APT7 – A Gathering Place

Kwoma (PNG) performing the Aptaumb Hoka.

Kwoma (PNG) performing the Aptaumb Hoka.

At Kurilpa Point a sandy beach marks the river crossing where Aboriginal people entered their ceremonial hunting and gathering ground for hundreds if not thousands of years. Today just a small distance from this beach the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (QGOMA) resides. Here artworks and artists from our greater region are gathered for the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT7).


Edwin Rosena’s Green Hypermarket Series 2011 – 12.

Yullu Burri Bah - the Indigenous Australian group performing in front of Big Yellow.

Yullu Burri Bah – the Indigenous Australian group performing in front of Richard Maloy’s Big Yellow.

APT7 marks the 20th anniversary of the series. From the outset APT was groundbreaking – a place to witness the unique strengths, traditions and perspectives as well as the region’s struggles, through sometimes controversial and political art. APT7 features the work of 75 artists originating from over 27 Countries within our Asia Pacific Region.

Artist Huang Yong Ping's 54-metre long snake skeleton suspended over the water.

Artist Huang Yong Ping’s 54-metre long snake skeleton suspended over the water.

It is always inspiring to witness the ambitious scope and diversity that each unique APT embraces. APT7 is no exception. It expands its geographical scope through 0 – Now: Traversing West Asia by bringing together seven artists and collectives from the Middle East and Central Asia. Claiming new territory this APT acknowledges the ever-shifting extents and impacts of cultural interaction.

View to

View to Damien Gulkledep’s Pomio People 2011.

APT7 also feels different. It’s less like a fantabulous sideshow blockbuster – with bells, whistles and flashing lights – witnessed in some past APTs. Rather APT7 imbues a quiet confidence with a focus on the art. This is underpinned by elegantly simple exhibition design, in depth research, and the intention, materiality and detail of the artworks. This difference may, in part, be a result of the times – economic, political and social as well as the fresh and welcomed direction of QAGOMA’s first female Director (Acting) – Suhanya Raffel. 

Timber Temple

Takahiro Iwasaki’s Reflection Model (Perfect Bliss) 2010 – 2012, scale model of Byodo-in a Buddhist temple near Kyoto, Japan.

Lorraine Connelly-Northey's Narbong (String Bags) made from recycled materials.

Lorraine Connelly-Northey’s Narbong (String Bags) made from recycled materials.

Narbong (String Bags) detail.

Narbong (String Bags) – detail.

Tiwi performers (in front of Timothy Cook’s work).

Tiwi performers (in front of Timothy Cook’s work).

In terms of the artworks themselves I could outline in detail the themes relating to geography, history and culture, nature-culture-city re-imaginings as well as the adaptability of local traditions to globalization – all relevant, enduring and timely.

400 Glass Animals

Tiffany Chung’s Roaming with the Dawn… with 4000 hand made glass animals.

Giraffes glitter in the herd

Detail – giraffes glitter in the herd.

Impossible Intricate weavings. Respect.

Impossible Intricate weavings.

I could also describe the diverse materials and techniques used by the artists ranging from interlocked rusted bed springs, knotted string, cardboard boxes held with masking tape, hand formed glass miniature wildlife, woven twine, carved wood etc.

Kwoma (PNG)  performing the Aptaumb Hoka.

Kwoma (PNG) performing the Aptaumb Hoka.

Instead I want to share a personal moment from the Opening Weekend that for me captures the essence of APT- in place and time.


Kwomo Arts large-scale structure based on the customary kowomb or Spirit House.


Detail of the carvings specially commissioned by QAGGOMA for APT7.

As drums from the Pacific beat, guests are drawn out from the interior Gallery spaces to stand between carved and painted structures from Papua New Guinea.

Michael Young

Friends meet in front of Michael Cook’s Civilisation 2012.

Michael Young

Sharing special moments.

Just in front of Michael Cook’s beautiful series of photographs (Civilization 2012) – I see old acquaintances, artists, and friends chance across each other in the crowd. They smile, welcome each other and embrace and speak of the time that has passed and all of the moments in between.

Throughout the Opening Weekend there was an amazing feeling of gathering through a reconnection to people, place and the greater region that we live in. For me this is at the heart of what the exhibition, the artworks, the APT series and especially Kurilpa Point mean. Together they form a gathering place where people come together to share ideas, celebrate differences and crossovers, and impart stories and personal histories – all in a myriad of forms, mediums and voices.

APT7 is a ‘must experience’ exhibition. The APT 20-year archive on display and the two-film program at the Gallery’s Australian Cinémathèque alone will keep people inspired and connected throughout the long hot summer.

APT7 continues until 14 April 2013. Admission is free. Visit QAGOMA’s Official Website for all of the details, activities and screenings.

 All Photography # Christina Waterson.

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