Scientia Professor Dennis Del Favero is one of 21 respected Australian artists selected to The Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize, which provides the opportunity for finalists to nominate an emerging contemporary artist to participate in the exhibition.
Master of Fine Arts candidate Tanya Dyhin was nominated by Professor Del Favero because of “her poetic and powerful approach to contemporary issues”.
“Tanya’s work engages with post-Cold War culture and society, which is rarely tackled in the Australian arts scene,” Del Favero said.
Dyhin said she was “absolutely delighted” to be nominated by Del Favero, whose work has been exhibited in major international museums and galleries, the Sydney Film Festival, Biennale of Architecture Rotterdam and the Biennial of Seville.
“It’s a great honour to be nominated by such an accomplished artist – I feel like I need to pinch myself,” she said.
Dyhin’s work Rebirth explores the feminine aspects of her Ukrainian culture and its impact on her identity.
Rebirth is a 162cm female skeleton covered in synthetic flowers similar to those used in the vinok – a floral wreath integral to the traditional Ukrainian costume.
“I used different coloured flowers to bring out the contours of the bones – I wanted to use a skeleton, such an obvious symbol of death, and transform it into something beautiful,” said Dyhin. “I’m hoping viewers will be reminded of themselves and their own mortality.”
Dyhin said the violent riots in the Ukrainian capital Kiev in November 2013 helped inform Rebirth.
“It struck a chord with me, people banding together so powerfully to drive social change – at the same time my Ukrainian grandfather died so it was a very emotional period.”
Del Favero’s Tampa, 2001 also deals with politics, memory and trauma.
The computer graphic installation explores the Howard Government's refusal to permit the Norwegian freighter MV Tampa, carrying 438 rescued refugees, to enter Australian waters in 2001.
The four-minute installation, which combines an original music score with archival audio from the battlefields of Afghanistan, gives a birds-eye view of a violent ocean through a circular, porthole projection.
“I’m trying to give viewers a sense of what the refugees would have experienced without being didactic or dogmatic,” said Del Favero, who said the installation is emblematic of the culture of fear Australians are now living in.
“People fleeing persecution are assumed to be guilty until proven innocent. My hope is to change the conversation from questions of legitimate border entry to questions of hospitality.”
UNSW Art & Design alumni Shaun Gladwell, Claire Healy and Sean Cordiero joined the strong contingent of Redlands finalists, along with 2014 Archibald Prize winner and Art & Design student Fiona Lowry.
The Redlands Prize runs from 26 March–23 May at the National Art School in Darlinghurst, with all works available for purchase except the two winning works.