Entities: The Concepts and Post-Object Exhibitions

Current Exhibition
1 June - 10 August 2024
Entities: The Concepts and Post-Object Exhibitions

There has always been post-object art of some sort, and conceptual art as well, on some understanding of the term. What is new now is the extent and clarity of the recognition by artists, that what they are manipulating need not be in the medium of oil paint or stone, but may be a process, a system or some other insubstantial and spatially or temporarily extended stuff. The entities that they generate are not, for the most part, medium-sized, portable, inflation-hedging lumps of cult furniture. – Donald Brook, Concepts catalogue essay, February 1974, Adelaide.

When

1 June to 10 August 2024

Something incredible was happening in contemporary art in Adelaide in the 1970s and early 1980s. Local, national and international currents surged together in a heady mix of radicalism, idealism, and a desire to “edit” the institution of art. All around the world, artists were challenging established structures, and building their own. Alternative art spaces were formed by artists and art theorists, creating new spaces for artists to make, share and discuss work outside the stranglehold of conservative institutions and markets. Conceptualism - the belief that the most important part of an artwork was its idea, and the idea itself was sufficient to be an artwork; and the post-object movement, which foregrounded performance, film, installation, happenings, and video - were twin currents animating the period. And Adelaide - despite, or possibly even because of its peripherality -  was the heartbeat of this movement.

 Entities: The Concepts and Post Object exhibitions highlights the work of two, related Adelaide art spaces: the Contemporary Art Society of South Australia (CAS (SA)) and the Experimental Art Foundation (EAF). The exhibitions signal key moments in the histories of the two art spaces and explore a pivotal juncture in the development of contemporary art locally and nationally.

On 9 March 1974, the CAS (SA) opened the Concepts exhibition with a three-week schedule of performances, lectures, film screenings, and installations by a group of artists including Tim Burns, Mike Parr, Aggy Read, and Ron Rowe, among others. Renowned Australian art theorist and co-founder of the influential artist-run space Tin Sheds, Donald Brook, had recently relocated to Adelaide and wrote in his introductory essay to the Concepts exhibition, about the “entities” that artists in this conceptual, post-object movement were now generating.

Just weeks prior to the Concepts opening, plans to establish the EAF had taken shape. On 5 May 1976, the Foundation’s first major exhibition: Australian and New Zealand Post-Object Show - A Survey opened showing work by forty trans-Tasman artists. Emerging at a particularly active local moment, Concepts and the Australian and New Zealand Post-Object Show were influential in setting a new course for contemporary art in Australia. Comprising archival material drawn from public and private collections, Entities: The Concepts and Post-Object Exhibitions presents the tangible traces of an historic conceptual legacy.

We are grateful for the energy, time and attention that a great many members of our community have contributed to the ongoing project of documenting, archiving and sharing ACE’s archives. Support, information, and advice for this project has been provided by Bruce Barber, Sarita Burnett, Aidan Coleman, Eleen Deprez, Bonita Ely, Tasha Eskau, Gilles Fielke, Cameron Fleming, Mark Gilbert, Sasha Grbich, Sarah Northcott, Chris Read, Ron Rowe, Fiona Salmon, and Ken Searle. We are indebted to the State Library of South Australia for facilitating the loan of archival material. 

Access the plain language document.

Curator

Alexandra Nitschke

Archivist in Residence

Cameron Fleming

Alexandra Nitschke is an independent curator and researcher based on the unceded Country of the Peramangk people in the Adelaide Hills. She has a particular interest in the convergence of contemporary exhibition practices and the archive. Alexandra has cultivated a deep working knowledge of regional contexts as Curator at the Rockhampton Museum of Art (2017-2018) and as Curatorial Assistant at the Ipswich Art Gallery (2011-2015). Most recently Alexandra was a research candidate at the University of Adelaide, supported by an Australian Government Research Training Scholarship. She has written for the Australasian Registrars Committee Journal and fine print magazine, amongst others.

This project is supported by the Australian Government through Creative Australia, its arts funding and advisory body, and the South Australian Government through Arts South Australia.

The exhibition is supported by the City of Adelaide.

ACE tampinthi, ngadlu Kaurna yartangka panpapanpalyarninthi (inparrinthi). Kaurna miyurna yaitya mathanya Wama Tarntanyaku. Parnaku yailtya, parnaku tapa purruna, parnaku yarta ngadlu tampnthi. Yalaka Kaurna miyurna itu yailtya, tapa purruna, yarta kuma puru martinthi, puru warri-apinthi, puru tangka martulayinthi.

ACE respectfully acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today.