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Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

The National 2021 at the MCA


Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am to 5pm Friday 26 March 2021 to Sunday 22 August 2021

13 artists consider diverse approaches to the environment, storytelling and inter-generational learning through their works in The National 2021 at the MCA.

Drawing on natural materials and processes, as well as found objects and detritus, they explore notions of planetary caretaking, and our relationship to place in an era of dramatic change.

Unseen physical forces – wind, gases, emissions – power some works, while others transform plant matter, kangaroo teeth, echidna quills and plastic waste into powerful statements. Women’s practice is central to The National 2021 at the MCA, explored through diasporic and familial histories, labour and learning, and wider mythological narratives. Symbiosis in nature, revealed through the co-habitation of diverse creatures (termites, ants, birds and their eggs) in the termite mounds of North-east Arnhem Land is an enduring motif in the exhibition, demonstrating patterns of connection and the balance of all things in the natural world.

The National 2021: New Australian Art at the MCA is curated by Chief Curator Rachel Kent.

MCA artists

  • Lauren Berkowitz (VIC)

  • Maree Clarke (VIC)

  • Mehwish Iqbal (NSW)

  • Kate Just (VIC)

  • Deborah Kelly (NSW)

  • Sancintya Mohini Simpson (QLD)

  • Betty Kuntiwa Pumani (SA)

  • Cameron Robbins (VIC)

  • Caroline Rothwell (NSW)

  • Sally Smart (VIC)

  • Mulkun Wirrpanda (NT)

  • John Wolseley (VIC)

  • Judith Wright (QLD)

About the exhibition

The National: New Australian Art presents the latest ideas and forms in contemporary Australian art, curated across three of Sydney’s premier cultural institutions: the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Carriageworks and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. A 6-year initiative over 3 editions in 2017, 2019 and 2021, the curatorial vision for the exhibition represents a mix of emerging, mid-career and established Australian artists living here and abroad. New and commissioned works encompass a diverse range of mediums including painting, video, sculpture, installation, drawing and performance. Connecting three of Sydney’s key cultural precincts – The Domain, Redfern and Circular Quay – The National: New Australian Art is the only large-scale recurring exhibition in the city focused solely on contemporary Australian art.

Curators of the 2021 edition of The National: New Australian Art are Matt Cox, Curator of Asian art with Erin Vink, Assistant Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Art Gallery of New South Wales; Abigail Moncrieff, independent curator, Carriageworks; and Rachel Kent, Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

Contact event organiser

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia


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