Featuring multi-channel video works by London-Istanbul based duo Noor Afshan Mirza and Brad Butler, Australian artist Reko Rennie and Kazakhstani artist Almagul Menlibayeva, Untimely Geographies examines critical moments of social transformation across different eras, cultures and topographies.
The exhibition sheds light on postcolonial narratives by juxtaposing the work of artists from Australia, the United Kingdom and central Asia. It Investigates relationships between individuals, communities and power structures, and brings a personal story – which references a matriarchal Indigenous culture from northern NSW – into dialogue with contemporary feminist perspectives.
Paying homage to cinematic genres such as the road movie and film noir, the artists draw on cosmology, crash theory, symbolism and myth to address questions about cultural identity, inequality and agency.
Utilising verbal and non-verbal language systems, the participating artists blend fantasy with fact to inspire fresh perspectives on historical events and their intergenerational implications.
Curated by Kelli Alred
Presented in partnership with The SUBSTATION.
International artists Almagul Menlibayeva (Kazakhstan/Germany) and Noor Afshan Mirza (Turkey/United Kingdom) are undertaking four-week residencies in Melbourne with support from Channels Festival and RMIT University School of Art through SITUATE.
Almagul Menlibayeva is an award-winning contemporary artist who works across video, performance, photography and mixed media installation. Referencing the social, economic and political transformation of Central Asia, Menlibayeva's work addresses the decolonisation and reimagining of gender, the effects of environmental degradation and the mythologies of Eurasian nomadic Indigenous people.
Menlibayeva's work has been featured internationally at the Venice Biennale; the Moscow Biennale, Russia; the Gangwon International Biennale, South Korea and the Sydney Biennale, Australia. She has exhibited widely at venues such as Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, M HKA, Antwerp, Belgium; Queens Museum, NY, USA; Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Ithaca, NY, USA; Stenersen Museum, Oslo, Norway; ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe, Germany; University of California, San Diego, CA, USA; Center of Contemporary Art, Zamok Ujazdowskie, Warsaw, Poland; Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland; Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City, Mexico; Kulturzentrum bei den Minoriten, Graz, Austria; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia.
Her videos have also been shown at the International Short Film Festival Winterthur, Switzerland; Sao Paulo International Short Film Festival, Brazil; Santiago International Film Festival, Chile; International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany; International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Les Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin/Madrid; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; and Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France; and Videonale 13, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany.
Noor Afshan Mirza and Brad Butler
Noor Afshan Mirza (previously known as Karen Mirza) and Brad Butler’s practice spans video, installation, performance, writing and curating. Until recently, their collaborative projects took the form of a fictional institution, The Museum of Non-Participation (2008–2016). Both graduates of the Royal College of Art (London), coming from backgrounds in painting and anthropology respectively, their research-based practice investigates the conditions of a postmodern and postcolonial world, through the lens of intersectional feminism and radical pedagogy. Drawing influence from critical moments of change emerging out of public protest and debate their work often involves discursive, performative or participatory elements, which operate as a device for questioning the conditions of political involvement and resistance.
Selected exhibitions include: The Scar, Delfina Foundation (2018) and HOME (2018); The Embassy of Non-Participation, Biennale of Sydney, (2016); MIRRORCITY, Hayward Gallery (2015); The Unreliable Narrator, Whitechapel Gallery (2015); The Museum of Gesture, La Capella, Barcelona (2014); The New Deal, Walker Art Centre (2013); and Guest of Citation, Performa 13 (2013).
The Museum of Non-Participation was nominated for the 2014/15 Artes Mundi 6 Award for visual artists who engage with the human condition, social reality and lived experience. Mirza & Butler were recipients of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Visual Arts 2015. Noor Afshan Mirza and Brad Butler were also the founders of the artist film and video space no.w.here (2001–current).
Reko Rennie is an interdisciplinary artist who explores his Aboriginal identity through a variety of contemporary media. Through his art, Rennie provokes discussion surrounding Indigenous culture and identity in contemporary urban environments. Largely autobiographical, his commanding 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.
Selected exhibitions include: Personal Structures, 57th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy 2017; The End of Time. The Beginning of Time, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne 2017; Sovereignty, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2016; XIII Bienale de Cuenca, Cuenca, Ecuador, 2016; Jogja Calling, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney, 2016; Wall Drawings, Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyon, France, 2016; Painting. More Painting, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2016; St Art Festival, Delhi, India, 2016; Tarnanthi Festival, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 2015; Murruwaygu, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2015; Monster Pop!, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, 2015; Personal Structures: Crossing Borders, Palazzo Mora, Venice, Italy, 2015; Cut It Out, Urban Nation Gallery, Berlin, 2015.
Rennie’s work has been acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria; National Gallery of Australia; Art Gallery of New South Wales; Art Gallery of Western Australia; Kluge-Ruhe Institute, University of Virginia, USA; Koorie Heritage Trust; ArtBank; New Contemporary Art Museum, in Nanjing, Jiangsu, CHINA among others.
Reko Rennie, OA_RR, 2017. Photo: Justin McManus. Courtesy of the artist and STATION.
Noor Afshan Mirza and Brad Butler, The Scar (video still), 2018. Courtesy of the artists.
Almagul Menlibayeva, Fire talks to me, 2015, (three-channel video still). Commissioned by YARAT. Courtesy of American-Eurasian Art Advisors LLC.