Spot Fire 2: Highlights

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Cara Pinchbeck presenting 'Remaining relevant: the changing roles of collections'.

What notions of spectacle were active in 1879? How do we understand the grandiose cultural vision that was Sydney’s International Exhibition, especially once it burst into flames? Spot Fire Symposium 2: Spectacle, manifestation, performance at the Art Gallery of NSW was a day of conversation and reflection that set out to answer these questions. Click the links below to watch recordings of each presentation.

In an interview with Jonathan Jones, Gadigal Elder Uncle Charles “Chicka” Madden shared his experiences of Sydney, a place that has always been the site of meeting, performance and celebration for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

Jonathan Jones in conversation with Uncle Charles "Chicka" Madden.

Dr Peter Kohane
discussed James Barnet’s unified vision for the centre of Sydney and his ability to “knit” a building into a city’s urban fabric. This colonial architect designed the Garden Palace as a theatrical stage for the massive civic event that it housed, the 1879 Sydney International Exhibition.

Dr Linda Young explored the Exhibition’s Victorian celebration of consumerism and technology as a sign of civilisation. Steven Miller shared the role of the Exhibition in shaping the Art Gallery of NSW.

Dr Lindy Young presenting 'The Sydney International Exhibition'.

Wesley Enoch
, the new director of Sydney Festival, captivated the audience with his inquiry into how Sydney has been performed throughout history. Both Wesley and Steven emphasised the need for projects like barrangal dyara (skin and bones) that ask the question: What else have we forgotten?

Dr Ilaria Vanni, examined how spectacle was used to craft narratives of progress, modernity and nationalism at the Exhibition. Vanni also proposed an alternative view of the Ethnological Court, which unsettled the Exhibition’s vision of linear progress and imagined a non-colonial Australia.

Cara Pinchbeck, Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at AGNSW, shared the critical vision of Tony Tuckson who appreciated Aboriginal art as more than an ethnological curiosity. The discussion concluded with Clothilde Bullen’s reflection on the significance of performance to Indigenous people and its role in cultural revival.

Join us at Spot Fire Symposium 3: Loss and Resilience on Saturday 6 August where we will be celebrating the resilience of the cultures impacted by the Garden Palace fire. The symposium will be live streamed direct from the Australian Museum.