mata ! mata & OBJECTS OF EMPATHY
mata! mata is extremely topical right now. Capturing the flaming zeitgeist that currently rages throughout Australia it references the recent burning of large tracts of forest in the Amazon Basin and the threat to Brazil’s Indigenous peoples who are the traditional custodians. Mata is a Portuguese homonym meaning both forest and kill. During his time in Canberra, as the second artist in residence from Brasilia, Gê has been on Mount Ainslie collecting desiccated branches and twigs for his exhibition of many wondrous objets. mata! mata one could say conflates issues of environmental degradation and political inaction that plague both our countries right now. Gê is an artist who can make a complex exhibition out of nothing. He arrived with little more than a deck of erotic (gay) cards and a bag of tiny pink flamingoes – then began collecting all manner of things and finding ways to connect them in the gallery. Love the rainbow thread and spinning globe. He references the children of the forest and Brazil’s LGBTQIA+ community – and counts the deaths – reflecting his personal experience and introducing ideas around freedom, understanding and acceptance. His use of small, fascinating, objects draw the audience in, for periods of contemplation and as such connect perfectly with the work of Naomi Zouwer. Naomi’s paintings, drawings, small sculptures, textiles and assemblages similarly capture the attention of her audience with their emphasis on miniature. Naomi’s Objects of Empathy tell a story of her family and their lives in Australia since her grandparents migrated to Australia in the 1950s. Naomi does not present the objects, as such, but rather we see them reinterpreted through her eyes, memories of her family through their insignificant objects of significance reimagined, decontextualised and elevated by Naomi’s impressive painting, drawing and embroidery skills (to name but a few). The exhibition was opened with a fabulous speech by Brendan Smyth, Commissioner for International Engagement for the ACT who did a brilliant job of drawing the threads between the exhibitions together. Just like Australia and Brazil Gê and Naomi have much in common. Romero Maia, Head of the Cultural Section at the Embassy of Brazil also gave a memorable speech in which he revealed much about Gê by imaging he/we were in fact Gê – a blend of many cultures and contradictions.
All up another high spirited opening an an amazing turn out. These are two exhibitions that demand an attention span so best come on your own, in a quiet space, ready to absorb a wealth of surprising information and ways of communicating that information. At CCAS Gorman Art Centre until December 14.
And for a bit more entertaining reading there is Helen Musa’s account in City News https://citynews.com.au/2019/diplomatic-charm-offensive-at-contemporary-art-space/
mata ! mata is generously supported by the Embassy of Brazil