By Robert Owen
On the time scale of evolution, our species scarcely registers. But in terms of its impact on the resources of the planet, and on the genetic heritage, which is the living foundation of the future, our brief history is all too significant. It is a story of destruction.
– Norman Myers, Evolution in Crisis, The Gaia Atlas of Planet Management, 1985
Inland engaged the work of twenty-three artists, forming an experience of three distinct installations that occupied the three gallery spaces of ACCA. Each artist’s work was treated as a distinct semantic unit; each room, a visual metaphor for a spatial environment linking ideas, information and context. Departing from the expectation of the gallery as a centre, Inland was about an interior that is a desert, a kind of absence.
An idea was mooted to hold an exhibition at ACCA to raise funds for the Conservation Foundation. I suggested that, rather than have artists donating their works to raise money, one could curate an exhibition that would address the issues. Grazia Gunn, then Director, was enthusiastic and asked me to put a proposal together.
At the beginning, I had no curatorial premise, other than the issue of conservation and ecology. So it began as a ‘seed’ that grew in discussions with other artists; as an exhibition of correspondences and inter-related concerns and ideas, and using artists' works to illustrate both their own rich meanings and to enlarge upon the broader issues of art and culture.
I was interested in Wittgenstein’s idea of family resemblance, Barthes' excess of meaning and Bateson’s ecology on mind. I wanted to emphasise the idea of spiritual dislocation, to weave a density of meaning to tell a story, or a number of stories that would give life to works in a new way with new relationships.
Objects and images were hung at the periphery of the rooms as a metaphor for the way we live on the edge of the continent, and our cultural fringe, the artist's identity secondary to the context of the works produced.
I was concerned with integrating different age groups and genders in a way that would allow a total integration without reference to seniority or position and to consider the catalogue as evidence and an extension of the exhibition. As I was included in the exhibition, John Barber wrote the forward and the writers were regarded as artists too.
The exhibition Inland was held at ACCA from 1 November – 2 December 1990.
Exhibiting Artists: George Alexander, Suzanne Barta, Teri Bird, Joan Brassil, Paul Carter, Tony Clark, Aleks Danko, John De Silento, Neil Emmerson, Rosalie Gascoigne, Joan D. Grounds, Graeme Hare, Tim Johnson, Penelope Lee, John Lethbridge, Geoff Lowe, Robert MacPherson, John Nixon, Robert Owen, Mike Parr, Stieg Persson, Marie Sierra, Imants Tillers, Jennifer Turpin, Wendy Webb
Robert Owen is a Melbourne-based artist. In 1990 he worked as an associate professor and course coordinator of sculpture at RMIT University and sat on the board of, what was then, 200 Gertrude Street. He is currently working full time in the studio on his art practice and public art commissions and is an adjunct professor in Art in Public Space at RMIT University.