Anthropological Bricolage

3 September - 25 September 2010



A conversation between Rebecca Coates and Melissa Loughnan


The exhibition was conceived through a series of conversations between Melissa Loughnan, Utopian Slumps’ director, and Rebecca Coates, independent curator, writer and lecturer and Associate Curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, who has served as a curatorial mentor to Loughnan. The curators have invited Melbourne artists Katie Lee and Kate Smith to present new work in an exhibition exploring rigors of practice and the intersections and possible overlaps between two very different aesthetic responses and artistic frameworks underpinning each artist’s art-making. The pairing of work by these two exciting, dynamic younger artists forms an interesting and possibly unexpected study of materials, processes, and contemporary art making in Melbourne.

Katie Lee’s spatial explorations often take the language of minimalist sculpture and the constructed forms of our urban environment as points of departure. For the last few years, Lee has been working on large-scale installations that engage and acknowledge the site of the installation as an integral element of the work itself. Lee’s installation work references her performative practice and concerns with exploring the body. Her work uses repetition of component forms and the associative qualities of materials to implicate the work into systems that seem familiar. Part stage, part workshop, our reading of these structural frameworks is often questioned by Lee through her choice of materials or insertion of the body in space. Alongside moving image and rubber sculptural works, Lee will also present a range of her ink on paper works which have not previously been exhibited.

Kate Smith primarily works across painting, collage and assemblage to create painterly installations that can be shocking in their sparseness, or almost baroque in their excess. Smith’s training and background in art history additionally influence the conceptual and formal foundations of much of her work. Exploring ideas of authenticity as well as economy, money and agriculture, the artist’s ‘Jollie-Laid’ aesthetic intentionally defies the rules of certain artistic conventions. In the past paintings have been presented as small architectural sculptural stacks, whose structure conceals their painterly surface, whilst indicating its presence through paint spills that escape around the edge of the board.

Katie Lee completed a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Tasmania in 1998, her Honours year in sculpture at RMIT in 2004 and a Master of Fine Art from RMIT in 2009. She has been living and exhibiting in Melbourne for the past decade. Solo exhibitions includeDrawing Boundaries, Walking Lines, School of Art, RMIT, 2009; Intersection I with Dean Linguey, Ryllega Gallery, Vietnam, as part of the Run Artist Run Asialink project, 2007; Intersection II with Dean Linguey, Conical Inc., 2007;Surface <>Volume, First Site, RMIT, 2006; Hang, Conical Inc., 2005; and Section, Westspace, 2005. Group exhibitions include Risk Potential, Die Ecke Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago, Chile, 2010; 3square, Conical Inc., 2010; Opening Lines, Gertrude Street Contemporary Art Spaces, 2010; and Broken Fall (with Lou Hubbard and Susan Jacobs), St Pauls Street Gallery, Auckland University of Technology, and Newcall Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand, 2009. Katie has been a member of the Conical Inc. committee since 2006, was the program manager at Conical Inc. for several years and teaches in the Sculpture Department at RMIT.

Kate Smith was born in 1980 in rural NSW, received a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Art History, Bachelor of Arts Visual (Drawing and Printmaking) (Hons) in 2006, from the Australian National University, Canberra. After completing a six-month residency at Canberra Contemporary Art Space in 2007, Smith moved to Melbourne to expand her practice. Solo exhibitions include Monkey make a painting, Y3K gallery, 2010; You’re the cunt, donut, Ocular Lab, 2009; *tastes self* in collaboration with Alex Vivian, Hell Gallery, 2009; Can’t you act like old money, TCB art inc., Melbourne 2009; and Whoops Kibbutz, Utopian Slumps, 2008. Recent group exhibitions include New world recordscurated by Helen Johnson and Nick Mangan, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2009; Victory over the sun curated by Helen Hughes and Melissa Loughnan, Utopian Slumps, 2009; I’m worse at what I do best curated by Tom Polo, Parramatta Artist Studios, Sydney, 2009; Cross Colouring, Gambia Castle, Auckland; and Ugly Heritage, Joint Hassles, Melbourne, 2009.