‘Defining Moments’ an ACCA lecture series

Jenny Watson, A painted page 1: Twiggy by Richard Avedon, 1979, oil on canvas, 105.5 x 152.8cm. Collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Michell Endowment, 1982 © Courtesy the artist

‘Defining Moments: Australian Exhibition Histories 1968-1999’ is a two-year lecture series developed by the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) looking back on the significant events that revolutionised art in Australia during the last three decades of the 20th century.

In 2019, ‘Defining Moments’ focused on key exhibitions and pivotal moments in art making between 1968-1990, which culminated in eight lectures delivered by art industry professionals and respondents. All are available on ACCA’s website and is the ideal starting point for audiences to explore the first series before moving on to the second half of the project, which delves into the emergence of new institutional models and the contemporary modes of exhibition-making that surfaced between 1980 and the late ‘90s.

‘Defining Moments’ part two will be released in a series of seven podcasts and illustrated videos beginning on May 25 with Popism, a lecture by independent writer and researcher Judy Annear, who takes an in-depth look at ‘Popism’ the exhibition, which was presented at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in 1982, curated by Paul Taylor (1957-1992), the founder and editor of the contemporary art publication Art & Text.

Annear provides understanding of what ‘Popism’ was about, which in the simplest of terms involved art derived from photographic imagery, why it was important at that time, the context in which it was presented and the critical responses that ensued, she also comments on Taylor’s ideas and vision as Editor of Art & Text, and shares her knowledge about artists Howard Arkley, David Chesworth, Ian Cox, Juan Davila, Richard Dunn, Paul Fletcher, Maria Kozic, Robert Rooney, Jane Stevenson, The Society for Other Photography, Imants Tillers, Peter Tyndall, Jenny Watson and Tsk Tsk Tsk, and the work they exhibited in the show.

Taylor rallied to mark a place for contemporary art representation in traditional fine art museums, like the NGV. His provocative ideas challenged the conventions of the museum mould with an exhibition of Pop-style works, which included paintings, photographs, installation, film and performance works created by the artists using materials such as Super 8 film, Polaroids, instamatic cameras, Letraset, silkscreens, cassette tapes, and other cheaply manufactured and mass-produced products, which outrightly defied the practices of fine art making, mainly painting.

‘Popism’ was a first of its kind exhibition for the NGV and was one that stepped outside the art institution’s traditional curatorial approach. “What Taylor did in 1982 was considered to be unorthodox in museum and curatorial practice. He mixed it up,” says Annear.

Annear’s lecture will be available on ACCA’s video page, on YouTube, on ACCA’s podcast page, and on SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher.

Each new ‘Defining Moments’ lecture will be spiced up with a specially designed cocktail recipe to make at home, created by the Melbourne Gin Company. Visit ACCA’s website for a sneek peek of what’s coming next in this series of talks.