Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Speech at opening of 'artconneXions' and 'Grots to the Show' photo media exhibitions, Goethe Institut in Australia, Melbourne.

Download PDFDownload PDF

Senator the Hon Helen Coonan

Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts

Goethe Institut in Australia

Opening of ‘artconneXions’ and ‘Grots to the Show’ Photo media exhibitions


Thursday 24 November 2005

Thank you Suzanne [Davies, Director and Chief Curator, RMIT Gallery]

His Excellency Mr Martin Lutz [Ambassador to Australia - Federal Republic of Germany] and Mrs Gerda Lutz

Dr Peter Bumke [Regional Director, Goethe-Institut Jakarta]

Renate Elsaesser [Director of Goethe Institut, Melbourne]

Professor Denis Gibson [Chancellor, RMIT University]

Lady Penelope Street

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

Good evening, it is wonderful to be here with you in the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Gallery.

I would like to welcome all our overseas artists and contributors to the exhibitions and make special thanks to the Goethe-Institut in assisting the RMIT Gallery in putting on the exhibitions.

The Goethe-Institut organises a wide range of cultural events in cooperation with local partners. These events are important as they not only reflect current trends in Germany but importantly also foster the development of inter-cultural exchange.

And with Germany achieving an important milestone this week with Ms Angela Merkel becoming Germany’s first woman chancellor I look forward to the continued development of the intercultural exchange.

As everyone here will be aware, our mighty Socceroos are heading to Germany next year for the World Cup, so call me a little biased, but at no time will this development of cultural exchange be more important.


This artconneXion exhibition is a great example of what can be achieved with a far reaching vision.

That vision was of course to service the increasing demands for networking and interaction between curators and artists in our region and in Germany.

The exhibition has come to fruition only 18 months after its conception and with what are quite obviously substantial artistic outcomes.

It is a credit to everyone involved and to those of us who value the importance of the arts.

Tonight I have the pleasure to be opening not one but two exhibitions - the artconneXions exhibition and ‘Grots to the Show’ - a video of a series of animated short stories.


ArtconneXions is an exhibition but is also a program organised by the Goethe Institut which has supported the development of collaborative artistic working

relationships and the creation of exciting new works using photo media as the central medium.

This exhibition incorporates all art forms that use photographic techniques at some stage. Whether it be in collages, graphic works or video-stills.

Local Australian artists have collaborated with other artists from the region including from Singapore, Hanoi, Jakarta, Bangkok, Auckland, Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Germany to create these works.

In these nine cities a local curator and a local artist has hosted one German artist and one guest artist from another country for a month. Over the course of the month each of the artists has created the photo media artwork that you see here this evening.

The process of developing insights and understandings, of negotiating the cultural, historic and resource differences of a tangible project is, I am sure, a great challenge.

But ultimately very rewarding as you can see from this exhibition.


And the artconneXion exhibition is well complemented by Natalie [Woodlock’s] Grots to the Show.

Natalie has created wonderfully imaginative works by using animated cloth dolls in various settings, to produce a series of short videos about her childhood in North Queensland.

When I first saw these scenes I was struck with the possibility that some of the rag dolls might actually be about to spring to life.

This response is certainly assisted by the central medium used in these two exhibitions - photo media.


As an art form, photography and photo media has become particularly

expressive of cultural and social fabric in a variety of contexts.

Today, documentary photography makes a significant contribution to the international modern art scene and I know it represents an important component in exhibitions presented by the Goethe-Institut.

The camera’s exploration of a sense of place can be integral in telling a story, to illuminate particular surroundings or to visually investigate new discoveries.

As Lewis Carroll said in Alice In Wonderland

“what good is a book", said Alice,

"without pictures and conversation"


The success of the exhibitions is built on both the vision and the financial support of the Goethe-Institut and the relevant artists’ ability to interpret their subjects using various visual media forms and to reflect cultural influences in their works.

The international collaboration which has culminated with this exhibition is very gratifying indeed.

I am sure many of the artists involved in this program have developed long lasting relationships that will enhance not only their artistic references and the bonds between their country, but may also lead to other exciting collaborations in the future.

So now, without further ado, I would like to declare these two wonderful exhibitions open.

I hope everyone enjoys them as much as I have.

Thank you.

Page ID: 34277 Last Modified: 11/28/2005