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Art unleashes the power of the dot

22 June 2017

The Papunya dot is a powerful symbol of identity in Aboriginal art and culture. In a new exhibition, artists have harnessed the power that the dot holds for Aboriginal people as a starting point to explore their own beliefs.

Bronwyn Bancroft's painting, Falling Through Time (Riverstone series), 2012. Image courtesy of the artist.

Bronwyn Bancroft, Falling Through Time (Riverstone series), 2012. Courtesy of the artist.

The exhibition titled dot, dot, dot […] is curated by the University of Sydney’s SCA Wingara Mura Fellow and Dharug artist Janelle Evans. It follows an exhibition in Paris in 2012 - Beyond the Papunya Dot curated by Geraldine Le Roux - that exposed the diverse and complex nature of contemporary Indigenous art through the work of nine artists including Janelle Evans.

In contrast to the Paris show, dot, dot, dot […], which is a collaborative project of Janelle Evans and Geraldine Le Roux, brings together 10 Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian artists to find the deeper meaning and creative potential of the universal spherical form, unique to each artist.

“For the artists, the dot becomes a starting point for greater stories and philosophical questions about time, place, memory, dislocation, self-determination, feminist activism, and migration, to name a few of the underlying ideas,” said Janelle Evans.

“While the dot brings together all the artists, each of their works has a unique vision and tale that invites the viewer to find a deeper understanding about who we are as people in contemporary society, without the constraints of national and cultural identity,” she added.

SCA alumni, students and staff feature alongside acclaimed contemporary artists including Bronwyn Bancroft, Jon Cattapan, Lindy Lee, Dacchi Dang and David Asher Brook. The artworks spanning photography, painting, sculpture, screen and print media, see each artist use the dot as a starting point to reflect on their own identity and beliefs.

In Dacchi Dang’s photographic work, Lens of the Other, for instance, the artist sees the tiny dot of a pinhole camera as a metaphor for viewing the world where time is slowed down to a point that almost all moving elements are erased.

Bronwyn Bancroft’s painting, Falling Through Time, uses the dot to create a timeline and a connection to her family history with the faces of relatives featured in the work. Her work was inspired by her 94-year-old Uncle Pat and mentor who bequeathed his collection of stones, some of which are thousands of years old and would have been made by her family.

While Lindy Lee’s drawing, Rain, points to the practice of Zen Buddhism connected to her art practice. The relentless and orderly routine of a Zen retreat involves waking at 4am, a brief morning wash followed by long periods of meditation regulated by meals and rest. The repetitive circles in her work each represent a moment in time in Zen practice.

“The exhibition seeks to provide a discourse about the use of the dot by contemporary Australian artists who interpret it beyond the protective skin or screen used by our Central and Western Desert artists and in ways that are non-derivative,” said Janelle Evans.

dot, dot, dot [...] officially opens at SCA Galleries at Sydney College of the Arts on Wednesday, 5 July at 6pm.

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