Experimenta Make Sense at NERAM, Armidale

Last stop in 2019 on the Experimenta Make Sense National Tour is New England Regional Art Museum, presenting from 8 November 2019 – 2 February 2020.

We spoke to their Gallery DirectorRachael Parson, about the exhibition and the media art scene in Armidale.

What led you to program Experimenta Make Sense?

I had programmed Experimenta twice at a previous space I worked at, The Block, at Queensland University of Technology. In both instances the artworks were cutting edge and highly engaging, with lots of interactive elements and a convergence of art, technology and society. Experimenta is intelligent and creative in the way that they use digital and new media works to communicate compelling ideas about current issues be they social, cultural, political, environmental…. They are careful to not let the ideas get lost in the technology and this is what I think makes Experimenta such a successful program.

We have an excellent collection at NERAM with a focus on what may be termed more ‘traditional art’, painting, print making, drawing etc. We do not have any digital work in our collection, and while we do show digital artwork through touring exhibitions and special projects, this will be the largest and most ambitious presentation of new media artwork at NERAM. We are excited to provide our audience and community an opportunity to engage with these artworks and provide a distinct point of contrast to our collection works. I think that Experimenta challenges people to expand their view of what art can be and I like that at one time people will be able to see early 20th century painting alongside contemporary new media art. It shows a continued progression and expansion of the way artists approach making art.

Is there a particular artwork in the exhibition that you are excited to present to your audience?

I am excited to see everything, but I was happy to see several artists who I have worked with or shown before. They include Robert Andrew, Keith Armstorng, Antoineet J. Citizen, Jon McCormack and Judy Watson. I am interested to see how they have responded to the Make Sense theme and how their work may have departed from what I have already seen of their practice.

Equally I am excited to see how audiences discover the presented artists and engage with their works and ideas. I think that this exhibition facilitates an opportunity to broaden awareness and understanding of new media arts. We hope that this exhibition may also attract new audiences to NERAM and provide a different kind of visual and sensorial experience.

Can you tell us about the media art scene in Armidale?

We have a very active arts scene in New England that includes a whole range of media and techniques. Painting and printmaking are particularly strong in the region as is public sculpture. There are a number of multi-disciplinary and new media artists working across art, film and community projects and we are seeing an increase in digital practice emerging from school art programs.

I think that it is a growing area of practice and I would like to see NERAM be a space that challenges and inspires further investigation of and experimentation with new media practice. We will do this by including exhibitions like Experimenta into our program as well other digital and new media artists and projects, as well as expanding our digital infrastructure over time.