Words: Erin Irwin
Once a biennial fair, Melbourne Art Fair has announced that not only will it be back with a bang in 2024, but will also transform into an annual event. The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition centre will see 60 galleries and Indigenous Art Centres next year, alongside a digital art fair and events, exhibitions, performances and installations. The 2024 fair has also announced that the theme will be ketherba, a Boon Wurrung word that expresses a togetherness imbued with promise.
“The now annual fair remains an exceptional showcase of the region’s most significant galleries and, since 2022, Indigenous-owned art centres, as a progressive forum for contemporary art and ideas”, says Melbourne Art Foundation CEO and Fair director Maree Di Pasquale. “We look forward to welcoming collectors, industry and the art loving public to the 17th edition of Melbourne Art Fair as the cultural event of the Australian summer and the official launch of the annual arts calendar.”
This hopeful and confident premise will see a plethora of participating galleries. Local galleries include 1301SW – who will be presenting alongside Auckland and Queenstown’s Starkwhite – Alcaston Gallery, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Arts Projects Australia, Blackartprojects, cbOne, Charles Nodrum Gallery, Daine Singer, Jacob Hoerner Galleries, James Makin Gallery, Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art, MARS Gallery, Neon Parc, Niagara Galleries, Nicholas Thompson Gallery, Sophie Gannon Gallery, STATION, Sullivan+Strumpf, Sutton Gallery, Tolarno Galleries, Vivien Anderson Gallery and William Mora Galleries.
These Melbourne stalwarts will be presenting alongside other fantastic galleries from further afield, including Sydney galleries Arthouse Gallery, CHALK HORSE, Darren Knight Gallery, Fox Jensen, GALLERY 9, Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert, Martin Browne Contemporary, Nanda\Hobbs, OLSEN Gallery, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, The Commercial, Vermilion Art, Wagner Contemporary and Yavuz Gallery, Perth galleries Art Collective WA and MOORE CONTEMPORARY, Hobart gallery Despard Gallery, Adelaide gallery GAGPROJECTS, and Brisbane gallery Jan Murphy Gallery.
The Melbourne Art Foundation has also sought to make the fair available as a platform for new galleries, and 11 young galleries will be included on the docket this year including Melbourne galleries Five Walls, FUTURES, Haydens, LON Gallery, ReadingRoom and Void_Melbourne, Sydney galleries COMA, day01., N.Smith Gallery and Nasha Gallery, and Brisbane’s The Renshaws.
Since 2022, the fair has also included Indigenous Art Centres via the William Mora Indigenous Art Centre Program. This year will see the very best of First Nations art with Moa Arts from Mua in Mualgal Country/Moa Island, Munupi Arts & Crafts Association from the Pirlangimpi Community/Melville Island, Papunya Tjupi Arts from Papunya, and Wik & Kugu Arts Centre from Aurukun.
Alongside the gallery presentations, the fair will see several exhibitions. VIDEO will be an exhibition of moving-image art curated by Tamsin Hong, Exhibitions Curator of London’s Serpentine Gallery. BEYOND, curated by Senior Curator of the Australian Centre for Contemporary art Shelley McSpedden, will see four spaces within the fair transformed by experimental installations and spatial interventions. LIVE will be made up of performance pieces, including new commissions, and Project Rooms will see Melbourne’s Gertrude Contemporary and Sydney’s Firstdraft present performance and multimedia works.
2024’s edition of the fair will also include a work commissioned by the Melbourne Art Foundation, with Julie Rrap to produce a major sculptural piece to be unveiled at the fair. The work will then become part of the Art Gallery of Western Australia’s collection. Of the work, Rrap says that “SOMOS (Standing On My Own Shoulders), is a bronze life-size sculptural work that is a dynamic composition in which both casts of my body are caught in a moment of action as one figure appears to support the other on its shoulders. While SOMOS echoes the “heroic” tradition of bronze figurative sculpture, it subverts that history by representing an older female body traditionally rendered invisible”.
Finally, the fair’s program will include CONVERSATIONS, which will include a vast range of artist talks and debates.
This is merely the tip of the iceberg, with more announcements to come in January 2024. The fair will take place 22-25 February 2024, with tickets available from Tuesday 3 October.
This article was posted 4 October 2023.
Image: 2022 Melbourne Art Fair Vernissage. Photo: Marie-Luise Photographer. Courtesy: the Melbourne Art Fair.