At PICA we recognise that we are situated within the unceded lands of the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation. We pay our respects and offer our gratitude to Elders past and present, and to those emerging leaders in the community. We acknowledge all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the importance of their care and continued connection to culture, community and Country.

Always was, always will be.

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Looking Up

Looking Up

Looking Up is an outdoor projection series featuring works by several artists who all have a relationship with Western Australia. Featuring works from 1997 to 2023, the program presents diverse perspectives linked by their exploration of social and cultural ties to place, from sites as diverse as the Pilbara, East Kimberley, the Wheatbelt, Perth, Thailand and Germany.   

Looking Up celebrates the generosity and endeavour of these artists as they envision the world and their place within it. Many of these works arise out of painful, complex or disappearing histories that are particular to their place; our place. To suggest that things are ‘looking up’ is to envisage a positive change, a turn for the better. As we look up at the projected works on the wall of the State Library building, we find the possibility of hope in acts of truth-telling and remembering. 

Looking Up is accompanied by the work Surveilling a Crime Scene (2021-23) by WA artist Alana Hunt. This work examines the materialisation of non-indigenous life on Miriwoong Country and proposes colonisation not as history but as a continuous and present violence, one that is deceptively ordinary. 

Nathan Beard
Peggy Madij Griffiths
Tanya Lee 
Pilar Mata Dupont 
Brad Rimmer
Michele Theunissen 
Curtis Taylor
Alana Hunt  

Film Descriptions

Nathan Beard – A Remembrance

A Remembrance (2019) documents a trip taken by Nathan Beard with his mother to her former home province of Pak Chong, Thailand. Over the course of a day, they visited sites relevant to the life she led there with her first husband Sompong, a relationship tragically cut short by his murder in 1973. 

‘The film traces an attempt to contextualise this unknown chapter of my mother’s life in her own words; tacitly acknowledging that were it not for this tragedy, then my mother wouldn’t have eventually met my father and started her new life in Australia.’  – Nathan Beard

Peggy Madij Griffiths – Woolangem Balaj Gida

Woolangem Balaj Gida (At First Sight) (2021) is an animation spoken in Miriwoong with both English and Miriwoong subtitles. Griffiths’ works on paper form a backdrop to a narrative that tells the story of the first time Griffiths’ mother saw a gadiya (white man) on her Country. Griffiths depicts dreaming and hunting sites and draws attention to the troubling histories Griffiths and her family endured.   

‘…people come to my Country, and it is beautiful, but they do not know what happened here’ – Peggy Madij Griffiths  

Tanya Lee – Curtilage Cleveland Street, Floreat & Mosman Park

Curtilage Cleveland Street, Floreat & Mosman Park (2016) both transgress and maintain physical and intimate boundaries between people. A pole stretched out of a window reaches into the home of a neighbour, linking two residences, as they awkwardly perform intimate acts for each other – painstakingly brushing each other’s hair, and teeth at an absurd distance. Drawing its name from disciplines of urban planning, curtilage is a term that describes the space between a building and its boundary. The performers featured in the series of actions are ‘real’ neighbours, recruited by the artist through door-knocking and other strategies. Reaching across the boundary between their residences, the works bring authentic assumptions and histories to these unfolding actions between neighbours.

Pilar Mata Dupont – Mountain

Mountain (2015) by Pilar Mata Dupont investigates Sigmund Freud’s connection to the neighbouring villages of Berchtesgaden and Schönau am Königssee in Bavaria, Germany; his seminal work ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ was written in Schönau in 1989, whilst living in a rented house. The mountains in this region that overlook these villages, in particular the Obersalzberg, are infamous as the base for the National Socialists from the 1920’s. 

With dialogue drawn from the writing of Freud, the film’s sonorous voice-over refers to the unconscious, and to tyranny and oppression. Linked to the imagery that moves through and under the shadow of the mountain, this work creates a new account for this site- one that is speculative, dreamlike, and always relevant.

Brad Rimmer – Nowhere Near

Brad Rimmer’s Nowhere Near (2023) series reflects on a fleeting, bygone era in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia, and the remnants of the region’s languishing town halls. Once central to a farming community’s social life, they now lie destitute, maybe repurposed, decaying or even demolished. They are a poignant reflection on the past, what we leave behind and what remains. For Looking Up, a selection of 40 still images from the Nowhere Near photographic series is compiled into a four-minute slideshow. 

Michele Theunissen – Elastic Boundaries

The fixed camera of Michele Theunissen’s Elastic Boundaries (1997) shows a young girl tumbling in and out of frame. The slow-motion movement of her body through the frame is mesmerising, boundless as she moves as if through time and space.  

Elastic boundaries was shot on a specialised slow motion 16mm camera, showing my daughter tumbling in the air as she bounces on a trampoline.’ Michele Theunissen.  

Exhibited as a multi-channel film installation at Artspace Sydney, Looking Up presents a four-minute single-channel version of this multi-part work.  

Curtis Taylor – Battles with Alcoholism

Battle with Alcoholism (2021) is part of a body of work Curtis Taylor made in response to the site of Goolagatup. The artist references the significance of Goolagatup to Aboriginal people, alongside the history of Heathcote Hospital. The hospital was built in 1929 to treat people who experienced mental disorders and was operational on the site of Goolagatup until 1994.  

Emotive and personal, this work considers the artist’s own struggles alongside those of others, whether with addiction or other pains, including those who once left country to travel to Heathcote to receive treatment. The artist wraps himself in bandages, indicating pain and struggle, but also references treatment, the possibility of healing, of ‘getting better’.   

Alana Hunt – Surveilling A Crime Scene 

Alana Hunt’s Surveilling A Crime Scene (2021–23) examines the materialisation of non-indigenous life on Miriwoong Country, seen through the town of Kununurra and its surrounds, and the violence that lies within aspirations for economic growth, leisure, and a home, all on someone else’s land. Filmed on Super 8mm film and framed like a postcard, the soundtrack has a jaunty sensibility that works alongside the film’s persistent recognition of colonisation not as a past historical moment, but as an ongoing and present violence. 

About the Artist

Nathan Beard is an artist from Boorloo/Perth who is currently based in Naarm (Melbourne). His work draws from his Australian-Thai heritage to unpack the porous and precarious influences of culture, memory, and authenticity in the shaping of identity. Beard adapts intimate exchanges with family and archives alongside broader signifiers of ‘Thainess’ to generate idiosyncratic cultural slippages across a range of media. By focusing on elements which may be considered kitsch or exotic from one perspective, or mundane and everyday from another, Beard’s work offers a uniquely playful and personal articulation of the complexities surrounding diasporic identity. 

Peggy Griffiths’ art practice reflects a strong commitment to her Miriwoong culture. Her works document the traditional country of her mother and grandfather and her recent works capture the movement of wind and light across the spinifex country which for the artist is evidence that the spirit of culture is alive. Her elegant imagery resonates with references to cultural performance, of which she is a renowned dancer. The winding of waterways is the sinuous and graceful body movements of a dancer; the outlining dotting reflects a performer’s body painting.  ’What is important to me is to carry on my grandfather and my mother’s stories. It is important to show my younger generation what I have learned about our stories and our culture. When I paint my mind has an idea and I do that to show people how I see things.’

Tanya Lee is a female Western Australian artist originally from a remote wheat belt town and now based in Broome. Lee works across sculpture, performance, and drawing. Her practice looks at everyday tasks to create humorous, absurd, and even futile narratives that subvert the protocols and politics of everyday social environments. Her work has been shown in galleries across Australia including the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) in Melbourne. Her recent performance work Landing has toured nationally and been presented at Dark Mofo Hobart, the Festival of Live Art in Melbourne and Bleach* Festival on the Gold Coast. 

Pilar Mata Dupont’s work aids her research into the malleability and fallibility of structures of history, gender, and memory, and often combines seemingly disparate references to create new, and often dreamlike, visual worlds where these themes can be investigated. Using highly theatrical and cinematic methods, she reimagines histories and classical texts, creating alternative readings that question the conditions of the construction of dominant narratives that shape Western society. Her Argentinian background, and upbringing in Australia, Argentina, and Brunei Darussalam all settler states and/or former colonies or protectorates feed into her practice through the themes she explores.  

Brad Rimmer is a photographer who works on long-term projects of portraiture, landscape, and social documentation. He seeks to uncover the human element within often alienating everyday environments. Working within the fine line of art and documentary photography, Rimmer uses his artistic practice to probe at the essence of rural Australia and the emotional impact of the natural landscape upon individual psyches. Silence (2009), Nature Boy (2019) and Nowhere Near (2023) photographic series and subsequent photobooks (published by T&G Publishing Italy) are set in the Western Australian Wheatbelt where he grew up and are personal visual narratives derived from the cultural idiosyncrasies of place, identity, belonging and memory. 

Michele Theunissen is a South Africanborn West Australian visual artist. Her practice shifts between the different media of film and painting: film being the vehicle most suited to political commentary and experimentation. Her early interest in skin influenced both her painting expressing the way that elements of nature write on our bodies; and her films narrating stories of race, family, and attachment to place. With the exploration of skin and surface, her paintings become more abstract, driven by an interest in the pulses and invisible forces that underpin form. 

Curtis Taylor is a Martu artist who grew up between Bidyadanga in the Kimberley Region, and Parnngurr in the East Pilbara. Currently based in Perth, over the past decade Taylor has developed a distinct practice that spans sculptural installation, painting, and filmmaking. Through these mediums he presents urgent narratives that speak across generations, exploring ideas about identity, language, cultural practice, and responsibility. Taylor grew up learning the jukurrpa (stories) of his Elders being spoken, sung, and painted. Early on Taylor chose a different medium to begin telling his own jukurrpa. Drawn to the limitless potential of film and digital media to be distributed, shared, and stored for future generations, he started writing and directing short films that presented narratives that spoke directly of Martu knowledge and experience. 

Alana Hunt lives and works between Miriwoong Country, East Kimberley, Western Australia and Gadigal Country, Sydney. She is an artist and writer who examines the violence that results from the fragility of nations and the aspirations and failures of colonial dreams, both within the area she lives and in the context of her longstanding engagement with South Asia. Her distributed art practice moves between publishing, exhibition making and public intervention. She communicates with a broad network of collaborators and peers in the development of her interdisciplinary works and regularly contributes to social commentary through podcasts, panels, and webinars. 


Looking Up and Surveilling A Crime Scene presented by PICA, The Rechabite, State Library Western Australia and Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries’ CBD Revitalisation Fund.

With thanks to Waringari Arts, Art Collective WA, sweet pea gallery and Moore Contemporary.

Alana Hunt, Surveilling a Crime Scene, still, 2023, single-channel video with audio, 21:58mins, image courtesy the artist