Major proppaNOW exhibition opening at UQ Art Museum in 2021

Australia’s leading urban Aboriginal art collective, proppaNOW, will present its first exhibition at a major institution when OCCURRENT AFFAIR opens at The University of Queensland Art Museum on 13 February 2021.

Undertaken in partnership with guest curators, Blaklash Creative (Amanda Hayman and Troy Casey), OCCURRENT AFFAIR will feature new commissions and existing works by Vernon Ah Kee, Tony Albert, Richard Bell, Megan Cope, Jennifer Herd, Gordon Hookey and Laurie Nilsen.

Blaklash Creative’s Amanda Hayman said the exhibition had been a long time coming, particularly given the significant contribution the artists had made to contemporary art in Australia and beyond.

“The proppaNOW members all have impressive independent artistic careers, exhibition histories, and works in the collections of major state galleries – but when they come together as a collective, there’s no denying the unique power of their voice,” she said.

“These voices must be heard – as politically minded provocateurs, they explore notions of protest, cultural identity and protecting country.

“And there’s no better setting to tell these stories than a university art museum, an environment where students are formulating ideas and opinions and have the opportunity to consider different perspectives.”

Blaklash Creative’s Troy Casey said the issues explored through the exhibition were not new, but reflected the ongoing state of affairs affecting First Nations communities.

“Issues around land rights, racism and deaths in custody have been recurring challenges facing First Nations people for too many years, and it’s this never-ending cycle and the media portrayal of these issues, that converged to inform the exhibition’s ‘tongue-in-cheek’ title referencing television current affairs,” he said.

“proppaNOW artists are well known for their use of topography and subversive and playful language in their artwork, so it was a perfect reflection of the group and their personalities.”

UQ Art Museum Senior Curator Peta Rake said it was an honour to work with Blaklash and the artists on this long-awaited exhibition.

“proppaNOW continues to be one of Australia’s leading cultural agitators, exploring the politics of Aboriginal art and culture, and provoking, subverting and re-thinking what it means to be a ‘contemporary urban Aboriginal artist’ in Australia, with its ongoing settler-colonial legacies,” she said.

“We’re excited about the opportunities it provides for our audience to hear these voices and to unsettle and destabilise assumptions about Australian society and privilege that are deep-seated and pervasive.”

The program complementing the five-month exhibition will feature a symposium in May 2021, artist talks, the Tent Embassy, artist-in-residence at UQ Art Museum and a large-scale window commission on the front façade of the Art Museum.