2 March 2020

Sydney performance artists to display spectacular digital world on the NGA

| Hayden Fritzlaff
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In Muva We Trus

In Muva We Trust will be projected on to the walls of the NGA for Enlighten Festival. Photo: Region Media.

The National Gallery of Australia is welcoming a major new commission this week, and it’s going to be rather hard to miss.

Club Ate, a collective of Sydney performance artists, is set to unveil its brand new work In Muva We Trust, a monumental video projection that will enliven the gallery’s iconic 60-metre-tall façade throughout the Enlighten Festival.

In Muva We Trust animates mythic ancestral beings and landscapes to envision new forms of motherhood, community and ecology,” says Club Ate artist Justin Shoulder. “It asks the question: ‘in the face of an uncertain future, how do we, as queer communities of colour, cultivate hope and create possibility?’”

I am raining

Justin Shoulder for I am raining. Digital photograph by Mat Hornby.

With this new work, Club Ate draws from the shared Filipino-Australian heritage of its two artists, Shoulder, and creative partner Bhenji Ra. Both are interdisciplinary artists, creating across video, sculpture, performance and club events, and much of their practice explores the intersections of these seemingly disparate mediums.

In Muva We Trust will use the stark, brutalist exterior walls of the National Gallery as a canvas over 11 nights, showing projections of bodies and water, and creating a spectacular moving landscape.

Along with the new commission, Club Ate is curating Club Muva, a one-night-only event experience. Club Ate’s focus on community activation often manifests itself in the form of balls, pageants and club nights, and Club Muva will merge various club and cultural traditions with subcultures such a vogueing and Australian Ball. It all comes together in a unique event that responds to the art projected high above on the walls of the NGA.

All idols

Bhenji Ra for anito | all idols (2017). Digital photograph by Tristan Jalleh.

Club Muva is a nurturing space for expression,” says Bhenji Ra. “Modelled on our performance pageants, this will be an intergenerational community dance party that is really about reimagining traditional narratives and what it can mean when bodies of resistance come together as a collective – both to resist, but also to celebrate identity.”

Club Muva, which will take place on Saturday, 7 March, will see Parkes Place graced with a procession of Asia-Pacific artists from both Canberra and Sydney in an expression of inclusivity towards queer and diasporic communities.

Genevieve Jacobs speaks with the artists

Genevieve Jacobs speaks with the artists. Photo: Region Media.

It all comes in the context of a renewed commitment from the National Gallery to supporting contemporary artists. 2019 saw Indigenous artist Tony Albert’s I Am Visible lighting up the exterior walls of the Gallery, while in 2020 Know My Name showcases art made by women from 1900 until now.

This new commission follows on from Ex Nilalang, a video series created by Club Ate and shown inside the NGA in 2018. The series explored many of the same themes as In Muva We Trust, intersecting with mythology, pop culture and the lived experience of its artists.

Ex Nilalang

Club Ate: Ex Nilalang (From Creature ~ From Creation) 2017 (production still) single-channel HD digital video. Image courtesy the artists.

You can see Club Ate: In Muva We Trust on the National Gallery of Australia Façade from Friday, 28 February to Monday, 9 March, 8:00 pm until late. Club Muva takes place on Saturday, 7 March, 8:00 pm until late. Both are free. For more information, head to nga.gov.au.

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