Explore Overlapping Magisteria: The 2020 Macfarlane Commissions at ACCA

Explore Overlapping Magisteria: The 2020 Macfarlane Commissions with artists Robert Andrew, Mimosa Echard, Sidney McMahon, Sam Petersen and Isadora Vaughan.

Overlapping Magisteria: The 2020 Macfarlane Commissions is the second edition of a multi-year partnership that supports ambitious projects by contemporary artists. Encompassing living organisms, kinetic installations and immersive assemblages, Overlapping Magisteria pays attention to multiple ways of knowing, sensing, feeling and interacting with the world. The works by participating artists draw on various social, cultural, technical and material forms, unsettling the lingering divide between nature and culture towards more complex realms of knowledge and experience.

The exhibition title Overlapping Magisteria asserts a position against historical desires to separate science and religion (or metaphysics) as distinct fields of enquiry into the human relationship with the natural world. The phrase ‘non-overlapping magisteria’ was coined by Stephen Jay Gould in an attempt to explain how the domain of science is informed by empirical facts of the material world, while that of religion or spirituality is subject to moral, ethical and emotional influences – and that one does not aid in an understanding of, nor discount, the other.

This exhibition encompasses works that explicitly imbricate these realms, bringing together material facts and immaterial values, rational and irrational, animate and inanimate forms, without one having dominion or mastery over another. The works in Overlapping Magisteria are the outcome of astute observations and reflections on language, culture, land use, bodies, architecture and practices that have often been marginalised by historically dominant paradigms. Some works explore psychic and social realms, and pleasures inherent in the senses. Others encourage us to learn from non-human organisms, entities and elements.

The artists in Overlapping Magisteria layer intuitive and sensory material responses with ideas drawn from across disciplinary as well as metaphysical domains to consider the possibilities of a world in flux, transformation and entropy.

Curators: Max Delany and Miriam Kelly

The development of Isadora Vaughan’s new work has been additionally supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.

The development of Sidney McMahon’s new work has been additionally supported by Create New South Wales.