31st May – 15th June, 2018
FAMILY GRIMOIRES: THE DIASPORA FANTASTIC
Jiwon Choi, Alexandra Nemaric, Deanna Hitti, Phuong Ngo and Lucreccia Quintanilla
Curated by Diego Ramirez
Family Grimoires: The Diaspora Fantastic focuses on artists that mediate their experiences of diaspora through invocations of family and culture. The exhibition includes work from culturally diverse artists that reference family history while evoking a sense of politicised imagination. These artists are New York based Jiwon Choi and Melbourne based Alexandra Nemaric, Deanna Hitti, Phuong Ngo and Lucreccia Quintanilla.
In Family Grimoires: The Diaspora Fantastic, we see how these artists address the notion of dislocation by summoning kinsfolk. They do this by incorporating familial narratives, found photographs, board games and memories in artworks that hold a dreamy quality. This show gathers these studio tactics like spells in a grimoire (book of magic) to cast a deeper understanding of diaspora. By grouping these artists together, Ramirez seeks to create a space where the potential of cultural heritage can be explored through conflicted, unconventional and fantastical forms.
Jiwon Choi is an American based South Korean artist exploring the political tension in her home country with her video Parallel, 2017. In this pop reverie, the artist contrasts the story of her grandfather – who served in the Koran War – with the raise of K-pop. Thus, commenting on how the media and the military recruit young men to serve their country.
Alexandra Nemaric is an Australian artist with Slovenian heritage. During a residency in Slovenia, she sculpted a two-headed duck titled The Visitor, 2017. This phantasmagorical work is inspired by a grammatical ‘dual’ form found in the language of her Slovenian grandparents, which allows the speaker to refer to two entities as one single being. With her sculpture, Nemaric expresses a necessity to reconcile her dual cultural identity outside the confines of her home in Australia.
Deanna Hitti is an Australian artist with Lebanese heritage. Her nostalgic artist book Towla, 2017, contains instructions to the Middle Eastern game backgammon co-written with her late father. In these pages, one finds that the Arabic letters spell the instructions in English and the Latin letters spell the instructions in Arabic. Like the game’s instructions, Hitti embodies a split identity that is continually translating itself.
Phuong Ngo is an Australian artist with Vietnamese heritage. His confronting work The Hunt,2017 displays images of Vietnamese corpses shot by American soldiers during the Vietnam war. The blankets dislocate these gruesome images into the domestic sphere and point to the ways in which diasporic communities host and inherit trauma.
Lucreccia Quintanilla is a Salvadorean artist currently residing in Australia. Her dreamy work If you close your eyes you will see what is really there, 2017, is a seashell of clay inspired by memories of her mother and Mayan Cosmology. Like the hiss in a seashell, reminiscences of home appear to cross the Pacific Ocean to reach Quintanilla.