This brittle light: Light Source commissions 2020-2021

12 Mar - 20 Jun 2021

Throughout the last twelve months of pandemic disruption, Buxton Contemporary commissioned an array of leading Australian artists to develop a series of new projects, under the title of Light Source commissions. Referencing art as a source of illumination the initiative was conceived to support the creation of new work or the further development of an existing landmark body of work.

The Light Source commissions series emerged from a challenging period of personal and social limitations and constraint. As such, each of these projects can been seen as an extension of the participants’ ongoing artistic pursuits and interests as well as an outcome of the time in which these works were conceived, a period underscored by human fragility, resilience and imagination.

Each of these ambitious projects were presented digitally, online or remotely, and had a further life exhibited together as a series of discrete projects in the gallery spaces across Buxton Contemporary.

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The exhibition comprised of six commissions, with projects spanning perform-at-home mail art, AI-powered digital media, video and installation. Mirroring the ubiquity of technology and the shifting and accelerated virtual role of museums, the featured projects explored and engaged with local and global themes and issues, including humour, ritual and the role of art in society; how lived experience is mediated through the conventions of representation; corporate duplicity, neoliberalism and the climate crisis; humanity’s fraught relationship with nature; the opportunity to learn from diverse cultures, systems of knowledge and the continuing impacts of colonialism; and the complex and evolving dynamics of the global political economy.

A seventh commission by Destiny Deacon (KuKu Nation, Far North Queensland & Erub/Mer Peoples, Torres Strait) and her long-time collaborator Virginia Fraser was planned but was not possible due to the untimely passing of Virginia Fraser. Buxton Contemporary joined First Nations, feminist, arts, education, film and media communities in mourning this loss. An existing work by Virginia and Destiny was included in the exhibition to mark their participation in this project and to recognise and honour their longstanding collaboration and enduring contribution to art, culture and social change.

Destiny Deacon & Virginia Fraser
Taloi Havini
Laresa Kosloff
Nicholas Mangan
Stuart Ringholt
Grant Stevens
Hossein Valamanesh & Nassiem Valamanesh


Exhibition Catalogue

First experienced remotely, the projects featured in This brittle light now welcome audiences and communities back to the museum as a social space and a shared and contested environment for engagement with art, ideas, politics and expression.

Contributors include Melissa Keys, Tessa Laird, Tara McDowell, Kyla McFarlane, Djon Mundine, Natalie King, Alice Procter, Lisa Radford Selena Tan.

Image credit: Installation view, This brittle light. Light Source commissions 2020-2021 at Buxton Contemporary, the University of Melbourne. Photo: Christian Capurro.