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

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.

Painting and installation artist Tariku Shiferaw was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in Los Angeles and currently based in New York. Shiferaw explores processes of mark-making that address the physical and metaphysical spaces of art and social structures. In his ongoing series One of These Black Boys, he uses song titles by musicians from the African diaspora to title each work – ranging from Hip-hop to R&B, Jazz, Blues, Reggae, and Afrobeats. In using such titles, his works present other reference points outside of the Western art canon. Tariku Shiferaw’s work has been shown in the 2017 Whitney Biennial , New York; A Poet*hical Wager at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Ohio; Unbound at the Zuckerman Museum of Art (ZMA), Kennesaw, Georgia; Men of Change, at the California African American Museum (CAAM), Los Angeles; and What’s Love Got to Do with It? at The Drawing Center, New York.

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.

Juliana Engberg is an award winning and internationally acclaimed artistic director, curator, cultural and event producer and writer.  She is currently engaged as Senior Curator Global Contemporary at the Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand. Before commencing this role, she was Programme Director of the European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017, She was also recently the Curator for Angelica Mesiti: ASSEMBLY at the Biennale di Venezia 2019.

In this special lecture, Juliana will focus on the work of artist and academic Associate Professor Kate Daw 1965-2020. Kate was a significant figure within the Australian art community, exhibiting widely, nationally and internationally, since 1992. Recent exhibitions include Unfinished Business, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne and All the Better to See You With: Fairy Tales Transformed, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne (both 2018); Telling Tales: Excursions in Narrative Form, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney (2016). Juliana has had a long association with Kate’s exploration of the role of narrative through painting, performance, ceramics and installation and has curated Kate’s work into major projects including the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014) and All That Was Solid Melts currently on show at the Auckland Art Gallery.

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.

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.