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Dream Variations

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Installation View
Dream Variations
, 2023
Commissioned by Parallel
Image by Jeremy Weihrauch

Curated by Kelly Dezart-Smith, Dream Variations takes as its starting point Langston Hughes’s poem “Dream Variations” (1926):

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me—
That is my dream!’

Dezart-Smith translates Hughes's poem, written in the US as part of African-American liberation movements of the 1920s, within the context of contemporary Blak Australia. In Dream Variations, Dezart-Smith guides us through an intersectional bla(c)k poetics of freedom and its prohibition within the Murray Art Museum Albury collection. The exhibition includes rarely shown sculptures, paintings, and photographs from the collection alongside a new video commission, Green Pastures (2023), to hold a conversation about bla(c)k creativity and self-determination.

Green Pastures
, by emerging artists Olivia Oluwayemi Suleimon and Albury-based Naomi Impa Musemu, is an exercise in bla(c)k dreaming. It narrates Musemu's story of migration to Albury through her voice and artistic practice spanning hair and makeup. Part documentary, part portrait, the video, edited and directed by Suleimon, draws on the aesthetics and archives of bla(c)k creative film practices to document a local history. The exhibition also presents a new poem by Brian Obiri-Asare in response to Dream Variations.

Collection artists included in the exhibition: Allan Chawner, Brook Andrew, Cherine Fahd, Destiny Deacon, Russell Drysdale, Tracey Moffatt, Tommy McRae and Viva Jillian Gibb. The exhibition also presents artwork by Phil Murray.

About the Curator:
Kelly Dezart-Smith is a curator, creative producer, and writer living on Gadigal Country. They work across contemporary art, performance, visual culture and nightlife. They are a Parallel Curatorial Fellow and producer at the Sydney Opera House. They previously held a curatorial producer role at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia. They have contributed to Archer Magazine, SF Bay Guardian, and SFMOMA’s Open Space and co-edited 4U MAG. Their practice is dedicated to structural change and centring the stories and cultures of communities systematically marginalized to advance social justice.

Dream Variations is commissioned as part of the curatorial program Parallel Structures (2023-2024), led by Verónica Tello (UNSW Art & Design) and Salote Tawale (Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney) in collaboration with the Murray Art Museum Albury. The exhibition design for Parallel Structures is led by Ying-Lan Dann, RMIT Interior Design, in dialogue with Parallel and the Murray Art Museum Albury. Parallel Structures is the exhibition outcome of the Australian Research Council project Parallel. For more information, please visit https://parallelstructures.art. With thanks to the Parallel Advisory Network, Runway Journal, the Australian Research Council, Create NSW, Creative Australia, and the School of Art & Design, University of New South Wales, for their generous support.

Green Pastures, 2023

Dream Variations,
Murray Art Museum Albury, 2023
Image by Jeremy Weihrauch

Dream Variations

Installation view,
Murray Art Museum Albury, 2023
Image by Jeremy Weihrauch

Destiny Deacon,

Skid Row Models, 1997
Dream Variations,
Murray Art Museum Albury, 2023
Image Jeremy Weihrauch

Brian Oberi Asare

Poem,
Dream Variations,
Murray Art Museum Albury, 2023.
Image by Jeremy Weihrauch

Olivia Oluwayemi Suleimon & Naomi Impa Musemu,

Green Pastures, 2023,
Dream Variations,
Murray Art Museum Albury, 2023
Image Jeremy Weihrauch

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