2019 Program

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Subverting 'The Intolerable Narrative'

Subverting 'The Intolerable Narrative'

Curated by Nikita Holcombe with Kirra Weingarth, Stella Chen, Carmen Glynn-Braun, Dennis Golding & Linda Sok

Gallery 1
Opening 06.03.19 6-8pm
Artist Talks 28.03.19 6-7pm

Subverting ‘The Intolerable Narrative’ is an exhibition that explores the multiple ways that beauty and ‘gentle aesthetics’(1) can be employed to address traumatic events or ‘intolerable narratives’ that are embedded within familial histories. The exhibition is a curatorial project between Australian writer and curator Nikita Holcombe in collaboration with Taiwanese Australian artist Stella Chen, Kamilaroi/Gamillaraay artist Dennis Golding Weatherall, Southern Arrernte, Kaytetye and Ammatyerre nations artist Carmen Glynn-Braun, Cambodian Australian artist Linda Sok and Biri artist Kirra Weingarth. 

The selected artworks stem from the artist’s position within Australia and their individual exploration the intergenerational effects of trauma through the lens of their indigenous and migrant perspectives. The artists will actively engage with each other’s narratives to present confronting histories and traumatic events through a range of varied aesthetic strategies.

The exhibition will showcase and interweave the strategies employed to gently welcome the viewer into the artwork in order to soften the initial contact with content regarding uncomfortable and often unpublicised traumas. 

This interaction therefore spurs a deeper level of engagement with the artwork’s content and builds a level of understanding with the histories being presented. Through these artworks, the artists interrogate notions of the domesticity, generational resilience, and the practice of artistic memorialisation.

The presentation of the exhibition within Firstdraft’s space will engage its audiences in difficult discourses through this methodology. The exhibition will also develop public programs in the form of an interactive lectures to further develop the artists’ processes for engaging the use of gentle aesthetics. A written text by Nikita Holcombe and publication will be produced for this exhibition.

(1) Carmen Glynn-Braun

Read full exhibition catalogue here.


Nikita Holcombe b.1996, Canberra. 
Nikita Holcombe is an emerging Sydney-based writer, researcher and curator based in Sydney. Her research focuses on the depiction of violent incidents by victims within a contemporary art context. She has a Bachelor and Honours (First Class) in Art Theory from UNSW Art and Design. 

Kirra Weingarth 
Kirra is a Sydney based artist graduating from a Bachelor of Design (HONS) at UNSW Art & Design. She is originally from the Far North Coast but has lived in Sydney for the past ten years. As a descendent of the Biri and Juru people of North East Queensland, Kirra’s background encourages her to explore identity, cultural reconnection and layered histories through her interdisciplinary practice. Kirra is interested in engaging conversations that promote cultural advocacy, ownership and empowerment.

Stella Chen, b.1985, Taiwan. 
Stella Chen is a Taiwanese Australian multidisciplinary artist, living and working in Sydney. Her work explores the legacy of lived experience with post-memory, intergenerational trauma and resilience. Her artistic practice focuses on the materiality of plants and minerals; their association with the environment, and their relationship to us socially and politically.

The process of researching, object making, activating the objects through her performance and installation allows her to reflect on and examine my personal and cultural history as a Taiwanese Australian. She adopts the use of humble materials that are often overlooked. Seeking resolution is not the aim of her work, rather embracing resilience, quietness, slowness, stillness, fragility, ephemerality and vulnerability is her main intention.  

She holds a MArt from UNSW Art & Design, and is currently a MPhil candidate. She was the recipient for Waverley Art Prize 2016, Highly Commended for UNSW Emerging Artist Kudos Award 2015; she has been exhibited internationally, including solo exhbitions at Stacks Projects, AIRSpace Projects, Sydney. Group Exhibitions at Cat Street Gallery, HK, Beyond Belfast, Ireland, and the curatorial program “Doing Feminism/Sharing the World” by Prof. Anne Marsh with Favour Economy in Melbourne, 2017 - 2018. Her work is held in private collection both nationally and internationally.”

Carmen Glynn-Braun, b. 1987, Alice Springs. 
Carmen Glynn-Braun, born in Alice Springs 1987 now based in Sydney. She is an emerging Indigenous Australian artist stemming from the Southern Arrernte, Kaytetye, and Ammatyerre nations across Central Australia. She has completed her Honours year of a Bachelor of Fine Arts with UNSW Art and Design. She delves in many trans-disciplinary mediums and my work predominantly explores lived experiences of Aboriginal women translated through gentle and experimental approaches to materials and form. 

Dennis Golding, Sydney. 
Working in a range of media including painting, installation, photography and video, Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay artist Dennis Golding pursues a critical view of social, political and cultural representations of race and identity through Aboriginal Australian histories and contemporary experiences.

The Sydney born artist grew up in Redfern and now resides in the eastern suburbs at Little Bay. Golding recently completed his Honours program in a Bachelor of Fine Arts at UNSW Art & Design, Paddington and has exhibited in local Sydney galleries and institutions including Home@375 Gallery, Australian Design Centre, NSW Parliament House and Campbelltown Arts Centre in which he won the Aboriginal Art Prize in the 2018 Fishers Ghost Award.

Other professional development experiences have led Golding to work as an assistant curator as part of his studies and was mentored by lead curator Tess Allas in Under Pressure (2017) at the Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Art Gallery of South Australia. He also worked as an assistant curator for Ngurrambaa (2018) at Murray Art Museum Albury.

Golding also works part time at Australian Design Centre as the First Nations Creative Producer and Google Australia as a graphic designer.

Linda Sok, b.1993, Sydney. 
Linda Sok (b.1993, Sydney) is an Australian-Cambodian artist whose practice predominantly focuses on the materiality of objects and their potentials in relation to her Khmer culture. Cultural objects and text play an important yet exploratory role in her practice, particularly due to the rupture which forced her parent’s migration. Exploring notions of diaspora, dislocation and trauma, her works also investigate her parents’ experience of the Khmer Rouge and the genealogical effects that it has had on her. 

Sok has exhibited at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, UNSW Galleries, and Eden Unearthed. She received the Highly Commended award at the Kudos Emerging Artist & Design Award and was a finalist in the Jenny Birt Awards. Sok completed her degree in Fine Arts (Honours) at the University of New South Wales, Art & Design, receiving a University Medal and finishing with First Class Honours.

Media player partner Lupa

Dennis Golding. Revisiting, 2019. 1920x1080, Two-Channel Video. Still image 6'10

Kirra Weingarth, Connections Reignited: Indigenous Lighting Artefacts (detail), 2018. Illumina porcelain, found sea objects, seaweeds, pine needles and sawdust.

Stella Chen, May This Be The Fruit, 2018, performance installation, grid projection, sound, muslin, paper, peat moss, glass, brush, bone broth, silver wire, pyrite_3mX2m_10 minutes, (This performance was curated by Linda Luke, Marcus Whale and Tess De Quincey for De Quincey Co. Platform18 ) Photographed by Julia Featherstone

Linda Sok, For my ancestors (ritual for the dead), 2018, mesh fabric, gold leaf, string, metal. dimensions variable.(detail shot)

Linda Sok, mosquito nets, 2019, gold leaf, string, metal. dimensions variable. detail shot