Cover image of the review

Unfinished Business: Perspectives on Art and Feminism

24 Mar 2018
15 Dec - 25 Mar 2018

Tomorrow is the last day of Unfinished Business: Perspectives on Art and Feminism at ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art). Hopefully this is a prompt for you to visit (or revisit), because shows like this are rare. Here we are presented with the knowledge (institutional, personal, ancestral, academic) of six curators, thoughtfully dragging an exhibition of 90+ artists in several directions at once. The topic: the pasts, presents and futures of feminism in this country (importantly) and beyond (necessarily).

Usually approaching an institutional thematic exhibition of this scale, someone like me (an art historian and reviewer) is looking for the same thing any gallery visitor looks for – some sort of take-home statement, imagined by the curator/s and expressed through their presentation of the work. We expect a sort of harmony in the curatorial vision, a statement that you can either decide was strong and compelling, or hazy and weak. Scrap that approach. In Unfinished Business, that harmony is deliberately packaged as discordance. Instead of unity, we are presented with divergence and asked to behold the cacophony. One of the curators, Paola Balla in her catalogue essay, writes ‘I do not identify as a feminist’. Also in the catalogue, the artist Linda Dement stresses, ‘Nothing here is clean and whole and no part of it will ever stiffen into certainty.’ All the waves of feminism crash here (with a thunderous rumbling of some future, oncoming storm).

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