In Nikki Lam’s the unshakable destiny_2101 (2021), a woman moves through a set suffused with the humid haze of a Wong Kar Wai film. She enters a long hallway with white walls to which silvery sacs are affixed. Only loosely inflated, their seams are puckered and their bodies soft as the woman moves between them, casting the thin beam of her green laser pointer around the space like a searchlight.
Lam is a filmmaker concerned with finding images for moments of cultural, social and political transition, for histories afflicted by colonial intervention and for self caught among this all. She is one of six artists under thirty-five who will be included in Primavera 2023: Young Australian Artists, the annual exhibition’s thirty-second iteration, showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney this spring.
The feeling of uncertainty that permeates the unshakable destiny_2101—of time, place and memories—perhaps sets the tone for the exhibition’s approach to its guiding idea of ‘the collective body’, selected by Ngāmotu New Plymouth-born, Sydney-based curator, Talia Smith. Each of the artists—Lam, Tiyan Baker, Christopher Bassi, Moorina Bonini, Sarah Poulgrain and Truc Truong—engages with the multiplicity and perilousness of the collective, investigating history, language, authority, protest and more. This year, as usual, Primavera promises to be a snapshot of the concerns Australia’s young people are reckoning with, as well as a showcase of its most promising creatives.
Primavera opens 9 September and will be on view until 4 February 2024.