Conceptual Crotchet. Curator Chris Dean — 12 November to 4 December 2004

Curator: Chris Dean

Eleven Artists: John Aslanidis, Elizabeth Day, Chris Dean, Judith Duquemin, Fiona MacDonald, Kate Mackay, Helen Nicholson, Elizabeth Pulie, Jacqueline Rose, Justin Trendall and Shaun Weston.

 

Conceptual Crochet answers the curious question: Why are so many contemporary artists interested in craft techniques? The artists in the exhibition are trained in the Conceptual Art tradition. Their work, however, harnesses critical forces as well as the heightened levels of aesthetic and formal innovation often found in crafts such as knitting, quilting and crochet.

Out of these experiments a new direction in contemporary art has emerged. Applying ideological commentary to art forms labelled as manual rather than intellectual activities reveals enormous scope for innovation. This reconciliation helps to overcome Conceptual Art’s reluctance to embrace formal or aesthetic concerns.

From a historical perspective Conceptual Crochet builds on a breakthrough project of the women’s art movement, the D’oyley Show, held at Watters Gallery in 1979. The artists and theorists of the Domestic Needle Work Collective appropriated the analytical techniques of Conceptual Art to successfully stress the importance of women’s domestic crafts and critique a male-dominated sacred cow.

 

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Conceptual Crotchet installation view, 2004.
Conceptual Crotchet installation view, 2004. Kate Mackay. Conceptual Crotchet installation view, 2004. Fiona MacDonald and Judith Duquemin.
 

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Conceptual Crotchet installation view, 2004. Chris Dean.
Conceptual Crotchet installation view, 2004. Chris Dean.
Conceptual Crotchet installation view, 2004. Chris Dean.
 

 

Of course, over twenty-five years little has shifted. Concerns about the marginalisation of the unfashionable and disenfranchisement of camp and feminist work are valid today. But unlike the D’oyley Show the emphasis of Conceptual Crochet is not about collective activities or gender specificity. Conceptual Crochet shifts the parameters towards placing greater importance on the formal experiments of individual artists.

 

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Conceptual Crotchet installation view, 2004. John Aslanidis.
Conceptual Crotchet installation view, 2004. John Aslanidis.
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Conceptual Crotchet detail, 2004.
Conceptual Crotchet, 2004.
Conceptual Crotchet work detail, 2004. Justin Trendall.
 

 

Chris Dean, Curator


Projects by Chris Dean discuss issues in contemporary art with an emphasis on the historical and theoretical debates surrounding abstraction. These research-based exhibitions replay aspects of Australian abstraction adding a characteristic air of good humour to serious topics, for example projects for Casula Powerhouse, Liverpool, and Penrith Regional Gallery. One may delight in the curious intersection of avant-garde, camp and kitsch.

 

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Conceptual Crotchet, 2004. Judith Duquemin
Conceptual Crotchet, 2004.
Conceptual Crotchet, 2004. Jacqueline Rose (detail)