Artspace

Uncanny (The Unnaturally Strange)

Pat Brassington (AUS), Julia deVille (AUS), Fiona Hall (AUS), Louise Hearman (AUS), John Lyall (AUS/NZ), Peter Madden (NZ), Sally Marsland (AUS), Samantha Mitchell (NZ), Nell (AUS), Lisa Reihana (NZ ) and Beata Batorowicz (AUS), Kylie Stillman (AUS), Michael Zavros (AUS)

20 July - 20 August 2005

Curated by Rhana Devenport, International Curator in Residence


The quirky, the uncanny and the unexpected are corralled together in Uncanny (the unnaturally strange). The exhibition presses against materiality, its slipperiness and meaning, particularly the considered transformation of substances into the realm of the 'unnaturally strange'. Lying low between the feral and the precious, these artists question what 'naturally' exists and rework materials to form ciphers for untold narratives.


Sigmund Freud introduced the concept of 'uncanny' aesthetic theory (the German word being Unheimlichkeit, which literally translates as 'un-home-like-ness'). Freud coined the word 'uncanny' to describe distinctive aesthetic experiences elicited by art works associated with certain feelings of mild distress, anxiety or disquiet. This exhibition investigates this idea in relation to work by leading and emerging Australian and New Zealand artists. New conceptions of 'what is natural' are proposed as questions are asked about the fault lines that exist across the nature/culture divide.

Included in the exhibition are artists who work with unlikely materials such as US dollar bills, a crocodile tail, car filler, slate, flies, feathers, fur, books, diamonds and sound, as well as time-honoured processes such as oil painting, gold leafing, watercolour and taxidermy.

The exhibition features new bodies of work by leading artists from the region including Fiona Hall, John Lyall, Lisa Reihana and Pat Brassington as well as fresh work by younger artists of note such as Nell, Michael Zavros and Peter Madden.

Uncanny (the unnaturally strange) is the second of three exhibitions curated by Artspace's current International Curator in Residence, Rhana Devenport. Rhana joins the Artspace team from Australia. Her most recent exhibition for Artspace was Slow Rushes for Auckland and her next exhibition in late August will be Compelled: New Artists 2005, Artspace's Annual New Artists Exhibition. Rhana brings a wealth of experience and energy to her residence, having worked with major institutions and projects internationally, the most epic of which being the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art.

The Artspace International Curator in Residence was designed to offer an international curator the opportunity to realise three exhibitions in a top contemporary art space, and for the Artspace community to experience a new curatorial voice before Brian Butler arrives in September to take up the position of Director of Artspace.

Purchase the exhibition catalogue 

See available prints by Lisa Reihana