Launching on the first of September 2016, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney presents MCA Collection: Today Tomorrow Yesterday. The exhibition explores the influence of history on contemporary art and the impressions that mid-twentieth-century ideas have left on modern artistic practices. Located on level two, this display will see the museum’s permanent collection re-hung for the first time since 2012, and the exhibition will be arranged so that each room presents an alternative perspective on contemporary Australia, Aboriginal, and Torres Strait Islander art.
Today Tomorrow Yesterday will include the work of more than 40 leading artists from the 1960s to today, including Sanné Mestrom, Stuart Ringholt, Callum Morton, Fiona Hall, Julia Gorman, Super Critical Mass, Gordon Bennett, Linda Marrinon, Barbara Cleveland Institute and Vernon Ah Kee. The exhibition will encompass all media drawn from the museum’s collections, along with recent acquisitions and new commissions.
The title, Today Tomorrow Yesterday reflects the challenge faced by MCA to curate a museum of currently relevant art pieces that maintain a historical context. The phrase is derived from the prose essay book The Prophet by Lebanese artist, philosopher and writer Kahlil Gibran who wrote: ‘…yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream.’
Inspired by the psychological, emotional and cultural importance of early twentieth century modernist sculptors, artist Sanne Mestrom’s ‘Soft Kiss,’ 2011 is reminiscent of limestone sculptures such as ‘The Kiss’ by Constantin Brâncuși and ‘Tête’ by Amedeo Modigliani.
Artist Stuart Ringholt explored the contrasting ideas of amplification and compression in his sculpture ‘Untitled (Clock),’ 2014. The mammoth mantle timepiece is three metres high and two metres wide; however, the hands move faster than usual, with an hour passing in 45 minutes and each day is shortened to 18 hours. This may be a comment on society’s rapid technological progress.
In Callum Morton’s ‘Monument #28: Vortex’ we are invited to look through a modern, life-size interpretation of a 1960s shopfront into a burrowed vortex which reveals Sydney’s Circular Quay. The installation is an observation on how the ordinary is often disrupted by unforeseen events.
Today Tomorrow Yesterday will also see the former Maritime Services Boardroom transformed by Melbourne artist Julia Gorman. In homage to the building’s heritage, Gorman will revamp the room through abstract geometry in order to draw visitors into a space of discovery full of MCA resources and behind-the-scenes material.
The museum has also partnered with the Qantas Foundation and Tate for an International Joint Acquisition Program, which will commence by presenting Gordon Bennett’s ‘Number Nine,’ 2008 as a part of the Today Tomorrow Yesterday exhibition. The painting differs from Bennett’s postcolonial political commentary. Instead, it explores the foundations and disposition of artistic dialects through repetitive lines.
To coincide with Today Tomorrow Yesterday, MCA will launch its inaugural Artist Room exhibition, focused on the work of Melbourne artist Linda Marrion. Curated by Manya Sellers, the room will include a new commission as well as significant works from the 1980s, showcasing Marrion’s artistic transformation from painting to sculpture. The exhibition will include the sculpture ‘Edwardian Lady,’ 2008 and the painting ‘Sorry,’ 1992.
Performance art, including the vocal stylings of Super Critical Mass and an honest investigation into performance laughter by the Barbara Cleveland Institute, is set to intrigue audiences.
MCA Collection: Today Tomorrow Yesterday will run between the 1st of September, 2016 through to the 31st of August, 2018 and entry into the museum is free.