UniSA’s Samstag Museum of Art on North Terrace is a work of art in itself. It’s our second largest public gallery, yet many South Australians are yet to discover this venue and its amazing contemporary art program. The current exhibition is a playful and thought provoking look at one of the world’s oldest games. New and intriguing artworks add a whole new dimension to the basic black versus white, as curator Sandra Bruce explains.
Sandra: There was an exhibition in 1944 that Marcel Duchamp was involved in and that started a tradition of artists creativity playing with this very traditional game which is all about war and opposing factions, so we decided to commission thirteen Australian artists to do exactly the same thing and we’ve come up with a wonderful result.
When we invited artists to be involved in the exhibition we were certainly encouraging them to stick with their practice so we have a variety of two dimensional bronzes so we do cover gamut of contemporary art.
Some works are also designed to be a social commentary. The bleached coral pieces of “Dead Sea” point to human impact on the oceans while “homeland Rule” shines a different light on the republic debate.
One side is traditional chess pieces so when you look at it you see kings, Queens, Rooks and Knights and the other side is indigenous animals which is obviously the Australian side.
And the artist Sebastian has placed the pieces to be seen in play. You’ll see that the Australian pieces are starting to gang up on the queen a bit. Leigh: There’s Aussie animals fighting “introduced” species a glacial game complete with polar bears.
And, on a checkerboard of coasters, a battle of beer bottles cleverly portrays England and her Allies facing off against the central powers of Europe in World War One.
Leigh: Look it doesn’t matter if you play chess or even understand the game this exhibition is fascinating and it’s well worth a look.