Balancing Perspectives in Cross-Cultural Curatorship

By Lisa Chandler.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Over the past two decades Australian art museums have been striving for greater inclusivity in the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, by adopting strategies such as employing indigenous curators, acknowledging indigenous protocols and perspectives, and foregrounding diverse indigenous art practices. This has not always been the case, however, so how did such practices evolve? This paper examines the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) exhibition – ‘Mandjad’ or ‘Balance 1990: Views, Visions, Influences’ – which sought to investigate shared influences between indigenous and non-indigenous Australian artists. The paper highlights ways in which this influential and ‘disruptive’ exhibition incorporated collaborative curatorial practices and encompassed multiple views and visions. While the exhibition was significant in its own right, it also created a more lasting impact at the Gallery. ‘Balance’s’ curatorial practices influenced the model of cross-cultural curatorship employed at the first three Asia-Pacific Triennials of Contemporary Art, and led to a greater degree of pluralism in the collection and display of indigenous Australian art at QAG. It will be argued that the exhibition was less about ‘balance’ but rather an ambitious attempt to present co-existing differences, while issues arising from Balance continue to have relevance today as curators seek to address the notion of inclusivity in the art museum.

Keywords: Curatorship, Indigenous Australian Art, Cross-cultural Exhibitions, Art Museum

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.21-32. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.183MB).

Dr. Lisa Chandler

Lecturer, School of Communication, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, QLD, Australia

Lisa Chandler is a lecturer in Art and Design at the University of the Sunshine Coast. She was also foundation director and curator of the University Gallery, establishing an extensive exhibition and education program. Her research interests include curatorship and museum studies, Indigenous Australian art, contemporary art and visual culture. She has written numerous scholarly articles and exhibition catalogue essays and in 2008 was a visiting lecturer at Kyungpook National University, South Korea. She has also been active for many years in the regional cultural sector as an advisory group and board member for various cultural organisations such as the Regional Arts Development Fund, ArtSync arts incubator, and the Sunshine Coast Youth Arts Research Project, as well as contributing to forums on local cultural policy development. In 2009 she was awarded the Sunshine Coast Regional Council Creative Award for her contribution to creative and cultural industries in the region.

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