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Anthony Gardner

(b Singapore, July 12, 1959).

Malaysian conceptual artist, active also in Australia. Gill studied at the University of Western Sydney, completing her MA in 2001. Despite working in a range of media, she is best understood as a process-based artist who has consistently explored notions of migration and transformation within material culture. These include the effects of international trade on such everyday activities as cooking and eating. The spiral form of Forking Tongues (1992; Brisbane, Queensland A.G.), for example, entwines Western cutlery and dried chillies from the Americas and Asia, highlighting how foods and utensils from across the globe have come together to transform local cuisines and inform culinary habits. Gill’s later photographic series refer to other understandings of migration, such as the spread of the English language or of capitalist desire throughout South-east Asia in recent decades. For Forest (1998; Sydney, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery; see Chua), Gill cut out words and sentences from books written in English, placed the texts within tropical landscapes and photographed the results before the books’ paper began rotting into the humid environment. For ...

Article

Bernice Murphy

(b Sydney, July 19, 1945).

Australian conceptual and performance artist, film maker and writer. He began writing poetry as a student at Queensland University (1965–6). Although he attended the National Art School at Darlinghurst, Sydney (1968), he was largely self-taught as an artist. He first became known for his conceptual works, filmed actions and performances and typescript pieces in 1971–2, when he ran Inhibodress, an alternative art space in Sydney, with artist Peter Kennedy (b 1945). In 1972 he travelled abroad for the first time for about a year, making Vienna his base (as he did again in 1977–8). In 1973 he carried out performances in Lausanne and Neuchâtel, Switzerland. These works (and the associated filmed record) were collectively entitled Performances, Actions, Video Systems and developed out of previous Sydney works: Word Situations (1971) and Idea Demonstrations (1971–2).

On returning to Australia Parr incorporated recent filmed records of performances into much larger, autobiographical film projects that occupied most of his artistic energy for ten years, producing three substantial, experimental films: ...

Article

Rex Butler

(b San Remo, Victoria, 1974).

Australian conceptual artist, active also in the USA. Swallow came to prominence only a few years after completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, by winning the prestigious Contempora 5 art prize in 1999. Swallow could be said to have ushered in a wholly new style in Australian art after the appropriation art of the 1980s and 1990s. His first mature work was a hammerhead shark made out of plaid, later followed by such objects as bicycles and telescopes made out of plastic. These were not hyperreal simulacra in the manner of Pop artist George Segal or sculptor Ron Mueck . Rather, in remaking these objects in altered materials, Swallow wanted to open up a whole series of associations around memory and obsolescence. In one of the works for Contempora 5, Model for a Sunken Monument (1999), Swallow made a vastly scaled-up version of the mask Darth Vader wore in the ...

Article

Terry Smith

(b Sydney, July 30, 1950).

Australian conceptual artist and painter. An architecture student at Sydney University (1969–72), he closely followed the profound questioning of artistic practices concentrated there, including the radical rethinking of Australian and modern art history occurring in the courses and research of the Power Institute of Fine Arts. He was also alert to the particular nexus between minimalist aesthetics and conceptual experimentality being forged by artists in Sydney as elsewhere. A son of Latvian immigrants, he saw these developments from an already displaced perspective. They gave him the grounding for his artistic language, and for his recurrent subject: the imagery of identity, of the personal within the social. It was approached obliquely, usually by inference, often unstable and elusive to the point of disappearance.

The vital paradox of Tillers’s art is the projection of such significant content through the appropriation and quotation of imagery from a number of sources, including reproductions of other artists’ works. His large paintings are assemblies of small canvas-boards, scored by oilstick and arrangeable in various combinations; he even exhibited them in stacks. ...