With accelerating momentum, contemporary artists are shifting the conceptual focus of their practices to address the intensifying crisis of Australia’s diminishing water supply. Alongside scientists and environmentalists, artists have historically presented as some of the first responders to this crisis, bearing witness to its effects through creative expression. Groundswell: Recent movements within art and territory showcases a selection of powerful reactions with particular focus on creeping changes to the Northern Territory’s water supply. It charts these changes by grouping artistic responses thematically into the prevailing resource issues of Access, Contamination, Scarcity and Culture.
Groundswell features over twenty works by Northern Territory artists including Jacky Green, Kelly Lee Hickey, June Mills, Aly de Groot, Patricia Phillipus Napurrula, Lee Harrop, Maicie Lalara, Mel Robson, Jennifer Taylor and Tarzan Jungle Queen. The works in Groundswell extend through vast geographies, perspectives and artistic mediums to stake their claim, spanning visualised data to ceramics, oil painting to recycled sculpture and printmaking to stand-up comedy. These works find commonality in their shared determination to bridge the message of each individual artist to our collectively shared concerns as Northern Territory citizens. In this way, visual culture is harnessed to agitate for the paradigm shift we so desperately need if we are to preserve our most precious resource into an uncertain future.
Diverse in aesthetic beauty but united in unambiguous concern for country, Groundswell showcases works of formidable creativity and palpable substance. For this reason, its significance does not lie solely in its lucid demands but lies equally within its art historical context. Through these works we can identify the compelling first steps of an artistic movement in its own right. As streams form rivers, individual artworks combine to form a collective force. A groundswell has occurred.
About the SPARK NT Curator
Carmen Ansaldo is a writer, activist and arts worker based between Katherine and Darwin in the Northern Territory. She currently works at Katherine Regional Arts and organises the Darwin Free University. Ansaldo has worked in remote and regional art centres within the Northern Territory and Western Australia, as well as major arts institutions such as the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art. Her arts journalism has featured extensively in national and international print and online publications over the past 15 years including Art Monthly, Eyeline, Artlink, Ocula and The Guardian Australia. Most recently, she represented the Northern Territory within the profession of arts journalism at the 58th Venice Biennale as part of the Australia Council’s Emerging Artworkers Program.
Ansaldo holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting) from the Queensland College of Art and a Bachelor of Arts, Honours (Extended major in Art History) from the University of Queensland. She has worked and studied internationally in Long Island, USA and Berlin, Germany. Her research analyses the intersection between visual arts and political engagement with a focus on First Nations art practices and remote and regional arts development.
As a collaborator, Ansaldo works with artists, activists and community members to critique and expand upon current relationships between the arts, politics and culture within the epoch of climate catastrophe. She does this because communalism will be our only way out. Groundswell: Recent movements within art and territory is her debut curatorial project.