QAGOMA Director Suhanya Raffel Talks Asia Pacific Triennial Launch, Pt. 1

QAGOMA Director Suhanya Raffel Talks Asia Pacific Triennial Launch, Pt. 1

This weekend marks the opening of the twentieth anniversary edition of the “The 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art” (APT7) at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) and Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane.

Heralded as the most ambitious APT to date, APT7 expands the Triennial's geographic scope and physical scale, with over 290 works by 75 artists and artist groups from 27 countries on display across all of GOMA and key spaces at QAG until April 14, 2013.

Some of the highlights include a 50-metre snake skeleton by senior Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping spiralling from the ceiling of the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) to the Watermall below, and dramatic architectural installations and ceremonial masks by artists from Papua New Guinea at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA).

According to QAGOMA Acting Director Suhanya Raffel, major commissions for APT7 included works by leading artists Atul Dodiya (India); LN Tallur (India); Richard Maloy (New Zealand); Shirley Macnamara (Australia) and Tiffany Chung (Vietnam/USA).

“New and recent works by eight Australians, including five Aboriginal artists, are among the exhibition highlights, with photography, sculpture, installation and painting representing some of the most dynamic aspects of Australian art today,” she said.

More than 80 Australian and international artists, curators, writers and performers will take part in events across the opening weekend at GOMA and QAG on December 8 and 9.

In part one of the exclusive interview with Artinfo Australia Executive Editor Nicholas Forrest featured below, QAGOMA Acting Director Suhanya Raffel discusses the opening weekend and the significance of APT7.

What can visitors expect from the opening weekend?

With an in-flux of artists and international visitors, the opening weekend program will include an unprecedented number of performances, talks and panel discussions. There will be dance performers from the Tiwi Islands, two groups from Papua New Guinea performing under the major commissions, and, musical performances responding to the works of Iran’s Parastou Forouhar and Indonesia’s ruangrupa.

Performance seems to be a focus of the opening weekend, to what extent does performance play a part in the cultural/artistic identities of the different nations?

For some of the artists in APT7, performance is intrinsically linked to the visual work. This is directly honoured in performances by Tiwi Island dancers around the worth of Telstra Art Award winning artist Timothy Cook, and groups from the Kwoma and Abelam clans from PNG. Other performances are more tangential but still engage with the spirit of the work. Parastou Forouhar’s Written room, for example, with its sweeping strokes of Persian calligraphy on the walls and floor, feels very lyrical, and a Persian musician will perform a new composition by local composer Nicholas Ng inside the immersive space.

Indonesia’s ruangrupa developed their installation following research into musical and social history in Jakarta and Brisbane, and out of this grew an offer for a band of venerable Brisbane punk musicians to perform the music of their fictional Indonesian punk group from the 70s, The Kuda. Through a love story between one of the band members and an Australian journalist , they draw links between the music scenes under the Suharto and Bjelke-Petersen regimes of the era in which the band was supposed to have been active.

Which opening weekend event are you most looking forward to?

I can’t answer that! This weekend is a culmination of 3 years work and the building of incredible relationships with artists and people across the region, I just know the entire weekend will be outstanding.

For more information on "The 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art", visit the website here