Physically, temporally, and psychically bound, our sense of place is mercurial by nature. It shifts, expands, and contracts, becoming a synthesis of all that has preceded and all that is yet to arrive. Between ‘place’ and ‘djeembana’ is a lacuna in language. Direct translation fails. Djeembana, a word of the Boon Wurrung, is a place for community; a meeting point for the exchange of stories, rituals and knowledge.
When we speak of place, we look to invoke that which djeembana signifies. Serving as the Fair’s thematic for 2022, ‘djeembana’ and ‘place’ will, together, through a contemporary art lens, address our sense of place in an increasingly unsustainable, globalised world. Melbourne Art Fair will command its programming to function as a locus for intersecting perceptions relevant to the current moment with careful examination of issues pertinent to both the local and global.
Recent tumult – social, ecological, and political – has caused an irrevocable shift in our sense of place, challenging established assumptions of known places and our role within them. The need for new frameworks to comprehend underlying histories as well as the complexities of the present is urgent.
Advocating for contemporary art as a force for social change, Melbourne Art Fair believes in the power of ideas to surface salient issues of our time. Privileging underrepresented voices, Melbourne Art Fair will serve as a meeting point for community – artists, curators, collectors and patrons alike – to redefine and deepen relationships to place as individuals and as collectives.
We thank N’arweet Carolyn Briggs AM, Chair of the Boonwurrung Foundation and writer of the Boonwurrung language, for her consent to the use of the word Djeembana, which means ‘community’, in her authority as recognised Elder, Traditional Owner and linguist.
Kaylene Whiskey in her studio, recipient of the Melbourne Art Foundation 2022 Commission in partnership with ACMI. Photo courtesy of Iwantja Arts, photographer: Meg Hansen.
Established in 2006, the Melbourne Art Foundation Commission program provides a living artist with a rare opportunity to realise a large-scale work for unveiling at Melbourne Art Fair, which is later gifted to a prominent Australian institution.
Melbourne Art Foundation and Australia’s national museum of screen culture, ACMI, are proud to announce Kaylene Whiskey as the recipient of the Melbourne Art Foundation 2022 Commission, supported by Artwork Transport and Panasonic. Whiskey’s new video work will be the ninth commission of the 15-year program.
Previous partners in the program have include HOTA Gallery, Bendigo Art Gallery, NGV, QAGOMA, the University of Queensland Art Museum, MCA, Art Gallery of South Australia, National Gallery of Australia; and artists Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Ronnie van Hout, Michael Parekowhai, David Griggs, Peter Hennessey, Jon Campbell, Ian Burns, and Mikala Dwyer.
Making its debut at Melbourne Art Fair in 2022, BEYOND harnessed the monumental exhibition spaces within the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre to present six large-scale installations and spatial interventions that respond to the theme djeembana/place. BEYOND was curated by independent curator and writer, Emily Cormack. Melbourne Art Foundation supported the inaugural sector by providing a monetary grant to participating Beyond galleries.
'WAKING THE SLEEPING STATUES'
“The moving van turns the corner.
Arcades in the sun. Sleeping statues.
Red smokestacks; nostalgia for unknown horizons.” 
The unknowable essence of place described in this poem by painter Giorgio de Chirico is us. The pivoting, pirouetting truth of our Covid moment is disorienting and all we can do is feel for place, sense our surroundings. In us is the stillness of empty streets and sleeping statues. Life paused, bracing for news, pacing our small perimeters. Nostalgia for unknown horizons is our constant condition, as linear time fails to keep up with the whimsy of our locked-down, wandering minds.
For Melbourne Art Fair 2022: Beyond we have commissioned six sculptural installations, each of which turn to this strange stilled, cusping moment – dwelling on the no-place / some place that we are in. Working across media and style the works are offered up to the viewer, as sculpture, video, fabric, river reed and dance – inviting the viewer to wake with them, to begin anew, together.
Featuring new work by Matt Arbuckle, Maree Clarke, Sean Meilak, Nabilah Nordin, Caroline Rothwell and Sally Smart, each of the works question what this place is when we are without each other. In different ways the works draw us to one another – inviting physical proximity, wrapping us, inviting us to dance, sit or digitally interact, enveloping us and affecting us. For MAF’s Beyond 2022 the commissions seek a direct connection with the viewer, tapping onto our energy fields and inviting us to connect once again. Occupying ideas of djeembana – a Boonwurrung term for community, exchange, and meeting points, these works illuminate those moments when the individual meets the collective.
 Giorgio de Chirico, “A Life”, The Collected Poems Of Giorgio De Chirico, in Metaphysical Art, The De Chirico Journals, n. 14/16 (2016). Foundazione Giorgio e isa de Chirico, 2016
beyond 2022 participating artists
Presented by Glenfiddich in 2022, LIVE is an onsite/offsite performance and sound art program captivating the imagination of the artworld and art loving public. Aligned with Glenfiddich’s maverick DNA, the inaugural program celebrated trailblazers featuring Australia’s most boundary-pushing artists with critically significant performances both at the Fair and across the city.
LIVE 2022 PARTICIPATING ARTISTS
Presented by SUBTYPE in 2022, VIDEO is dedicated to the presentation of moving-image art from new and iconic international contemporary artists, curated by Nina Miall, Curator International Art at QAGOMA. The fair welcomed for the first time participation from international galleries unable to physically exhibit within the main show sector, enabling dealers from across the globe to maintain a connection with Australasia’s active and growing collector-base during the ongoing pandemic.
VIDEO 2022 PARTICIPATING ARTISTS
Conversations is a platform for critical discourse and the sharing of ideas, bringing together cultural communities and thinkers from across the creative spectrum. The aim: to address the future of art and its relationship to interdisciplinary practices and the contemporary world through a series of talks and panels featuring artists, gallerists, curators, collectors, architects, critics, scholars and cultural luminaries.
Conversations took place virtually from Friday 18 to Sunday 20 February 2022. View conversations below.
LEAD CURATOR: Melissa Bianca Amore, Art Critic, Curator, Contemporary Philosopher, and Co-Founding Director of Re-Sited based in New York and Naarm/Melbourne
Professor Callum Morton, Artist, Professor of Fine Art and Director Monash Art Projects at Monash University
Alana Kushnir, Art lawyer, advisor, curator, and Director Guest Work Agency
Maree Clarke, Yorta Yorta, Wamba Wamba, Mutti Mutti and Boonwurrung woman and artist
Daniel Palmer, Art historian and Curator at Public Art Fund, New York
Tara McDowell, Associate Professor and Director of Curatorial Practice at Monash University
ALREADY A PLACE
Moderator: Professor Brian Martin
Speakers: Maree Clarke; Yhonnie Scarce; Tristen Harwood; Megan Cope
Sharing its title from a chapter in the publication Lets Go Outside: Making Public Art presented by Monash University Museum of Art, Already A Place examines notions of “public art making” and “place making.” This panel explores the relationship between ‘djeembana and place’ while centering origins of Place within Indigenous ways of knowing. Featuring perspectives of artists and writers, we explore how artists sustain and articulate Indigenous knowledges, discourses and culture–connections to Place and Country–while configuring these into contemporary creative practices. We ask: how are cultural practices mobilized and transferred through the (re)articulation of the agency of Country?
Join Moderator Professor Brian Martin (Bundjalung, Muruwari and Kamilaroi), Artist and Director Wominjkea Djeembana Research Lab, Art, Design and Architecture, Monash University in conversation with Indigenous arts writer, cultural critic Tristen Harwood and multidisciplinary artists Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta, BoonWurrung/Wemba Wemba Maree Clarke; Descendent of the Kokatha and Nukunu people of South Australia; Yhonnie Scarce and Australian Aboriginal artist Megan Cope from the Quandamooka people of Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah, who will discuss various projects including, Clarke’s recent Ancestral Memories exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Yhonnie Scarce’s solo exhibition Missile Park at ACCA and Megan Cope’s recent inclusion in the exhibition UN/LEARNING in Seoul, South Korea.
THE (ART) CENTRE OF THE WORLD
Moderated by Dr. Henry Skerritt
Speakers: Kimberley Moutlon, Bruce McLean and Professor Fred Myers
Produced in collaboration with Agency Projects
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Papunya Tula Artists: the first Indigenous-owned art center in Australia. Over the past half-century, artists from Indigenous art centres have been among Australia’s most internationally recognized, gaining inclusion in major biennials, museum collections and exhibitions around the globe. This panel considers the role of art centers in the increasingly global art world, examining their continuing success and considering their potential as sites for cross-cultural collaboration and institutional engagement.
Join Moderator Henry Skerritt, Mellon Curator of Indigenous Arts of Australia at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia in conversation with Bruce Johnson-Mclean, Assistant Director Indigenous Engagement, National Gallery of Australia; Kimberley Moulton, Senior Curator, South-Eastern Aboriginal Collections at Museums Victoria and Artistic Associate for RISING Festival Melbourne and Professor Fred Myers, Silver Professor of Anthropology, New York University.
HEADLINE INTERVIEW: ERIK JENSEN IN CONVERSATION WITH MARCIA LANGTON AND BROOK ANDREW
Headline interview with Professor Marcia Langton AM art writer and curator, anthropologist and geographer and interdisciplinary artist, writer and Artistic Director of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, Dr Brook Andrew. The panel discussion will be moderated by Australian journalist, author and Editor of The Saturday Paper, Erik Jensen surrounding Professor Marcia Langton’s curation of the forthcoming exhibition 65,000 YEARS: A SHORT HISTORY OF AUSTRALIAN ART, at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne and Brook Andrew’s international projects including his co-curator role for the exhibition Care, Repair and Healing at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin.
Professor Marcia Langton AM is an anthropologist and geographer, and since 2000 has held the Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne and Dr Brook Andrew is an artist, writer, curator and Director of Imagining Museums and Collections and Enterprise Professor at the University of Melbourne, and Associate Professor MADA Monash University; Moderator, Erik Jensen, Australian journalist, author and Editor of The Saturday Paper.
Local-Global: Redefining the Terms
Moderator: Alexie Glass-Kantor
Speakers: Nina Miall; Kimberley Moulton; Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran; Cosmin Costinas and Aaron Seeto
How do we understand the complexities and integration between local and global contexts? The new landscape of interactivity accelerated by the global pandemic has prompted a revaluation of the term “Globalization”–making the art world re-address notions of proximity and distance as well as re-examining cross-cultural discourses and the reflexive return to local communities. Join leading art curators, museum directors and artists in an international dialogue from Indonesia, Australia and Hong Kong discussing critical questions about the future space of art: where is the local located? What is the role and responsibility of the local in the global and how do we address the speculative nature of “cultural agency” and “national identity?
Moderated by renowned curator and Executive Director of Artspace Sydney, Alexie Glass-Kantor in conversation with Aaron Seeto, Director of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (Museum MACAN); Nina Miall Curator of International Art, QAGOMA; sculptor Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran; Executive Director of Para Site, Hong Kong and former Artistic Director of Kathmandu Triennale Cosmin Costinas, and Kimberley Moulton, Senior Curator, South-Eastern Aboriginal Collections at Museums Victoria and Artistic Associate for RISING Festival Melbourne.
THE ROLE OF PUBLIC ART & ARCHITECTURE IN FRAMING NOTIONS OF PLACE: 'SHIFTING PERCEPTION AND ACTIVATING SOCIAL CHANGE'
Moderator: Charlotte Day
Speakers: John Denton; Barbara Flynn; Jamie Perrow; Judy Watson; Lou Weis.
Public Art and Architecture has the potential to transform the way we interact with culture, site, and notions of “public.” This panel brings together leading public art commissioners, curators, and artists to discuss the role of Public Art and Architecture in framing conceptions of place, perceptual orientation and social and cultural engagement. We ask: can public art and architecture shift and motivate social change? How can we most sensitively and effectively connect to Country while recognising our colonial and settler histories? And how can we best work to overcome limitations and constraints to the commissioning, design and shaping of our shared social spaces?
Moderated by Director, Monash University Museum of Art Charlotte Day in conversation with Founding Director, Denton Corker Marshall, John Denton; Curator and Advisor Barbara Flynn; Senior Principal, Urban Art Projects, Jamie Perrow; multi-media artist Judy Watson; and Broached Commissions Lou Weis.
THE FUTURE OF ART: HOW TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING THE LANDSCAPE
Moderator: Rose Hiscock
Speakers: Refik Anadol; Stelarc; Christiane Paul; Paul. D. Miller (aka dj spooky)
Enabled by artificial intelligence, data, quantum computing and algorithms, the world of technology has transformed the visual and perceptual landscape of art. Join celebrated artists, scholars and curators from the United States and Australia in discussion about new technologies and the accelerated shift to spatial environments. We examine how technology has redefined notions of place, space and the built environment as well as re-defining the borderless intersection of art, the spectator and technology.
Moderated by Director of Museums and Collections at The University of Melbourne, Rose Hiscock in conversation with new media artist Refik Anadol; Adjunct Curator of Digital Art, Whitney Museum of Art, New York and Professor of Media Studies, The New School, New York, Christiane Paul; performance artist Stelarc and composer, multimedia artist and writer Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky.
THE PLACE OF CRITICISM
Moderator: Una Rey
Speakers: Brad Haylock; Daniel Browning; Dan Fox; Elaine Ng; Cassandra Bird
The Place of Art Criticism is a fast-paced conversation on the slow art of considered criticism. Speakers from Australia, Hong Kong and the United States interrogate the rigour and relevance of art criticism – and its softer bed-fellas – within the slippery category of art writing and publishing.
Join Brad Haylock, co-editor of Art Writing in Crisis (Sternberg Press, 2021) and contributing writer Dan Fox, recently ‘retired’ Editor of Frieze magazine; Elaine Ng, longstanding Editor and Publisher of ArtAsiaPacific; Daniel Browning, presenter of ABC Radio National’s The Art Show and Associate Director Roslyn Oxley9, Cassandra Bird. Moderator: Una Rey, Editor of Artlink (Tarntanya / Adelaide).
THE ARTIST, THE CURATOR AND THE COLLECTOR
Moderator: Dr Terry Wu
Speakers: Lorraine Tarabay, Lindy Lee, Nick Mitzevich, Dick Quan
What role do curators and collectors play in segmenting artists’ practices? How do they interact and influence each other? In this critical panel Australia’s leading professionals and collectors discuss the intricate love triangle between the collector, the artist and the curator while addressing the psychology of collecting and how acquisitions are made. We ask: who are the taste makers? How do the taste makers impact the way we view the art landscape? Is money a dirty word?
Moderated by renowned plastic surgeon and arts advocate Dr Terry Wu in conversation with Director of the National Gallery of Australia Nick Mitzevich; Collector Dr. Dick Quan; Chair, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and Collector Lorraine Tarabay, and interdisciplinary artist Lindy Lee.