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Justene Williams: The Curtain Breathed Deeply

2 February – 2 April 2015

The Curtain Breathed Deeply presents a series of newly commissioned video installations by Sydney artist Justene Williams. In this rich environment of pattern, colour and texture, curtains and screens act as thresholds between the energy of one realm and another.

For Williams, the curtain and, more broadly, the exhibition pay tribute to her father - to his life and work, as well as the hospital curtain that marked the final stage of his life when he passed away from mesothelioma.The Curtain Breathed Deeply is at once poignant and celebratory, acknowledging the life of a loved one whilst also taking pleasure in the movement of living, breathing, sexual beings.

Williams draws from many sources, for instance her personal experience of dance classes and time spent in her father's wrecking yard; early twentieth century avante garde art and theatre; and contemporary pop culture. Found objects that draw upon the Australian suburban vernacular of the garage, inflatable pool and barbeque are amongst the many materials transformed to create a series of interconnected environments that together ‘breathe' like a vast and mysterious body.

Coming to MUMA from Artspace in Sydney, The Curtain Breathed Deeply has been developed through a Catalyst: Katherine Hannay Visual Arts Commission and will be accompanied by a major new monograph.

Justene Williams lives and works in Sydney. She has exhibited widely throughout Australia and internationally. Selected solo exhibitions include: The Curtain Breathed Deeply, Artspace, Sydney, 2014; Handbag Hammer Meditation, La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse, Montréal, 2013; Static Ballet, Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney, 2013; She came over signing like a drainpipe shaking spoon infused mixers, a public work for Christchurch Art Gallery, 2013; Turnstile Heaped on Pour Down, St Paul St Gallery, AUT Auckland University, 2012; and BIGHEAD GARBAGEFACE GUARDS GHOST DERR SONATA, Contemporary Project Space, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2009. Selected group exhibitions include: Playtime, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2013; We used to talk about love, Balnaves Contemporary: Photomedia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2013; Contemporary Australia: Women, Gallery of Modern Art | Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2012; New11, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2011; Short Sharp Shocks,Barbican, London, 2011; and Adelaide Biennial, Art Gallery of South Australia, 2010. Her work is held in numerous collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. She is represented by Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney.

Please be aware that this exhibition contains nudity.

Public Programs
Justene Williams: Hypnofantasy Workshop
4 March

Justene Williams Artforum Lecture
4 March

Appreciation vs. Appropriation: Is Everything up for Grabs in Fashion?
28 February

Curtain Couture: Children's Fashion Workshop with Justene Williams
21 February

Image: Justene Williams, The Curtain Breathed Deeply, installation view: Monash University Museum of Art, 2015. Photo: Zan Wimberley

Installation Views