Steven Rhall is a post-conceptual artist operating from a First Nation, white-passing, cis male, positionality. Rhall’s interdisciplinary practice responds to the intersectionality of First Nation art practice and the Western art canon. He interrogates modes of representation, classification and hierarchy using installation, performance, process lead methodologies, ‘curatorial’ projects, sculpture, and via public and private interventions.
Taungurung Story (Steven Rhall Quits Art) is a multi-faceted art installation by contemporary artist Steven Rhall presented within the ‘Old Begg Schoolhouse’. It is created in response to the context of his Taungurung heritage and potential for connection to Taungurung Country on which the Kyneton Contemporary Art Triennial is held. This unique temporal, cultural and geographic coincidence merges with Rhall’s broader research around tensions between ‘Aboriginal Art’ and as positioned otherwise, First Nation cultural practices, in turn, creating a meta-narrative feedback loop utilising biography, archive and performance.
To help frame my project for KCAT, it feels useful to enter this with a brief discussion on the act of framing an art practice with consideration as to the constituents often used as part of this contextualisation.
When initiated by those external to the art practice, materiality seems to foreground a contextualisation – the material arguably holding the ‘entry-point mantle’ of dialogue between the artist and the public in contextualisation of the art practice. Otherwise, the mode de rigueur of the artist themselves is the 'artist statement,' informing the public about our own practice. In the artist statement, how the material forms part of their practice is common contextualising dialogue. Aa artist statements can be any length, including with unbound levels of complexity, the artist statement is often made up of numerous other constituents to help frame a practice. To generalise, we commonly find materials, methods and ideas as common contextual markers. Materials, methods and ideas can also be thought of the what, how and why’s of the artist’s practice.
My practice has a curiosity about how, as artists and institutions, we frame both our own and the practice of others. The practice of others also relates to groups such as First Nations people or any other generalisation you could think of. I’m particularly interested in the various motivations, obligations and any other factor that contribute to the what, how and why of an art practice.
Exploring these questions, as part of my own practice, can be considered the ‘what’ of that practice… So the ‘what’ in my case is a question, or a curiosity which, depending on the context, relates in particular ways to how’s and why. My response to KCAT sees my own practice forming the ‘material’ of the work and also, in relation to what I see as the existing structures and frameworks, anchored by Kyenton, at hand.
It could be said my ‘what’, as part of KCAT, relates to my Taungurung heritage and ideas of connection to ‘place’ but not necessarily tied to the material. I’m otherwise “holding the circle” of what I see as a circular relationship between constituents borne of my involvement with KCAT and also, the opportunity to play with the how’s and why’s possible in such a relationship. My project also considers the story (or narrative) as both the material within an art practice, its presentation and, as found within colonial undertakings such as ‘settlement’ and its ongoing perpetuation.