Artist bios

Vernon Ah Kee

Vernon Ah Kee was born in North Queensland and is of the Kuku Yalandji, Waanji, Yidindji and Gugu Yimithirr peoples. His conceptual art practice makes use of drawing, screen printing and video primarily to critique Australian popular culture. Many works treat text as visual practice, drawing attention to black/white dichotomies of Australian culture by refashioning stereotypical thought in to sharp poetic forms, and deflecting it back at the audience for urgent reconsideration. His video art reworked colonial photography and performance to tease out contemporary indigenous identity. Vernon completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Hons) and later a Doctorate of Visual Arts at the Queensland College of Art in Brisbane. His work has been exhibited widely, including at the National Indigenous Art Triennial: Culture Warriors, National Gallery of Art, Canberra (October, 2007) and blak insights: Contemporary Indigenous Art from the Queensland Art Gallery Collection, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2004). He lives in Brisbane and is represented by Milani Gallery.

Peter Alwast

Peter Alwast was born in Poland and came to Australia when he was seven. He trained as a painter in Brisbane at QUT, and upon graduation was awarded a Samstag Scholarship to complete an MFA at the Parson’s School of Design, New York. He has been the recipient of that institution’s Oscar Kolin Fellowship, as well as several arts grants. Alwast’s conceptual practice employs diverse media forms including film, video, computer graphics, painting, sculpture, architecture, and drawing. His installations tend to fold different ‘generations’ of images and footage through different objects and regimes of representation, and often theatrically invoke questions about many kinds of loose ‘institutions’: the hand, the spectator, new media, painting, public space, gallery space etc. In 2008 Peter won the inaugural and biennial Premier of Queensland’s National New Media Art Award. He has been shown in exhibitions in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, New York, Brooklyn and New Jersey, as well as in three solo exhibition and a public art commission for the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation Building at QUT. Peter is represented by Gallery Ballery Keldoulis, Sydney.

Stella Brennan

Stella Brennan is an Auckland-based artist, writer and curator. She is co-founder of Aotearoa Digital Arts (www.aotearoadigitalarts.org.nz), New Zealand’s only discussion list dedicated to New Media Art. Her work examines technology, obsolescence and utopianism. Recent projects include White Wall/Black Hole, shown at the 2006 Sydney Biennale, a video exploring the 1979 Erebus Disaster (when an Air New Zealand plane crashed into the Antarctic mountain) and Wet Social Sculpture, an installation featuring whale song, psychedelic film and a fully operational spa pool, which was nominated for the 2006 Walters Prize, New Zealand’s most prestigious art award.  Her work South Pacific premiered at the 2007 Auckland International Film Festival, and was included in the 2008 Liverpool Biennale. She is represented by Starkwhite, Auckland (www.starkwhite.co.nz), and lectures at the Auckland University of Technology.  Her website is at: www.stella.net.nz Fa’anana (collaborator, Pacific Washup)

Fez

Fez Fa’anana is a New Zealand-born, Brisbane-based dance artist of Samoan heritage. He was a member of the dance ensemble Polytoxic, founded in 2000 by Fez with Lisa Fa’alafi. Polytoxic created diverse performance works drawing from Polynesian, contemporary and street dance styles and physical theatre. All three members are professional dance artists who have performed in numerous contexts including independent dance and theater seasons, children’s performances, gallery openings, fashion launches, festivals and commercial film. Most recently Polytoxic has toured for the Queensland Art Gallery’s OzGold Exhibition. Fez works collaboratively with visual and performance artist Luke Roberts, performing at the MCA for the 2002 Sydney Biennale and at the Luke Roberts Studios, as well as performing for companies including KITE Theatre and Abigails Entertainment.

Merilyn Fairskye

Merilyn Fairskye is a Sydney-based artist whose work encompasses a broad range of media and methods from public artwork to video installations, films and photo-based works. She teaches in the Media Arts Studio of Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. Her work has been shown widely, including as part of exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, 24th Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival, Kassel, Germany; Arts Latina 07; Cologne Art Fair, Cologne, Germany; and in screenings at the International Film Festival Rotterdam; Sydney Film Festival; Videobrasil International Electronic Arts Festival; Oberhausen Short Film Festival; World Wide Video Festival, The Hague; WRO International Media Art Biennale, Wroclaw; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Museum of Sydney; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and Experimenta. She has been recognised through many awards and residencies including a Rockefeller Foundation residency at Bellagio, Italy and PS1 Museum, New York, and is represented in national and international public collections.

Brian Fuata (collaborator, Pacific Washup)

Brian Fuata is a New Zealand-born, Sydney-based Samoan performer, writer and theatre-maker. He was a performer and co-devisor of The Museum of Fetish-ized Identities (Performance Space, 2001), directed by the internationally recognized performance makers, Guillermo Gomez-Pena and Juan Ybarra, as well as The New Museum of Fetish-ized Identities (Performance Space, 2003). He wrote and performed the solo work Fa’fafine commissioned by Urban Theatre Projects at Performance Space for Pacific Wave 2001. He has created and performed short works in Unbecomings (2000 and 2001, co-produced by Performance Space, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and PACT Youth Theatre), which won the Mardi Gras Festival Award 2000 and Kiss My Fist (2002). Other credits include Letters about Objects Explaining Everything in Company B Belvoir’s B Sharp program (2000), and PACT’s Replicant Hotel (1999 and 2000, performer and co-devisor).

John Gillies

John Gillies is an Australian media artist whose interdisciplinary practice encompasses film, sound, installation and video, and often evolves from collaborations with performers from a variety of disciplines. A major theme of his art practice has the representation of the body through audio-visual effect; more recent work has disturbed narratives of Australian place using film and video. Recent video works include: The Mary Stuart Tapes, The De Quincey Tapes, Divide and Postscript. His works have been included in exhibitions and screenings at Ars Electronica; the Museum of Mordern Art, New York; Museo Nacional Centro de Art Reina Sophia, Madrid; Chisenhale Gallery, London; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; and the London, Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals. An Australian retrosopective John Gillies: Video Works 1982-2001 was presented at Performance Space, Sydney in 2004.

Rachael Rakena

Rakena was born in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand,1969. Her practice includes digital stills, video, installation, and performance, and considers ideas about identity, digital space, and water space.  She works primarily with video and often in collaboration with performers. Rakena teaches in the Maori Visual Arts programme, Massey University, has post graduate qualifications in both Maori Studies and Fine Arts, and has been lecturing for the past ten years. Her work has been shown widely in major national and international exhibitions. Recent exhibitions include Dateline: Contemporary Art from the Pacific, Neuer Berliner Kunstverien, Berlin, 2007; Telecom Prospect: New Art New Zealand, City Gallery Wellington, 2007; Zones of Contact; 2006 Biennale of Sydney at Museum of Contemporary Art; Container Culture in ZeroOne: A Global Festival of Art on the Edge, San Jose, California, 2006; HIGH TIDE: currents in contemporary Australasian art, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland, and Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania, 2006; Pasifika Styles, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge, UK, 2006-8; PLAY: Portraiture and Performance in Recent Video Art from Australia and NZ at Adam Art Gallery, Wellington and PICA, Perth.