New gallery exhibition by Newell Harry in Albury

Art room

Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) has announced a major exhibition by internationally celebrated contemporary artist Newell Harry, marking the artist’s largest solo project to date. Titled Esperanto, this exhibition marks the first time the gallery has presented a major solo exhibition of works by a contemporary Australian artist. The exhibition will open on 28 July 2023.

Newell Harry is an Australian-born artist of South African and Mauritian descent, whose work draws from an intimate web of connections across Oceania and the wider Indo-Pacific, to South Africa’s Western Cape Province where his extended family continue to reside. Through an ongoing syncretic process of collecting, trading and documenting, Harry examines the cultural agitation brought about by the movement of people, objects and knowledge as a result of colonial expansion, migration and globalisation.

Esperanto presents the breadth of Newell Harry’s practice, woven together in a complex network of ideas and narratives. The exhibition recognises pivotal moments in Australian, South African and Indo-Pacific histories of the 60s and 70s, such as the end of the White Australia Policy, the 1967 referendum, anti-apartheid rugby protests, environmental and anti-nuclear testing movements, as well as themes of South African pop culture, ideas of trade, gift giving, family stories of migration and care, and an open engagement with notions of museological display and value.

The exhibition features a major new commission, a large-scale photographic series set in Sydney’s Callan Park that speaks to central ideas in the artist’s practice, such as the complexity of identity, championing of the ‘other’ via the anti-narrative, and a blackening of the conceptual art canon. It also includes an expanded iteration of Harry’s archival installation Sul Mare, first shown at the 17th Istanbul Biennial, along with important works from public and private collections.

Esperanto will be accompanied by a catalogue featuring essays by Djon Mundine, Jasmin Stephens, an artist interview with James Gatt, and a text by exhibition curator Michael Moran.

MAMA has become the most visited NSW public art gallery outside of Sydney, and a cultural highlight of regional Australia since its major redevelopment and reopening in 2015. The museum is home to the National Photography Prize and has presented acclaimed exhibitions in recent years, including SIMMER, Certain realities, and Material Sound. MAMA’s Acting Director and exhibition curator, Michael Moran, expressed excitement for presenting Esperanto, Newell Harry’s largest solo project to date. Moran said the show encapsulates the museum’s vision for presenting contemporary art at the forefront of global dialogue that challenges and inspires.