International - Making Change: Celebrating the 40 Years of Australia–China Diplomatic Relations

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Making Change

Making Change: Celebrating the 40 Years of Australia–China Diplomatic Relations

12th November - 14 December 2012 (NAMOC, Beijing)
July - August 2013 (COFA, Sydney)

Making Change is produced and presented by the Australian Centre for Photography (ACP), the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales (COFA) and the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC). The project has four key components: exhibition, catalogue, artist’s talks and education.


Making Change is an exhibition of innovative, change-making film and photo-based art by 24 of Australia’s foremost contemporary artists. The exhibition marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and China.

In 1973 Gough Whitlam became the first Australian Prime Minister to visit China. The visit established a trade agreement between the two countries, heralding a new era of successful economic and cultural ties between the two countries that has now spanned four decades. Whitlam was a key change-maker in many aspects of Australia’s development. He recognised 40 years ago that in order to transform itself into a modern world leader, Australia needed to engage both with its immediate geographic region, Asia, and its original inhabitants, the Aboriginal people. These key aspects of his legacy that helped change forever the social and cultural fabric of Australia, are inherent to Making Change.

The exhibition surveys recent work by artists who are change-makers in their perception and portrayal of modern Australia. In addition to photography, film and video, it incorporates archival photographic material from the Whitlam years, including his groundbreaking visits to China in 1971 (as Opposition leader) and 1973 (as Prime Minister).

The artists selected for the exhibition are leaders in their field, many having appeared in regional exhibitions such as the Asia-Pacific Triennial and Biennale of Sydney, as well as representing Australia on the world stage in international biennales, art and film festivals. The exhibition includes works of major Australian photojournalist and documentary photographers, Mervyn Bishop and Ricky Maynard. Australian contemporary art photography is represented through the works of artists such as Brook Andrew, Richard Bell and Destiny Deacon. Media-based and installation practice is represented through artists such as Vernon Ah Kee, Brenda L. Croft, Bindi Cole, Fiona Foley, Tracey Moffatt, Michael Riley and Judy Watson.

These artists represent the diversity of contemporary Australian photography through media, documentary, animation and installation.


A bi-lingual (English and Mandarin) catalogue will be released to complete the exhibition. It comprises of 48 colour plates curatorial introductions by Felicity Fenner and Kon Gouriotis and five texts by: Graham Freudenberg AM, Dr Stephen FitzGerald AO, Guy Betts, Brenda L.Croft and Carly Lane. The catalogue will be available in soft cover.


IMAGE © Mervyn Bishop Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into the hands of traditional land owner Vincent Lingiari, NT 1975. Courtesy the artist.