Cover Versions: Mimicry and Resistance

11 Nov 2017 - 14 Jan 2018

This exhibition explores ideas around mimicry and impersonation, re-performance or reiteration, as artists and collectives expand on the notion of the cover version and its subversive potential within the digital age.

Cover Versions: Mimicry and Resistance quotes from the histories of music, popular culture and the internet, ethnography and the natural world. This is expressed through a range of mediums that include sound art and instrumentation, video, photography, installation and robotics. In music the cover version is realised as the re-performance, sampling or development of an existing piece, creating an expanded version or new original. In the natural world, animals use mimicry as a mode of camouflage for the purposes of survival, while humans employ it for social commentary or political subversion. In contemporary net culture and social media this is signalled by the repost, retweet or meme: in homage or critique, or towards the construction of identity. Mimicry has been equated with camouflage but also like holding up a mirror. Through the artifice of their construction, these works reveal something about the nature of our times.

Departing from Arthur Merric Boyd and Neil Douglas’ earthenware platter that depicts a lyrebird— a creature that can mimic multiple sounds and voices—the exhibition will examine the ways in which artists have used mimicry as a means of resistance, as a comment on contemporary culture, or as a means to subvert perceptions around gender, sexuality and ethnicity.

For the exhibition, two artists/artist groups have been commissioned to make new work.

The New York/Sydney/Brisbane artist duo, Super Critical Mass has been commissioned to create a version of their ongoing work, Moving Collected Ambience. It is a participatory sound art performance in which participants move through the gallery spaces producing simple vocal sounds in response to SAM’s permanent collection, the gallery architecture and each other. Artist Julian Day has been in Shepparton recruiting a choir to perform this work for the opening night of the exhibition.

Brisbane-based media artist Michael Candy has been commissioned to create a series of Synthetic Pollenizers - robotic flowers that work in concert with the local ecosystem to attract bees and increase the pollination of flora in the Shepparton region. This will occur in peak spring, assisting the bees with their pollination and documenting their activities with a motion tracking camera. On Saturday 23 September, the artist will be testing his Synthetic Pollenizers at Tallis Wines in Dookie. This is a public event, and those interested can RSVP via the SAM website. From Saturday 11 November, the bee activity will be live-streamed into SAM, from the rooftop residency of Melbourne-based beekeeper, Honey Fingers.

Yuki Kihara’s Culture for Sale 2014 will also be featured in the exhibition. Kihara, leading contemporary New Zealand- and Sydney and Samoa-based artist, here has employed a type of reverse anthropology in which the viewer participates in the exoticisation of the subject in the work by asking the viewer to insert a twenty cent coin in order for a video to be activated. Here, the artist subverts what was known as Samoan participation in the ‘Völkerschauen’, a popular form of exotic entertainment and colonial theatre in Germany in the early 20th century. The work makes viewers question practices that have been embedded—albeit more slyly—within mainstream culture throughout time, now expanding on the ways in which we consume video games. All proceeds from Culture for Sale will go to a charity of the artist’s choice.

Artists:
Arthur Merric Boyd / Neil Douglas, Michael Candy, Maria Fernanda Cardoso, Marco Fusinato, Percy Grainger and Burnett Cross, Yuki Kihara, The Kingpins, LOUD+SOFT (Julian Day and Luke Jaaniste), Frédéric Nauczyciel, Soda Jerk vs The  Avalanches, Super Critical Mass, Christian Thompson, Jemima Wyman.

Curator: Anna Briers

Special events

Saturday 23 September - Michael Candy's synthetic pollenizers: a talk and viewing at Tallis Winery. $10. Book here

Friday 10 November - Exhibition Opening with special performance by Super Critical Mass. FREE. RSVP here.

Thumbnail image: The Kingpins, VERSUS, single channel video, 2001, 5:30. Courtesy the artists and Neon Parc.

Jemima Wyman artwork featuring protest figures arranged in a circular pattern
 Above image: Jemima Wyman, Aggregate Icon (RBW) from center to periphery clockwise: Free-Gaza protester, Palestine, 5th May 2012 (Che Guevara t-shirt), Anti-government protester, Milan, 14th December 2010 (screaming skull), Union member protester against labor and fiscal reform, Madrid, 31st March 2012 (striped t-shirt), Indigenous land rights protester, Caledonia, 28th February 2006 (camo hoodie), Protesters occupying city hall against the shooting of Michael Brown put a keffiyeh on the George Washington Statue, Chicago, 11th August 2012 (Statue), Supporter of the Syrian uprising recording fellow protesters, Beirut, 15th August 2011 (mustache facemask), Protesting NATO at summit, Chicago, 20th May 2012 (badge), Anti-government protester in solidarity with jailed freelance photographer Ahmed Humaidan, Bahrain, 1st March 2013 (black keffiyeh), College student stages performance against air pollution, Xi'an, China, 5th December 2013 (dust mask), Anti-austerity protester clashing with police, Greece, 29th June 2011 (sling-shot) May Day Protester, Bogota, Colombia, 1st May 2013 (Che Guevara flag), A ‘Sister of perpetual indulgence’ at the hunky Jesus contest, San Francisco, 24th April 2011 (spotted nun), University student against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, Caracas, 26th January 2010 (red fabric over eyes and mouth), Supporter of Michael Brown, Ferguson, Missouri, 10th August 2014 (dreadlocks), Zapatista Children protesters, Chiapas, 5th May 2015 (Six at a desk), G20 protester, Canada, 26th June 2010 (heart glasses), Pro-government supporters, Thailand, 30th November 2013 (Yingluck and Thaksin printed shirts), Zapatista, Chiapas, 8th March 2011(black belt), Albanian celebrating 100 years of independence from the Ottoman Empire, 28th November 2012 (red and black face paint), Protesting grand jury decisions in police-involved death of Eric Garner, Berkeley, California, 6th December 2014 (holding donut), Protesting the disappearance of 43 students, Chilpancingo, Mexico, 11th November 2014 (profile red bandanna), Palestine youth protesting Israel’s military occupation, Beit El settlement, 28th January 2016 (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine headband), Anti-NATO protestor, Prague, 21st November 2002 (Che-Guaver Mask), Pro-Palestinian protesters, West Bank, 11th October 2015 (Group wearing keffiyehs), May Day protester, Oakland, California, 1st May 2012 (occupy mask), Zapatistas, Chiapas, 15th August 2013 (red and white spotted cape), Anti-Fascist protester, Bulgaria, 17th November 2013 (Anti-Fascist flag), Anti-Nuclear protester at Tokyo Electric Power Co. headquarters, 27th March 2011 (Nuclear No Thanks), Anti-government protestor, Bangkok, Thailand, 9th June 2013 (bandanna Guy Fawkes mask), Protester against the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, Ferguson, Missouri, 13th August 2014 (white t-shirt mask), High school student protests lack of quality education, Santiago, Chile, 15th March 2012 (red t-shirt mask), Unknown (hoodie with patches), Millions Mask March, London, 5th November 2015 (Guy Fawkes mask with Camo), Protesting at the RNC for good jobs, healthcare, affordable education, equality and peace, Tampa, Florida 27th August 2012 (A’s painted on shirt), Free Pussy Riot supporter at the Russian Embassy, London, 17th August 2012 (rabbit mask), Black Block group defending anti-Morsi protesters, Egypt, 11th February 2013 (red face on black masks), 2016. Hand-cut digital photographs collage. Image courtesy the artist, Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.