For the last few years the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art’s popular monthly lecture series has focused on different aspects of cities and architecture. This year, under the banner of Uncommon Knowledge, the talks explore some unpredictable directions.

The Uncommon Knowledge series promises a trans-generational insight into the inner lives and thinking of artists. If that sounds dry, know this – the line-up features some of Australia’s most interesting artists discussing anything from art theft to digital communities, Indigenous health to UFOs. Oh, and there’s cocktails – the Melbourne Gin Company and Starward Whisky are on hand to concoct drinks to accompany the intellectual chatter.

The hour-long artist lectures run monthly on Monday nights at 6pm. The series kicked off last month with Bill Henson, one of Australia’s most revered artists, discussing the human form and the challenges for its representation in art. Uncommon Knowledge runs until November – here’s our guide to what’s on.


Peter Waples-Crowe, Black Magic series 2017–18, mixed media on canvas, 30 x 30 cm (each). Courtesy the artist.

Peter Waples-Crowe on queer sexuality and community health
This talk promises to touch on areas rarely discussed in conjunction with Indigenous identity. Bringing together his work with community health organisations and identity as a queer first nations man, Peter Waples-Crowe will draw on his work with community health organisations VACCHO (Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation) and The Torch, which brings art practices to incarcerated Indigenous people. It’s part of the battle against the erasure and loss of Aboriginal culture.

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Peter Waples-Crowe speaks at ACCA on July 16. Book tickets.

Joel Stern on eavesdropping
Eavesdropping a new frontier in this post-Snowden world. It’s everywhere, through smart-phones, smart fridges and more. Is it malicious, viable or productive? Joel Stern is co-director of sound-art organisation Liquid Architecture, and knows a thing or two about listening.

Stern will talk about his interest in sound in all its forms, and how frontiers in technology and the law change the way we think about privacy and listening.

Joel Stern speaks at ACCA on August 13. Book tickets.

Gabrielle de Vietri on activism in art and the stolen Picasso
In 1986, a group calling themselves the Australian Cultural Terrorists stole Picasso’s Weeping Woman from the wall of the NGV. It wasn’t a heist – they did it to protest the state of arts funding and the theft gained international attention.

The theft is a leaping off point for a talk about protest and disobedience as an artistic act, by Melbourne artist Gabrielle de Vietri. No stranger to protest herself, de Vietri led the boycott of the 2014 Sydney Biennale over its links to security company Transfield, who ran the camps on Manus and Nauru.

Gabrielle de Vietri speaks at ACCA on September 10. Book tickets.

Eugenia Lim on Feeling Territorial
Much has changed in the 58 years since Robin Boyd wrote The Australian Ugliness, a seminal text on architecture and the Australian identity. Eugenia Lim is a founding editor of Assemble Papers and her art practice, including video, performance and installation, has frequently addressed architecture too. In this talk Lim will look back on Boyd’s work with a critical eye and ask: how has our relationship with the built world changed as the fabric of our society has shifted and evolved?

Eugenia Lim speaks at ACCA on October 15. Book tickets.

Larissa Hjorth on the lives, deaths and afterlives in and of social media
Social media is everywhere, but we still know little about its cultural impact and long-term effects. Larissa Hjorth is in a good position to understand it. She’s an artist, academic and digital ethnographer who has been researching digital and gaming cultures since 2000.

In that time, platforms have risen and fallen, entire subcultures have flourished, and the way we interact online has changed immeasurably. But this isn’t a history lesson. Hjorth’s recent book, Haunting Hands talks about social media and mourning and loss. Her talk will provide a new perspective on a tool you use every day.

Larissa Hjorth speaks at ACCA on November 19. Book tickets.

Past Events

Ronnie van Hout on UFOs and amateurism
New Zealand-born artist Ronnie van Hout defies easy description, but the phrase “slapstick existentialist” ought to give you an idea. His often controversial work manifests as photography and sculpture, film and painting, all with a sharp, grotesque wit. No matter what his medium, he maintains a DIY approach and seems disinterested in mastering technique.

Then of course there’s his lifelong fascination with UFOs and conspiracy theories. Expect an amusing, absurd, existential and profound discussion on the nature of knowledge.

Ronnie van Hout speaks at ACCA on May 21. Book tickets.

Fiona Hall on global politics, Brexit and the EU
Australian painter, sculptor and photographer Fiona Hall recently debuted a new work at Chaumont-sur-Loire in the well-known French region of fortresses and castles, the Loire Valley. She placed 28 beehives among tall grass in the military-camouflage colours of the 28 countries of the European Union – a comment on the Union’s division and disunity.

At ACCA, Hall will talk about national identity, global geopolitics and the increasingly divided political climate in Europe and beyond. Who better to observe the disunity and chaos than an artist from the other side of the world?

Fiona Hall speaks at ACCA on June 18. Book tickets.

Uncommon Knowledge is on monthly at ACCA until November.

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