This brittle light: Light Source commissions 2021-2021

This brittle light: Light Source commissions 2021-2021

Image: Nicholas Mangan, Limits to Growth - Part 3 (Letter to Rai) 2020 (still), HD sound black and white with colour, Duration 18:43, © the artist, Light Source commission, Buxton Contemporary, The University of Melbourne, 2020

Throughout the past twelve months of pandemic disruption, Buxton Contemporary commissioned an array of leading Australian artists, including Monash University's Dr Nicholas Mangan and Stuart Ringholt, to develop a series of new projects, under the title of Light Source commissions. Referencing art as a source of illumination the initiative was conceived to support the creation of new work or the further development of an existing landmark body of work.

The Light Source commissions series emerged from a challenging period of personal and social limitations and constraint. As such, each of these projects can been seen as an extension of the participants’ ongoing artistic pursuits and interests as well as an outcome of the time in which these works were conceived, a period underscored by human fragility, resilience and imagination.

Each of these ambitious projects has been presented digitally, online or remotely, and now have a further life exhibited together as a series of discrete projects in the gallery spaces across Buxton Contemporary.

The exhibition comprises six commissions, with projects spanning perform-at-home mail art, AI-powered digital media, video and installation. Mirroring the ubiquity of technology and the shifting and accelerated virtual role of museums, the featured projects explore and engage with local and global themes and issues, including humour, ritual and the role of art in society; how lived experience is mediated through the conventions of representation; corporate duplicity, neoliberalism and the climate crisis; humanity’s fraught relationship with nature; the opportunity to learn from diverse cultures, systems of knowledge and the continuing impacts of colonialism; and the complex and evolving dynamics of the global political economy.

A seventh commission by Destiny Deacon (KuKu Nation, Far North Queensland & Erub/Mer Peoples, Torres Strait) and her long-time collaborator Virginia Fraser was planned but was not possible due to the untimely passing of Virginia Fraser. Buxton Contemporary joins First Nations, feminist, arts, education, film and media communities in mourning this loss. An existing work by Virginia and Destiny has been included in the exhibition to mark their participation in this project and to recognise and honour their longstanding collaboration and enduring contribution to art, culture and social change.


  • Dr Nicholas Mangan
  • Stuart Ringholt
  • Destiny Deacon & Virginia Fraser
  • Taloi Havini
  • Laresa Kosloff
  • Grant Stevens
  • Hossein Valamanesh & Nassiem Valamanesh

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