Cement Fondu celebrates Suburbia


Cement Fondu, a new multi-disciplinary gallery, has opened in Sydney. Its inaugural exhibition Suburbia celebrates and unpacks the peripheries of the city.

Situated in what was Stills, a gallery dedicated to photography, Cement Fondu is headed by former Stills director Josephine Skinner and Megan Monte. Aiming to present a fresh, playful and intelligent art experience that appeals to a broad audience, Skinner speaks of their shared curatorial vision of what an art space should be. “We want to be offering something for everyone,” says Skinner. “Knowledgeable art aficionados, and people who are looking for something a bit different to do on the weekend.” The ethos of the gallery is expressed through its playful name. “On one hand Cement Fondu speaks to a strong substantial presence”, says Skinner. “On the other hand it speaks to a fluidity and a sense of fun, and the fact that fondue is a really social occasion. So those two things, the substance, really seeking to make impact, and having this social approach, are what we are trying to balance.”

Cement Fondu will also include a project space for public workshops and artist residencies, and an art store.

Suburbia includes works by Nerine Tilmouth, Louise Daniels and Elizabeth Nampitjinpa (Tangentyere Artists), Sweatshop Western, Literacy Movement, Kenny Pittock, Chris Dolman, Paul Yore, Caroline Garcia, Amber Koroluk-Stephenson, Shahmen Suku, Tina Havelock Stevens, Garry Trinh, Rosie Deacon, and Daata Editions with Ed Fornieles and Amalia Ulman.

The theme was chosen for its nod to the location of the gallery, accessibility, and richness. Skinner says they want to “really acknowledge the geographic location that we’re in, and reach out to suburbs and beyond to western Sydney.” And she acknowledges its commonality as a concept. “Everyone, wherever you are, has some kind of experience of the suburbs, or an idea of suburbia through popular culture such as TV shows and movies,” she says. “It’s something that everyone can relate to. That was really key to us.”

Tina Havelock-Stevens, REWIND ROOM, 2015, Performance Space, Carriageworks. Documentation of performance

The theme also allows multiple angles to arise. “We have this conventional sense of the image of suburbia as one of cultural conservatism, of neat houses that look the same with white picket fences and demarcated lawns, and we really wanted to draw on artists who are teasing those ideas apart and redefining them through perspectives of difference,” Skinner explains. Participating artists’ concerns include the home as a safe space for exploring identity, the beauty of finding connection and common experience in the banal, and a critical look at social injustice experienced by immigrant communities.

Future programing of the gallery will focus on strong curatorial shows.

“We overlap in that we both come from a curatorial background more so than arts management,” says Skinner. “We are both very passionate about curating. It’s where the joy comes for us and we see that as a very creative process.” The next exhibition pairs Australian artist Emily Parsons-Lord with the French Turner prize winner Laure Prouvost, the following group show Between Suns is a socially engaged project exploring anxiety through the migrant experience, and the year will conclude with Warm Bodies, a post-apocalyptic horror themed exhibition designed to coincide with the Halloween season.

Cement Fondu
15 March – 29 April

Preview Words by Zara Sigglekow