Word: MCA Collection

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Joan Ross: The claiming of things (still), 2012 Single Channel Digital Video Animation, Colour, Sound, Museum Of Contemporary Art, Donated Through The Australian Government’S Cultural Gifts Program By The Artist, 2015, Image Courtesy The Artist And Museum Of Contemporary Art Australia © the artist
Word: MCA Collection

140 George Street
The Rocks
NSW 2000 Sydney
December 4th, 2017 - February 18th, 2018

(+612) 9245 2400
Mon-Wed,Fri-Sun 10-5; Thu 10-9


Word: MCA Collection and Jon Campbell: MCA Collection showcase works from the Museum’s Collection that engage with language and text. Presented across the Level 1 South and North galleries, these works encompass painting, printmaking, sculpture, installation and video.

A large suite of political posters introduces the South galleries, featuring prints from artists and poster collectives around Australia that address land ownership and Indigenous rights, gender and equality, and uranium mining and anti-nuclear protest. Largely created during the 1970s and 80s, they set the scene for debates that continue today; and they represent one of the most direct ways in which ordinary peoples’ voices can be heard across the political spectrum.

Also featured in the South galleries are paintings by Robert MacPherson and Richard Bell, an installation by Raquel Ormella, and Joan Ross’s animated video The claiming of things (2012), which explores European colonisation of the Australian landscape. Drawing upon colonial painting, collage and urban graffiti, Ross’s video plays with a range of visual languages. The act of colonisation is expressed through graffiti ‘tagging’ onto a rock face by a European woman in nineteenth century costume, and a bright yellow picket fence that cuts through the land.

Words and word play are central to Jon Campbell’s towering installation Stacks On (2010) in the North gallery. Comprising stacked, illuminated Perspex boxes and suspended fabric banners, Campbell’s colourful work employs Australian vernacular – common sayings and aphorisms – in its realisation. Informal ‘pub talk’, slogans and slang appear on the light boxes and banners, recalling Australian suburbia, adolescence, sports culture and the independent music scene. Some phrases refer to the artist’s own youth and experiences, including a surfing road trip with mates; others are more general, suggesting roadside signs, pub menus and bits of conversation, overheard.

Alongside the presentation of this installation, the MCA has commissioned Campbell to create a major wall painting on the four walls of the Level 1 North Gallery. The MCA’s – and the artist’s – largest ever wall painting, Absolutely Disgusting will stretch frieze-like around the entire gallery, measuring 2.5 × 65 metres.

Co-curated by Natasha Bullock, Anna Davis, Rachel Kent

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