

Megan Cope is a Quandamooka artist and curator. Her site-specific sculptural installations, video work, paintings and public art investigate issues relating to identity, the environment and mapping practices. Her recent projects consider how colonisation has reshaped the Australian landscapeMost recently, Cope’s work was featured in The Image is not Nothing (Concrete Archives) at the Margaret Lawrence Gallery and ACE Open, Adelaide; the NGV Triennial 2020,  Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art 2020, The National 2017, and Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial 2017 and many more. In 2017-19 Cope was the Official Australian War Artist conducting research in the Middle East, the Australian War Memorial and the National Archives of Australia. Megan is a member of Aboriginal art collective proppaNOW.

The Ryan Sisters is a multidisciplinary collaboration between sisters Pip Ryan and Natalie Ryan which exists outside their own practices.  Together they explore ideas that are associated with humour, horror, death and the absurd.  Using combination of spatial installation and intervention they reference these themes while playing with dualities that exist between the merging of their identities. Recent exhibitions include – The John Fries Award Australian Centre for Contemporary Art 2019; Collaboratory at Latrobe Art Institute; Disquiet (Off You) at Dark MOFO; Gruesome Twosome at Nicholas Projects and '1000 forms of Fear' at the Australian Experimental Art Foundation.

Tariku Shiferawis a New York based artist who explores mark-making addressing the physical and metaphysical spaces of Painting and social structures. He is currently part a nationally traveling exhibition with the Smithsonian Institution (2019-2022). Shiferaw’s most recent exhibitions include It’s a love thang, it’s a joy thang, his first solo show with Galerie Lelong in New York City (2021) and Unbound, at the Zuckerman Museum of Art (2020). Other museum exhibitions include the 2017 Whitney Biennial, as part of Occupy Museums; A Poet*hical Wager, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (2017); and What’s Love Got to Do With It?, at The Drawing Center (2019).

Shiferaw was a participant of the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program (2019), Open Sessions at the Drawing Center (2018-2020), and a current artist in residence at Silver art Projects in New York City.

Reko Rennie is an interdisciplinary artist who explores his Aboriginal identity through contemporary media. Through his art, Rennie provokes discussion surrounding Indigenous culture and identity in contemporary urban environments. Largely autobiographical, his works combine the iconography of his Kamilaroi heritage with stylistic elements of graffiti. Merging traditional diamond-shaped designs, hand-drawn symbols and repetitive patterning to subvert romantic ideologies of Aboriginal identity. Recent projects have involved multi-channel video installations of him creating donuts and thrashing a hand painted Rolls Royce him on his ancestral land. His work has been included in important national and international surveys of contemporary art including Tarnanthi at the Art Gallery of South Australia, the 57th Venice Biennale and Defying Empire at the National Gallery of Australia.

Chris Bond is an artist and character who inhabits the uncanny worlds of his own invention. His fictional scenarios require him to adopt auto-fictive, pseudonymous and collaborative authorial personae in which he attempts to shift habitual response, experience new ways of seeing and cultivate atypical expressions. Fictional artists, writers and organisations are typically invented as a support mechanism, which provide Bond with documentary material that he appropriates and recontextualises within his painting and installation practices. Bond’s work has been shown in major curated projects at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Heide Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and Samstag Museum, Adelaide. In 2013, he was awarded the Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize, and in 2017 the BalletLab McMahon Contemporary Art Award and an Australia Council Art Development Grant. His work was included in the 2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art and The National: New Australian Art Biennial in 2017.

Adelaide based Michelle Nikou makes sculpture and installation that inventively uses traditional art materials and casting techniques. Taking and adapting items from her domestic setting, Nikou invests these everyday objects with renewed significance and heightened meaning. Metaphor is used in her work as a device to disrupt singular notions of truth and identity. Investigating subjectivity, emotion and the unconscious, Nikou’s work explores the power of affective language to encourage intuitive responses from the viewer. Recent solo and group exhibitions include The National 2021, Carriageworks Sydney; From Will to Form, TarraWarra Biennale 2018. Heide Museum of Art, Victoria, presented a mid-career survey of the artist which toured multiple Australian venues between 2016 and 2018. Nikou’s work is currently on show in This Is A Poem, Buxton Contemporary Melbourne.

Anne Marsh is a Professorial Research Fellow at the Victorian College of the Arts. She is an art historian, critic and curator of contemporary Australian art and author of Doing Feminism: Women’s Art and Feminist Criticism in Australia (2021), Performance RituaL Document (2014), LOOK: Contemporary Australian Photography, since 1980 (2010), Pat Brassington: This is Not a Photograph (2006), The Darkroom: Photography and the Theatre of Desire (2003), Body and Self: Performance Art in Australian, 1969-1992 (1993, 2015), and with Melissa Miles and Daniel Palmer she edited The Culture of Photography in Public Space (2015). Her curatorial projects include: Performance Presence/Video Time at the Australian Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide, 2015 and Doing Feminism/Sharing the World a three-month artist-in-residence program at the Norma Redpath House and Studios in Carlton, 2017-18.

Kimberley Moulton is a Yorta Yorta woman originally from Shepparton, she is a curator, writer and currently Senior Curator South-Eastern Aboriginal Collections at Museums Victoria and Artistic Associate for RISING Festival Melbourne. Kimberley works with knowledge, histories and futures at the intersection of First Peoples historical material and contemporary art. Her practice includes working to extend the paradigm of what exhibitions and research in and out of institutions can be for First Peoples communities, cultural strengthening through collections access for youth and supporting First Peoples artistic practice in museums. Kimberley has held curatorial and community arts development roles at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Melbourne Museum for over ten years. In 2018 she was Museums Victoria lead curator for Mandela: My Life, an exhibition on Nelson Mandela at Melbourne Museum in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation Johannesburg. Independently Kimberley has written extensively for publications worldwide and held curatorial and writing research fellowships across Europe, UK, U.S.A, South Asia and North America. In 2019 Kimberley won the Power Institute National Indigenous Art Writing Award and in 2020 was the co-editor for Artlink Indigenous 40.2. Current board roles include Deputy Chair Shepparton Art Museum and director on the board for Barpirdhila Foundation.

Katerina is of Banaban, I-Kiribati and African American heritage, born and raised in Fiji. She is Associate Professor of Pacific Studies and Deputy Director - Higher Degree Research Training - in the School of Culture, History and Language, Australian National University. She is also Vice-President of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies, Art Editor for The Contemporary Pacific: a Journal of Island Affairsauthor of Consuming Ocean Island (2015) and a visual artist. Her research-based, multimedia installation, Project Banaba, exploring the impacts of phosphate mining, colonialism, antipodean agriculture and fertiliser, is curated by Yuki Kihara; originally commissioned by Carriageworks (2017) and was on show at MTG Hawke’s Bay Tai Ahuriri (2019). Katerina’s 3-screen video Mine Lands: for Teresia, was part of a group exhibition, Garden of the Six Seasons, at Para Site, Hong Kong (2020). In late 2021 Project Banaba will open at Te Uru Waitakere Gallery in Auckland in collaboration with a Banaban community-based arts revitalisation project, Te Kaneati.

Previous Art Forums

From 26 March 2020, previous Art Forums can be viewed in the below playlist.

Supported by

Holding Redlich - Firm | Best Lawyers

The Victorian College of the Arts is grateful to Holding Redlich for its generous support of Art Forum.

Melbourne Reconciliation Network

Art Forum Semester Two is co-presented with the Melbourne Reconciliation Network.