September at PICA is all about communication.
The Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) is currently exhibiting in the Central Galleries the work of Lebanese born and Australian-based artist Khaled Sabsabi. This is his most significant exhibition to date: A Self Portrait. Khaled’s practice is highly informed by Sufi spirituality and his own experience of moving between cultures, communities and geopolitical factors.
Upstairs, the Westend Gallery showcases the work of Argentinian born and internationally-acclaimed Amalia Pica. Organised in partnership with IMA Brisbane and Power Plant, Toronto, this is her first solo exhibition in Australia: please open hurry, a project featuring new and recent works exploring the techniques, potential and shortcomings of communication.
Last month we saw Khaled Sabsabi in conversation with PICA’s Senior Curator, Eugenio Viola in an intimate tour around the gallery, and a well-attended illustrated lecture by Amalia Pica. This was the start of The Communication Series, PICA’s new tailored public programme, conceived to engage with its loyal public and to meet new, different audiences.
The Communication Series #2 kicks off with Art & Identity: Muslim Artists in Western Australia. This is a PICA and Centre For Stories collaboration conceived to explore what it means to create spiritually engaged work in WA. The aim is to share stories about empowerment and start conversations about building stronger communities and platforms for Islamic people here in Perth. Unfortunately, our uncertain times are experiencing an upsurge of intolerance at every level, and too often terrorism is wrongfully connected with Islam.
“The work of artists like Sabsabi plays such an important role in building our understanding of the Islamic world and of Islam as a religion of peace”, Eugenio Viola says. “At PICA, we are fully dedicated to creating public programs that encourage intercultural conversations to engage our audiences, both new and old, through progressive learning.”
At PICA you can also catch an exceptional choreographed dance work in response to, and inspired by, Amalia Pica's work, Catalogue of great ape gestures (in alphabetical order). This work was initially choreographed by Brisbane based Michael Smith and will be performed by WA based dance-artist Storm Helmore.
Later in the month, visitors will learn to broaden their own communication skills in a unique, hands-on experience with an introductory AUSLAN course. The Communication Series #3 will offer introductory conversation skills, how to fingerspell and inspire awareness and understanding of deaf culture.
“These two exhibitions currently on view at PICA, deal in a different and complementary way with issues of (mis)communication: upstairs, Amalia Pica’s work investigates the dialogue between apes and humans, while downstairs, Khaled Sabsabi’s project deals with issues of miscommunication between humans ,” Eugenio Viola says.
The Communication Series #2 is on 8 September and Series #3 is on 22 September.