Each country has its own museum of contemporary art. Even my province Iloilo has one (https://www.ilomoca.org/). Contemporary art has no restrictions in terms of forms or media. These masterpieces have meanings as defined by the artists themselves. There are no rules in art appreciation – these are the words uttered by my Humanities professor. Her voice always resonates when I am in front of an art piece that is why I do not interpret nor fathom meaning to every art that I see because I am not its creator. For whatever its worth, contemporary arts are exciting, vibrant and utterly outrageous.
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (140 George Street, Circular Quay, Sydney. Free entry)
MOCA is my favorite art museum in Australia. This is the best place to appreciate the works of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Australian artists. I am not an artist. I just appreciate all forms of art. The way I appreciate art is totally different from others. With MOCA’s collections of paintings, photographs, sculptures, and moving images, my craving for different art forms is fully satisfied.
I am fortunate to be in Sydney when MOCA hosted the 22nd Biennale of Sydney called NIRIN. Based on its website, “NIRIN, is artist- and First Nations-led, presenting an expansive exhibition of contemporary art that connects local communities and global networks. Meaning edge, NIRIN is a word from Brook’s mother’s Nation, the Wiradjuri people of western New South Wales. Seven themes inspire NIRIN: Dhaagun (‘earth’: sovereignty and working together); Bagaray-Bang (‘healing’); Yirawy-Dhuray (‘yam-connection’: food); Gurray (‘transformation’); Muriguwal Giiland (‘different stories’); Ngawal-Guyungan (‘powerful ideas’: the power of objects); and Bila (‘river’: environment) (https://www.mca.com.au/artists-works/exhibitions/860-22nd-biennale-of-sydney/).
My experience while looking at these art pieces left me dumbfounded. It was hard for me to imagine how a piece of wood, cork, styrofoam, oil stick, wire, shredded tire tread, basically trash materials were pieced and glued together and transform these into an art installation, sculpture or a painting. MOCA’s commitment to promoting Aboriginal and Australian art is commendable. It showcases the diverse culture of the country and its deep respect for its heritage.
Aziz Azara’s Bow Echo (four minute video shot in 2019) is one of the films that was shown in the Level 3 galleries. Shot in Afghanistan, it featured kids standing on top of a hill (rock?) braving the strong winds and inclement weather. I was standing in the center of the gallery with a 360-degree view of the screens surrounding me. The surround feel of the wind, the sound of its gustiness, the voices of kids as they try to balance and hold on to their precarious stance amid the strong wind – these are both visual and interoception delights. It transported me to that Afghan hill and my body reacted to the environment. It felt that I was there with these kids. It’s literally moving to see these powerful images.
“The location, Kabul, is surrounded by all these hills and mountains and they were used in civil war. This place was actually conquered by one of the warlords, his name is Sayyaf, he could actually bomb every location, because you could see [from the hills]. And then I was thinking of that reference and then looking at the landscape” (https://www.mca.art/#!/stage/22nd-biennale/5e65b5f6ea68f3c01029d23a/5e65c546545021c9103ba70b)