10 May 2022

ACCA announces Jessica Clark as third Yalingwa Curator and welcomes Jessica to the ACCA team

Jessica Clark. Photograph: Keelan O’Hehir

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This week the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) welcomed Jessica Clark to the role of Yalingwa Curator. An independent curator and PhD candidate at the Victorian College of the Arts, Jessica will be responsible for conceiving and realising the 2023 Yalingwa exhibition at ACCA, which is the third in a series of First Nations exhibitions arranged as part of the Yalingwa visual arts initiative. 

ACCA Artistic Director/CEO Max Delany said Jessica’s achievements as an emerging curator and academic, and her interests in art history, education and exploring inter-cultural relationships between people, place and materials will bring a rich perspective to the role.   

“Conversation is central to Jessica’s curatorial practice, who has worked extensively engaging First People’s artistic, cultural practices and community practices. Jessica is an active participant in local and international cultural and curatorial exchange programs, with a curatorial methodology focused on consultation, care and respect”.

“We are excited to have Jessica join the curatorial team at ACCA and to build on the highly acclaimed Yalingwa exhibition series, which includes A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness, curated by Hannah Presley at ACCA in 2018, and Stacie Piper’s 2021 TarraWarra exhibition, Wilam Biik,” Max said. 

Jessica is a proud Tasmanian Aboriginal woman. She was born in nipaluna, lutruwita (Hobart, Tasmania) and currently lives and works on Wurundjeri Country in Naarm (Melbourne). Her independent practice is focused on fostering critical curatorial engagement with the presentation of Aboriginal art, with an interest in challenging preconceived ideas/ideals about what Aboriginal art is and can be.

Jessica Clark has said of her appointment: “It’s a great privilege to take up the role of Yalingwa Curator at ACCA. I feel honoured to have this opportunity to work in dialogue with the ground-breaking exhibitions that have been previously curated by Hannah Presley and Stacie Piper in this role. I am excited at the opportunity to develop this third iteration of the Yalingwa visual arts initiative and to join the fabulous ACCA team and be guided by their expertise. This will be my first ongoing curatorial appointment in an institution-based context, and I am excited at the new opportunities and platform the exhibition will offer contemporary Aboriginal artists. I look forward to meeting with the Yalingwa Directions Circle, to start the conversations, and connect with artists; their current ideas, interests and contemporary art practices.” 

As an independent curator Jessica Clark has developed an impressive series of exhibitions and projects including TELL: Contemporary Indigenous Photography (2017–218) for the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, the first exhibition in the biennale’s history dedicated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art. As curator for the exhibition VIETNAM: ONE IN, ALL IN (2019–2020), Jessica worked with an entirely First Nations led creative team to develop an interview-based exhibition model in response to the cultural and political sensitives inherent in the honouring and acknowledgement of the service and lived experience of South Australian Aboriginal Vietnam Veterans.  

 Recent exhibition projects include breathing space (2021) and one (&) another (2020) at Margaret Lawrence Gallery, In and of this place (2021) at Benalla Art Gallery [online], and as part of the team for the national touring exhibition Experimenta Life Forms: International Triennial of Media Art (2021–2023). Jessica is a current participant in the International Curators ProgramAsia Pacific Triennial x TarraWarra Biennial (2021–2023), and alumni of: PIAD First Nations Colloquium, South Africa (2019), Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Cultural Keepers Program (2017–2021), Wesfarmers Indigenous Arts Leadership Program at the National Gallery of Australia (2018), Signature Works: Innovation Lab (2018), and the First Nations Curators Program at the Venice Biennale (2017). 

About the Yalingwa Initiative 

Yalingwa is a visual arts initiative of the Victorian Government, developed in partnership with ACCA and Tarrawarra Museum of Art, that aims to support the development of outstanding contemporary First Peoples’ art and curatorial practice, with a primary focus on southeast Australian Aboriginal artists within a national context. 

The Yalingwa project has been designed to provide a platform for First Peoples artists and curators to develop their work at a senior professional level within a leading and high-profile public gallery and museum context, as well as offering a series of First Peoples Artist Fellowships.

The Yalingwa series encompasses three discrete but related program elements as follows:

  • Curatorial positions for First Peoples curators
  • A major exhibition focussing on commissions by contemporary First Peoples artists
  • Artist Fellowships of $60,000 for senior South East Australian First Nations artists who have made an important contribution to the development of Indigenous cultural expression.

The Yalingwa Initiative was inaugurated at ACCA in 2017–2019, with the second cycle following at TarraWarra from 2020–2021. This third edition of the series will be held at ACCA over 2022–2024, with the Yalingwa Curator to be appointed in late 2021, who will be lead the research and development of the exhibition scheduled at ACCA in 2023, among other roles. The program is overseen by the Yalingwa Directions Circle, chaired by Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin AO, that includes First Nations Elders and cultural, curatorial and community leaders.

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
111 Sturt Street, Southbank VIC 3006
Melbourne, Australia
Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday 10am–5pm, Weekends 11am–5pm Entry free

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For further media information:
Katrina Hall

ACCA acknowledges the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation as sovereign custodians of the land on which we work and welcome visitors, who have cared for Country and culture over millennia, and continue to do so. We extend our respect to ancestors and Elders past and present, and to all First Nations people.