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ProppaNOW First Peoples collective wows Sydney

Rhiannon Clarke -

The First Peoples collective proppaNOW is making a splash in Sydney.

The National Art School (NAS) is proud to present a major exhibition of new and recent works by the Meanjin/Brisbane- based Aboriginal artist collective: Occurrent Affair.

Artists featured in the exhibition are Vernon Ah Kee, Tony Albert, Richard Bell, Megan Cope, Jennifer Herd, Gordon Hookey, and the late Laurie Nilsen.

Occurrent Affair is a play on the sensational journalistic style of television show current affair programs, that embraces the slippage between language and its associated readings to probe and present new narratives.

Conceived as a collaborative activist gesture, the exhibition will highlight and reflect on the ongoing state of affairs affecting Aboriginal communities – issues relevant to all Australians.

Occurrent Affair addresses current socio-political, economic and environmental issues, while celebrating the strength, resilience and continuity of Aboriginal culture.

Issues surrounding the artworks extend to pertinent and recurring 'affairs' for Aboriginal and non-Indigenous Australians, including the climate crisis, collectivism, healthcare, justice, truth-telling and healing.

Gordon Hookey, Terraist gloves, 2008, mixed media (Image: Carl Warner)

Occurrent Affair is touring nationally with Museums & Galleries of NSW from 2023-2025, and will include public programs and engagement opportunities extending into the community through partnerships with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander cultural centres or keeping places, and community groups.

Since opening in 2021 at the University of Queensland Art Museum in Brisbane, the exhibition provides opportunities to speak to ideas and concerns particular to Country wherever it is presented, strengthening existing relationships and fostering new ones.

NAS Director and chief executive Steven Alderton said: "It's an honour to present this important exhibition with such a powerful vision of Australian contemporary art."

"It comes at a crucial time to critique the influence of media around First Nations issues in Australia, the response to truth-telling, who is allowed to speak and how social media impacts critical and civil debate," he said.

Since its establishment in 2003 in Brisbane, proppaNOW has emerged as one of Australia's leading cultural collectives, exploring the politics of Aboriginal art and culture, and provoking, subverting and re-thinking what it means to be a 'contemporary Aboriginal artist'.

ProppaNOW is a thesis, a language and an idea – a collective space for critical dialogue, intergenerational membership and artistic practice. In 2022 proppaNOW was awarded the Jane Lombard Prize for Art and Social Justice in the US.

This exhibition from the University of Queensland Art Museum touring with Museums & Galleries of NSW has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, and the Australian Government's Visions of Australia program.


Saturday 24 June – Saturday 5 August 2023

NAS Gallery, Monday-Saturday, 11am-5pm

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