As parts of Australia return to business as usual (and other parts bunker down again), the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts has reopened its doors with Hatched 2020 National Graduate Show. Now in its 29th year, the annual survey exhibition features 24 artists, all recent graduates from art schools across Australia.
NAVA Director Esther Anatolitis calls Hatched an “extraordinary snapshot and forecaster of what the next generation of artists is going to be thinking,” with every iteration revealing a new set of artistic preoccupations. Curatorial fellow Miranda Johnson reflects on the patterns that can be seen within the 2020 crop: “These works range from intensely personal subjects of family histories, gender identity and mental health, to global issues of surveillance culture, medical capitalism and the politics of appearing in a crowd,” she says. “These issues are not distinct from one another but appear as a matter of scale.”
Selection panellist Nathan Beard—a nationally renowned artist who himself exhibited in Hatched in 2008— “I was really drawn into works that were idiosyncratic, or had a very particular and specific worldview that felt fully formed,” he says. “You’ll see a diverse range of artists represented, and each of those artists really demonstrates a point of view.”
As usual, the works range widely in tone and materiality. An installation by Siahne Rogers, “A big-shot goes belly up…” “I’ve heard this one before”, muses on the foibles of Rogers’ grandfather’s iconic business empire (Perth restaurant chain Fast Eddy’s) through the tropes of slapstick—fake Grecian pillars, modelling-clay banana peels and all. In sombre contrast, a video performance by Saleheh Gholami responds to the traumatic experience of detained asylum seekers, incorporating everyday objects banned within detention centres—in this case, a folding chair and a ceiling fan—due to their potential for self-harm.
“One of the themes that came up in quite a few of the works is this notion of care and community,” Beard points out. For example, This is a Product of Self-care, 2019-ongoing, by L.A.K.R.M Bruce, centres the pleasures and repetitions of craft as a personal coping mechanism. Jody Rallah’s 250 Years (The Coolamon Project) draws on First Nations histories and the ‘yarning circle’ through an installation of ceramic coolamons, made in collaboration with community.
Perhaps an inevitable response to a time marked by chronic uncertainty, this renewed focus on care and community digs deep into what makes us human. If this is what the next generation of artists is thinking about, we’re in good hands.
The Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts is currently open, with social distancing and hygiene measures in place.