Present, curated by writer/curator Kate Britton (who is also the director of Art Month Sydney), brings together a group of unrepresented artists: Kalanjay Dhir, Caroline Garcia, Get to Work, Samuel Hodge, Claudia Nicholson, and Athena Thebus. For each of these artists, and the trio behind Get to Work, identity is at the core of their practice. Their work seeks to make those who have existed until very recently outside the mainstream, culturally visible.
Britton says, “For centuries there has been silencing, and sometimes violence, toward anyone that can’t fit into what the powers that be deem ideal or default. People of colour, queer and trans bodies, those living in non-nuclear and non-traditional families, for example – who haven’t seen themselves represented in the public sphere – have been made invisible. It is time not just to acknowledge this problem, but to start to rectify it in some small way through platforming self-representation of those who have been ignored and represented by others for too long.”
The work selected interacts with conversations about identity outside the normative and artists who, according to Britton, “refuse to be flattened into one thing, or one label”.
The other element of Present examines changes in the art sector that assist artists who choose to remain outside the traditional model of the commercial gallery. Britton noted, “Some artists prefer a more fluid approach… we’re seeing different models too – studios that encourage critical curatorial engagement, online spaces, public and non-commercial institutions opening up to more experimental practices.” In Present, artists open their experiences, often autobiographical, through their work. Britton concludes, “Each of these artists/ collectives help us to reflect on our own identity, what we take for granted and what needs a closer look.”