ANTHEM ARI: KEEMON WILLIAMS, RUAA AL-RIKABI, RHANJELL VILLANUEVA, LUCY NGUYỄN-HUNT, REINA TAKEUCHI
6 – 21 February, 2021
Our annual blessing of the space and special Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony performed by UNCLE STEVE CORA and NEVILLE ‘TORRY’ TORRESHEEBA
RATIONAL IDENTITY delves into the familial knowledge and histories intrinsic to each artists’ practice and dissects what it means to be people of colour working in an Australian context. Contextualizing the artists experiences as ratios within a broader national population, this exhibition presents five microcosms of identity, deconstructing and reconciling personal narratives from complex cultural perspectives.
Amidst looming, ever-present alienation within the arts and broader community, ANTHEM was born out of a desire to extend tenderness, elevation, and appreciation to culturally diverse voices. Bonding over shared experiences of misrepresentation, tokenism, fetishisation, and blatant erasure within the Australian arts and media at large, the co-founders aspire to create an independent alternative for underrepresented identities. ANTHEM seeks to provide a dedicated platform to celebrate the practices of First Nations, diasporic, and LGBTQI+ identifying artists of colour in Australia. Through artistic activation and decolonial gestures, ANTHEM divulges the realities of those whose perspectives are often sidelined and provides a safe space for emerging BIPOC artists to explore their practices amongst their cultural contemporaries.
LUCY NGUYỄN-HUNT is an interdisciplinary Vietnamese and Samoan/Cook Islander Australian artist with an abiding passion for sharing lived experiences through her artistic practice. Namely, this manifests as dismantling preconceived notions of identity through the lens of a camera and her culturally hybrid and queer gaze. Working predominantly in photography and moving image and implicating the body as self as a material form, Nguyễn-Hunt investigates the structures in place with consistently other outliers to a socially constructed ‘standard’. Regarding her practice as a safe space for licking her own wounds, vulnerability, self-awareness, and authentic representation is at the heart of her work. Nguyễn-Hunt works to prioritise representation and visibility, and voice lived experiences through the process of self-negotiation and preservation.
REINA TAKEUCHI is an Australian-Japanese artist-researcher, dance maker, curator and writer interested in interdisciplinary collaboration and facilitating embodied experiences of contemporary art. She explores how sensorial experience can be enhanced through ritualistic performance, interactive installations, and time-based media. Her work utilises choreographic processes and the transitory qualities of sound and action to meditate on transculturation, displacement, diaspora, and the ethereal experiences of her peripatetic upbringing across Japan, India, Thailand, and Australia. These processes allow for a clarity of somatic contemplation for the artist and she, in turn, explores the potential for this sensitivity to be shared with the viewer.
RHANJELL VILLANUEVA is an emerging Meanjin-based (Brisbane) Filipino artist whose practice critically analyses the traditional Filipino culture against the language and values of western societies. In response to his upbringing, his practice traverses the multitude and intricacies of cultural identity by unravelling post-colonial patterns and cultural conflict. Working across an array of media including sculpture, moving image, and video installation, Villanueva materialises deep transcultural knowledge and narratives rooted from oppression and the feeling of displacement. The resulting works focus on decolonising the eye, demonstrating the subjectivity of ‘foreign in a domestic sense’ towards the metaphysics of Filipino Futurism. By sharing tales of the diaspora, he aims to engage with other persons of colour and urge them to consider what they could become, beyond what they are expected to be.
RUAA AL-RIKABI is an Iraqi-Syrian Australian emerging contemporary artist whose practice investigates themes of intersectional identity, self-preservation, and re-representation of desirability. Ruaa’s practice looks at the rich experience of intersectional identities and how this can be linked to experiences of displacement and difference, shown through an ongoing development of a living archive of her self-identity. Within her practise, Ruaa aims to create space for other marginalised communities by encouraging radical expression of self and multifaceted identities. Ruaa employs materials which she deems significant to her self-identity as surrogates to encapsulate her lived experiences, this includes hair, food, and photographs. Through rejecting essentialist assumptions about intersectional BIPOC identity, Ruaa’s practice aims to engage in an act of decolonisation that empowers and liberates intersectional identities.
KEEMON WILLIAMS is a queer interdisciplinary Meanjin (Brisbane) based artist of Koa, Kuku Yalanji and Meriam Mir descent. He utilizes a diverse range of mediums and performative elements to interrogate the relationships between location, personal histories, and the manifestation of culture in a postcolonial world. His practice seeks to critically examine facets of his identity and its intrinsic tethering to the wider context of being “Australian.” Responding to realms of architecture, cultural production, and pseudo-ethnic representations, Keemon reconciles a sense of indigeneity and occupancy within the everyday.