t-o-n-g-Le-N (7 conversazioni with les estrellas) 2000
Mixed media installation with 1973 Volkswagen Tourer L
Installation view, Artspace Visual Arts Centre, Sydney
© Domenico de Clario courtesy John Buckley Gallery, Melbourne
The 2009 Clemenger Contemporary Art Award is the final exhibition in the series of triennials established by Joan and Peter Clemenger through a generous gift to the NGV in 1991. Spanning nearly twenty years, the Award has focused the public’s attention on the achievements of a diverse range of distinguished Australian artists. Presented in 1993, 1996, 1999 (in collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art at Heide during the NGV’s redevelopment), 2003 and 2006, the Clemenger Contemporary Art Award has always been conceived as an invitational event. The Clemenger Contemporary Art Award is national in scope, including participants across generations, and has forged dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists. A $50,000 award accompanies the exhibition; and each participating artist is provided with an honorarium to supplement expenses associated with creating new work. Providing this support in the research and development stage enables artists to benefit by pushing work in unforeseen directions.
The history of the Clemenger Contemporary Art Award documents the evolution of Australian contemporary art over a critical period of time. Looking back over the course of the Award since 1993, one can ascertain, for example, an increasing engagement by artists with new media and video installation. The Award has managed adroitly to avoid the problems inherent when exhibitions are organised according to rigid markers of identity and categorisation, whether they be ethnic, media-specific or otherwise. Openness to the plurality of the Australian contemporary art field has, therefore, always distinguished the Award, and in its final iteration in 2009, the Clemenger Award upholds this exploration of artistic diversity in all of its myriad forms.