Words: Maddy Matheson
The second iteration of the Macfarlane Commission is set to go ahead with Overlapping Magisteria. Works by Robert Andrew, Mimosa Echard, Sidney McMahon, Sam Petersen and Isadora Vaughan will be on show at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne.
The Macfarlane Commission is a recently established set of exhibitions set to run every two years for six years. Emerging and mid-career Australian and international artists are commissioned to a set theme for an exhibition at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. The Macfarlane fund was established in 2017 by Donald Macfarlane. The primary focus is financial support for artists at all stages, from graduates to senior artists, through commissions and funded programs.
Overlapping Magisteria will include multisensory works that explore the divides between nature and culture, knowledge and experience. Stephen Jay Gould coined “non-overlapping magisteria” as the view that science and religion are separate paths of human inquiry that do not crossover and therefore are non-competitive towards one another. Both delve into interaction with the natural world but cast different nets of thinking and thus, each has a legitimate teaching authority or domain over which to govern in principled thinking.
The exhibition rejects the notion of separating science and religion and instead points to the intersections between both as avenues of exploring human connection to the natural world. Material facts and immaterial constructions, rational and irrational, animate and inanimate objects come together in harmony, refuting any notion of competition between the two. The focus of the works in Overlapping Magisteria is on the historically marginalised narratives in contexts of language, culture, land use, bodies, architecture and practices.
The artists commissioned work across mediums to explore the concept of a transformative world in flux. A world re-examined through different social and cultural lenses. Some works explore physical quantities of the world and encourage viewers to learn from non-human entities and organisms, whilst others explore psychic and social realms relating to the cultural “norm” and how we can question these narratives.
Overlapping Magisteria is on at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art from 5 Dec 2020–15 Mar 2021.
Image: Mimosa Echard, installation view of Cracher un image de toi / Spitting an image of you, (with Hannah Buonaguro and Ryan Foerster), VNH, Paris, 2019. Photo: Johanna Benaïnous. Credit: the artist and ACCA.