Frame by Frame: Asia Pacific Artists on Tour

A Queensland Art Gallery Touring Exhibition

Still, Moving. An insight into Frame by Frame: Asia Pacific Artists on Tour Frame by Frame: Asia Pacific Artists on Tour, which is on display at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery from 20 February until 19 April, is a stunning exhibition of contemporary photography and moving image artworks from around Asia and the Pacific, including artists from Australia.

Art Exhibition previously on at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery in Townsville precinct, Queensland, Australia.
From Friday 20 February 2009 to Sunday 19 April 2009

The miniature long march (detail) image

Published by anonymous on Wednesday 04 March 2009.
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The exhibition is a regional program of the Queensland Art Gallery’s Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art [APT] – the Gallery’s flagship international contemporary art event, and also the only major exhibition series dedicated to the contemporary works of this region.

First presented in 1993, the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art was developed as a way for the Queensland Art Gallery to contribute to the exhibition and collection of the art of the region. Then Director Doug Hall made mention in his catalogue foreword for the exhibition that, “Australia’s cultural engagement with Asia [had], more often than not, been conceived as art history, both through exhibitions and the development of collections. The visual arts of Asia [had] been presented to Australians as a variety of cultures with a past rich in tradition and bountiful with objects which affirm that. The dynamics of change, identities, and even twentieth-century cultural dislocation as revealed through contemporary art [had] only recently attracted attention and indeed [were] highlighted by the [First] Asia-Pacific Triennial”.

Through the development of this exhibition, Australians have become privy to twentieth century, and now twenty-first century art of the region which was rarely displayed in the past. Perc Tucker is the fourth venue in what present QAG Director Tony Ellwood has stated is the, “first tour of these works, many of which have been acquired for the Collection through the Gallery’s [Fifth] Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT5) exhibition series.”

Visually striking, many of the works included are also humorous and thought-provoking, and explore issues of, “history, resemblance and difference, transparency and illusion as well as national and individual identity,” as stated by Mr Ellwood. Artists have employed the use of a camera, either moving or still, “in creating an experimental art form, intersecting with other mediums, histories and narratives,” and the variety of works in the exhibition is testament to “the dynamism of artistic practice and expression coming out of the region.”

Amongst the most engaging works, (and not only for its sheer size, measuring an astonishing 250.4 × 609.6 cm), is a work titled All eyes skyward during the annual parade. Created by Pakistan artist Rashid Rana in 2004, the work “depicts an affluent middle class gathering at a stadium to celebrate Pakistan’s national day of independence.”¹ The work is mirrored, with the gaze of the crowd converging on the centre of the work, staring at the sky as military pilots perform a range of daring feats.

However, what is most amazing about the work is the ‘pixelated’ photograph technique Rashid has adopted. The entire image is made up of thousands of film strips, each acting as a ‘pixel’ to form the overall image. Interestingly, the film strips are from popular Indian cinema, and this acts to undermine the feeling of ‘patriotic pride’ displayed by the crowd. Rana also makes comment on how cinema is digested by the middle-class, and “accentuates the irony of both Pakistan and India’s political and cultural aspirations.”²

Art historian Kavita Singh explains, “Here, in India, as much as there, in Pakistan, we live with the annual cycle of parades and National Day celebrations and invocations of patriotism. We live also with the regular cycles of aggression and conciliation in our relationship with them; decade after decade of taxes poured into military build-up to protect each against its dark neighbour.”³

The artist’s ironic exploration of the tension between India and Pakistan is further evident in another work on display, Ommatidia II / Salman Khan, from the Ommatidia series. In this work, as in the rest of the series, Bollywood celebrity an image of Salman Khan is constructed through portraits of men from the Pakistan city of Lahore.

Touching a little closer to home, renowned director and choreographer Stephen Page completed a commissioned work entitled Kin. Page has acted as artistic director for the Bangarra Dance Company since 1991, and in this role has helped to develop unique performances that have blended contemporary and traditional Indigenous dance, oral traditions and social history.

In Kin, Page explores similar themes of youth, culture and social history – this time specific to Brisbane youth. The performance is made more powerful through the involvement of Page’s own family, starring his own son and six nephews, and with a music score by his brother David Page. Kin takes shape through the eyes of the seven boys who, aged between nine and thirteen, are beginning to form their own identities. “Their ideas about culture and their understanding of their spirits as Indigenous Australian men are becoming increasingly important,”4 however they are also wrapped up in a lifestyle obsessed with popular culture.

Page worked closely with three generations of his family in creating the work to ensure it was both personal and dynamic. Preparation began for the work in July 2006, with a trip to Beaudesert, South-East Queensland, with his father, son and nephews. This was where Page’s family originated, and it was here that the men discussed traditional stories, and spoke the stories of the land. This acted as the first of a series of workshops, before the performance was presented as part of the opening celebrations for APT5. The Kin Story, a 30 minute video piece included in Frame by Frame, takes the viewer on this entire journey.

Frame by Frame: Asia Pacific Artists on Tour includes up to fifty works, all with a cultural story to tell, and all through the use of contemporary image. The images, both still and moving, prove that artists of the region are still moving at a rapid rate.

¹ The 5th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery Publishing, Brisbane, Australia, 2006, p. 204
² The 5th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery Publishing, Brisbane, Australia, 2006, p. 204
³ Kavita Singh, ‘Between the part and the whole’, in Rashid Rana: Identical Views [exhibition catalogue], Nature Morte, New Delhi, India, 2004, p.23
4 The 5th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art [exhibition catalogue], Queensland Art Gallery Publishing, Brisbane, Australia, 2006, p. 187