The National Art School (NAS) is proud to present OCCURRENT AFFAIR, a major exhibition of new and recent works by Meanjin/Brisbane-based Aboriginal artist collective proppaNOW, featuring the practices of Vernon Ah Kee, Tony Albert, Richard Bell, Megan Cope, Jennifer Herd, Gordon Hookey and the late Laurie Nilsen.
OCCURRENT AFFAIR references the sensational journalistic style of certain television current affair programs, and embraces the slippage between language and its associated readings to probe and present new narratives. The exhibition highlights and reflects on the ongoing state of affairs affecting Aboriginal communities – issues relevant to all Australians.
Conceived as a collaborative activist gesture, OCCURRENT AFFAIR addresses current socio-political, economic and environmental issues, while celebrating the strength, resilience and continuity of Aboriginal culture. Issues surrounding the artworks extend to pertinent and recurring ‘affairs’ for Aboriginal and non-Indigenous Australians, including the climate crisis, collectivism, healthcare, justice, truth-telling and healing.
After opening in 2021 at The University of Queensland Art Museum in Brisbane, OCCURRENT AFFAIR is touring nationally with Museums & Galleries of NSW from 2023-2025. The exhibition provides opportunities to speak to ideas and concerns particular to Country wherever it is presented, strengthening existing relationships and fostering new ones.
NAS Director and CEO Steven Alderton said, “It’s an honour to present this important exhibition with such a powerful vision of Australian contemporary art. It comes at a crucial time to critique the influence of media around First Nations issues in Australia, the response to truth-telling, who is allowed to speak and how social media impacts critical and civil debate.”
Established in 2003 in Brisbane, proppaNOW is one of Australia’s leading cultural collectives, exploring the politics of Aboriginal art and culture, and provoking, subverting and re-thinking what it means to be a ‘contemporary Aboriginal artist’. proppaNOW is a thesis, a language and an idea – a collective space for critical dialogue, intergenerational membership and artistic practice. In 2022 proppaNOW was awarded the Jane Lombard Prize for Art and Social Justice in the US.
This education resource has been written by Merindah Funnell, Emma Hicks and Nicole Barakat for FLENK Collective and produced in partnership with Museums & Galleries of NSW and UQ Art Museum for the touring exhibition OCCURRENT AFFAIR. This exhibition, showcasing work by influential urban Aboriginal collective proppaNOW, was initially exhibited at UQ Art Museum in 2021 and is now touring across Australia.
We invite you to listen to the recorded panel discussion, “Sovereignty was never ceded: Protest, resistance, and resilience in the work of the proppaNOW artist collective”. This enlightening talk, featuring Dr. Stephen Gilchrist and members of the proppaNOW collective, examines their collaborative approach to art and activism. Access the recording on the following link.
This exhibition from The University of Queensland Art Museum touring with Museums & Galleries of NSW has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, and the Australian Government’s Visions of Australia program.