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News - 14th of March 2024

PICA Presents its 2024 Bunuru Season Program

PICA Presents its 2024 Bunuru Season Program

The Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts launches its Season 1, Bunuru program in association with Perth Festival, featuring the trailblazing Joan Jonas (US); celebrated interdisciplinary artist A.K. Burns (US); and world-exhibited Naarm/Melbourne-based Helen Johnson (AUS) as they celebrate this year’s overarching festival theme ngaangk – the sun, star and Noongar term for mother – from Friday 9 February-Sunday 31 March 2024.
In a program fitting for the home of contemporary art in Western Australia, PICA has simultaneously responded to the Perth Cultural Centre redevelopment with unique creativity and will welcome visitors with a bold reinterpretation of its iconic heritage site, and are thrilled to present a major new commission Yandilup, 2024 by Boorloo-based mural and public artist, J.D. Penangke (WA). 
Acknowledging Whadjuk Noongar boodjar (country) and putting culture at the forefront, J.D.’s colourful new mural sits at the entrance of the building, and welcomes visitors into the new space, while commissioned works from Australian artists Agatha Gothe-Snape (NSW) and Diana Baker Smith’s (NSW) transform the gallery space inside. 
In a coup for PICA and WA, Sun Signals is the first exhibition in Australia devoted to the work of iconic American video and performance artist, Joan Jonas. Bringing together various disciplines – ranging from performance, video, drawing and installation – the New York artist’s boundary-crossing approach has had a profound impact on generations of artists. Sun Signals presents a selection of early single-channel films from 1968–1976 that focus on Jonas’s early productions and explorations of time, space and self-representation. 
The opening days of the exhibition coincide with several performances of Jonas’s iconic 1969 performance work, Mirror Piece I & II (1969-60/2024) which will be performed by 15 local artists under the direction of Jonas and her Movement Director, Nefeli Skarmea. Joan Jonas will be the subject of a major career survey exhibition at MoMA in New York after her exhibition at PICA.
Celebrated Naarm (Melbourne)-based artist Helen Johnson is well known for her large-scale, figurative works that wrestle with Australia’s colonial histories, more recently Johnson has explored ideas around women and motherhood. Follower, Leader is Johnson’s first exhibition in WA and brings together a group of paintings and prints created while training as an art therapist, a move that has seen a radical reorientation of her practice away from the archive towards a focus on metaphysical conceptions of bodies. Shaped by her experiences of motherhood alongside therapeutic conceptions of care and connection, Follower, Leader resonates with the maternal principles of ngaangk – of creation, beginnings and re-beginnings.
American interdisciplinary artist A.K. Burns’ Untitled (eclipse) is a silent film of a total solar eclipse, filmed in Nebraska in 2017 – with shots of the gradually eclipsing sun superimposed on views of the sweeping, bleached desert landscape. Capturing this natural phenomenon, Burns worked with 16mm film (as opposed to digital video), directly recording traces of sunlight onto its photosensitive surface. As the minutes pass, our senses become aware of the passage of time and everything being in constant flux. 

With the Perth Cultural Centre redevelopment happening throughout 2024, PICA is closing its original James Street entrance and relocating its foyer to the western side of the building, temporarily moving out its black box Performance Space and opening up its windows to let the space be experienced in sunlight, something that hasn’t been experienced by visitors to the building since the early 1990s.
First Nations art will be front and centre at PICA’s new entrance, with J.D. Penangke’s new work Yandilup, 2024 – the Noongar name of the area PICA is located. This major new outdoor mural offers a colourful and meaningful landmark for visitors to PICA and reflects on the importance of Aboriginal culture, country and connection. Yandilup joins a string of murals and public art across Boorloo that J.D. has created over the last few years. A contemporary practioner of traditional culture, she is passionate about making a change through art and uses her practice to celebrate the millennia long connection Aboriginal people have to Country. J.D. Penangke is Jade Dolman’s pseudonym – made from her initials and Penangke, her skin name which was inherited from her father’s line. 
The new internal foyer, PICA’s temporary threshold throughout the Perth Cultural Centre works, will be inaugurated by a major new commission by one of Australia’s most experimental artists Agatha Gothe-Snape. Previously exhibiting at PICA in 2019 with Trying to Find Comfort in an Uncomfortable Chair, Gothe-Snape’s multi-faceted practice seeks to distil the weight of PICA’s history into the volume of its new foyer space – a welcoming space of function and relation – creating a distinct environment of colour, form and hospitality. Gothe-Snape’s artistic commission is funded by the Ungar Family Foundation.
Also unveiled as part of PICA’s transformation is Gadigal (Sydney)-based artist Diana Baker Smith’s, new site-specific work Falling Towards Another (A Score for the Void) – PICA’s second iteration of the Judy Wheeler Commission, made possible by the generosity of the Simpson Family – on display until January 2025. Featuring a text-based score and live performance with local Perth dancers, this work has been created specifically for PICA’s mezzanine level above PICA’s Central Gallery space. Baker Smith works across performance, moving image and installation to explore the relationship between art history and its institutions through a feminist lens. 
A site of creation, connection and conversation, PICA continues be at the forefront of artist development and presentation in Western Australia.
‘We’re super excited about 2024 at PICA,’ says PICA’s CEO/Director Hannah Mathews. “We are reimagining our building – from the outside-in – inviting artists and audiences to transform their engagement with art and consider the local history of the site itself.

‘Our opening program starts with First Nations front and centre, with J.D. Penangke’s
 powerful mural landmarking PICA’s new entrance, and continues inside with premiere exhibitions by American icon Joan Jonas, astounding new paintings from Helen Johnson and a transformative site-specific commission from one of Australia’s smartest artists, Agatha Gothe-Snape.

‘Our Bunuru season spans a range of disciplines, origins, generations and stories, setting the bar high for 2024.’

Join us to celebrate PICA’s first exhibitions for 2024 with a day of performances and talks on Saturday 10 February. Detailed information below.

Media Contact

Tiki Menegola | | +61 467 227 822


Season 1: Bunuru
Presented in association with Perth Festival
Opening Thursday 8 February 
Exhibition dates: 9 February-31 March 2024

Public Programs

Saturday 10 February 2024

10am: Joan Jonas Mirror Piece I & II – this restaging of the iconic American performance and video artist’s work explores gender hierarchies, the power of the gaze, and notions of perception and representation. 
11am: Diana Baker Smith, the recipient of the 2024 Judy Wheeler Commission at PICA will present a performance connected to her work Falling Towards Another (A Score for the Void). This performance invites audiences to consider the history of the PICA building as a space for art, education and incubation. 
11:30am: Helen Johnson in conversation with arts therapist and creative practitioner Cara Flame about Johnson’s exhibition Follower, Leader.
12pm: Diana Baker Smith in conversation with PICA Curator Sarah Wall. 
3pm: Agatha Gothe-Snape in conversation with PICA CEO Hannah Mathews
4pm: Joan Jonas’ Mirror Piece I & II – second performance. Followed by an in-conversation between PICA CEO Hannah Mathews and movement director Nefeli Skarmea.