Immortality

When: Friday 3 August - Sunday 4 November

Where: Paul Ramsay Galleries, MAMA

Price: FREE

Humans love telling stories, and need to tell stories.
Stories can persist long after the humans and environments that shaped that story are long gone and forgotten.

After we, ourselves, are gone from this earth - how will we (our lives, our culture) be remembered?
Can we keep the parts of ourselves and our culture that we deem precious alive?
Can we rely on humans in the future continuing our story? Whose version will be told?
What resources will future humans draw upon to understand and interpret our present moment?

Immortality investigates the role artists play in forming these artefacts for the future. Through objects, photography, wall sculpture, etchings, multimedia installations and film, Immortality presents the work by seven living artists as well as works by no longer known artists from the southern Asia-Pacific region. Immortality poses a reflection on ideas of truth, relativism, the archive, and a speculative role for contemporary objects presented to the future.


et al. is an artists’ collective that investigates ideas which relate to group culture and behaviour. In their installations, scientific experiments, political ideologies, the classroom and the most extreme of religious rituals are dismantled and exposed as mind-control mechanisms. Their work, tran-scryption (2011), will be presented in Immortality in its third iteration.

Newell Harry’s work stems from the experiences and observances of travelling between Australia, Vanuatu and South Africa, and is caught up in the vernacular words, phrases and textures of these distinct places. With a mischievous and subversive sense of humour, Harry works across a wide variety of media, including installation, drawing, printing, sculpture, photography and neon, picking over the artefacts of colonial exoticism and the slippages of language that occur between different cultural contexts. Immortality presents Newell's series (Untitled) Nimoa and Me: Kiriwina Notations, 2014-2015, made whilst in the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea.

Susan Hiller excavates the overlooked, ignored, or rejected aspects of our shared cultural production, with influences from Minimalism, Fluxus, Surrealism, and anthropology. Her varied projects collectively have been described as investigations into the 'unconscious' of culture. Hiller's The Last Silent Movie (2007 / 2008) presents recordings of extinct and endangered languages spoken by now deceased men and women.

Andrew Liversidge makes conceptual objects and videos. He is interested in the romantic quality of the conceptual gesture. Recurrent themes include abstraction and the collapse of finite models, the infinite and its relation to metaphysics and epistemology, limit, order, repetition and paradox. Immortality includes Liversidge's 2017 series of 15 plaques entitled Death.

Born in Auckland, Dr Fiona Pardington is of Maori and Scottish descent. Her artistic practice illuminates traditional and forgotten objects such as the Māori ancestral treasures in Taonga Māori (Rotorua Museum) and other historic objects such as hei tiki (greenstone pendants) and the now extinct huia bird. Immortality includes two of Pardington's life cast photographs from the series Ᾱhua: a beautiful hesitation (2010).

Tobi Wanik is from Korkor Village, Wahgi Valley, Papua New Guinea and was known to be active in the 1990s. Tobi's metal Wahgi shield Fantom (c.1998) was used after its production in inter-tribal fighting, with the enamel painted image of the Phantom adding a contemporary symbol of invincibility, with the glossy enamel paint adding further indications of strength and vigour.

Unknown artists (Asmat)
The Asmat live along the vast system of rivers that flow into the Arafura Sea in southwestern New Guinea. In Asmat culture, there is a close relationship between humans and trees, with wood considered as the source of life. Wood carving is held in high esteem among the Asmat, a tradition that has continued to the present day. The wooden Asmat war shields presented in Immortality carry figurative carvings and painted detail that calls upon ancestral imagery, endowing the shields with both the power and protection of the ancestors.

John Gillies is well-known for his multi layered and complex video works and installations. Gillies is interested in stories that can affect the future, as the future is in the act of being made from fragments of the past. Immortality includes his cinematic work Witkacy & Malinowski: a cinematic séance in 23 scenes in which he brings to screen an imagination of an actual exchange between the Polish artist Witkacy and the anthropologist Malinowski on a train from Brisbane to Toowomba.