'Future Primitive' brings together works by 19 artists from Australia and New Zealand to explore a renewed engagement with primitivism in contemporary art.
'Future Primitive' brings together works by 19 artists from Australia and New Zealand to explore a renewed engagement with primitivism in contemporary art. Their works perform a kind of time travel, as they conjoin modernist forms with atavistic, totemic or tribal motifs, and create speculative worlds from images and ideas drawn from multiple cultures and times.
The word ‘primitive’ has often been used in the West to describe whatever its present lacks – for example, after World War I the Dadaists embraced the ‘primitive’ as a counter to the shortcomings of European ‘civilization’. Today a similar move may be taking place. Primitivism – stripped of negative racial or cultural identifications – is again a magnet of attraction for artists. While they speculate on possible futures at a time of deep uncertainty, many artists have turned to using basic materials and process, or to intense expressions of life using ceremony, ritual, the body and its senses.
Within today’s relentless focus on the ‘now’, many of the works in 'Future Primitive' move forward and back between past and future, going back to origins, whether ancestral, animal, or cultural, in an attempt to find out how to live better in a world in crisis or to question its values.