If the future is to be worth anything


Emmaline Zanelli, who generally works with photography, has been creating a performance and video piece with her Nonna (grandmother), who used to work at an old car manufacturer making interior seating. Together, the pair have visited the old worksite, re-enacting the movements of labour and use of machinery. It speaks to the action of work, generational memory and shared family history.

It’s also one of ten artworks featured in ACE Open’s 2020 South Australian Artist Survey If the future is to be worth anything, where the Adelaide-based contemporary art gallery invited artists and collectives to create new work, embarking upon unrealised projects. “It’s artist-led,” explains ACE Open artistic director, Patrice Sharkey. “It’s about artists who have something particular they want to achieve, but needed curatorial support, funding, and the institutional backing to be ambitious and to take the work somewhere else.”

This ‘somewhere else’ is wide-ranging in form: literary journals, performance, activism, installation, collaboration, painting, video and sculpture. While fine print, an online art-centred magazine, is creating a text-based and performative work, Kate Bohunnis is crafting a kinetic sculpture looking at body tension and space, and Sundari Carmody is continuing her investigation into sculpture and perception. With many works resonating from personal experience, Aida Azin is undertaking an installation of new paintings that look at her Filipino, Iranian and Australian heritage; Carly Dodd is producing portraits of family and Indigenous community members from South Australia; and Sandra Saunders is melding painting and activism, referencing animal extinction and Australia’s recent bushfires.

In supporting an emerging arts ecology, Sharkey notes how each of the works engage, in some way, with the world: “We’re bringing together these artists and making this statement around new, experimental practice, focussing on the social and political voices that are emanating from South Australia.”

If the future is to be worth anything: 2020 South Australian Artist Survey
ACE Open
12 September–12 December

Preview Words by Tiarney Miekus