Defining Moments: Popism at the National Gallery of Victoria 1982

Mon 25 May 2020

This is a past program.
Main exhibition gallery

Lecture Topic: Popism, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1982

Speaker: Judy Annear

The exhibition POPISM was held at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1982. At 24 years old, recent honours graduate and founder and editor of Art & Text magazine, Paul Taylor was invited to curate an exhibition of contemporary Australian art. The NGV was usually described as ‘the bunker’ with apparently little connection to the local art scene or experimental practice. POPISM came like a bolt from the blue, hard on the heels of the first five issues of Art &Text.

This lecture will discuss the exhibition and the artists (Howard Arkley, David Chesworth, Ian Cox, Juan Davila, Richard Dunn, Paul Fletcher, Maria Kozic, Robert Rooney, Jane Stevenson, The Society for Other Photography, Imants Tillers, Peter Tyndall, Jenny Watson, and Tsk Tsk Tsk), provide some background and context to the ideas and practices, and the evolution of Taylor’s thinking and working. I will trace this through Taylor’s published writings, the various reactions to his activities, and the recollections and interpretations of his peers – then and now.

Judy Annear is an independent researcher and writer based in Victoria on Dja Dja Wurrung land, never ceded, and Honorary (Principal Fellow) School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne. Her fields of research include literary feminisms, and modern and contemporary art practice underpinned by a focus on periods of major technological change. Amongst other projects, she is currently researching Allan Sekula’s first visit to Australia in 1980, as a guest of Working Papers On Photography, Melbourne. Her recent publications include a small book of experimental texts The Ls 2019, as well as contributions to Photomedia Now/Everything is Interesting’ in Art Monthly Australasia October 2018, and an encyclopaedic history, The Photograph and Australia 2015.


ACCA’s Lecture Series, Defining Moments: Australian Exhibition Histories 1968–1999, will take a deeper look at the moments that have shaped Australian art since 1968. In the second year of this two-year series, seven more guest lecturers will analyse the game changers in Australian art, addressing key contemporary art exhibitions staged over the last three decades of the twentieth century and reflecting on the ways these exhibitions shaped art history and contemporary Australian culture more broadly.

Ambitious, contested, polemical, genre-defining and genre-defying, contemporary art exhibitions have shaped and transformed the cultural landscape, along with our understanding of what constitutes art itself. This program traces the legacies of artists and curators, addresses the critical reception of selected significant projects, and reflects on a wide range of exhibitions and formats; from artist run initiatives to institutions, as well as interventions in public space and remote communities.

This two-year series is presented in association with Abercrombie & Kent and Research Partner, Centre of Visual Art (CoVA) at The University of Melbourne and supported by Art Guide Australia, The Saturday Paper, Triple R, The Melbourne Gin Company, Capi and the City of Melbourne.


As ACCA is currently closed to support public health measures we will be recording our entire 2020 season and releasing all lectures online as freely available videos and podcasts on ACCA’s website and promoted across our social media channels.

A bespoke cocktail recipe created by The Melbourne Gin Company will be available alongside each lecture. We encourage you to make the cocktail with us at home!


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