Defining Moments: POPISM with Judy Annear

Independent writer and researcher Judy Annear discusses the exhibition POPISM (1982), in the first lecture in ACCA’s 2020 season of Defining Moments: Australian Exhibition Histories 1968–1999.

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.

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.

Video produced by Gatherer Media.