James Nguyen: Open Glossary at ACCA

Sat 16th September, 2023 – Sun 19th November, 2023
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, main exhibition gallery
111 Sturt Street, Southbank
Price: Free entry
A major new exhibition by the interdisciplinary artist and collaborators, featuring multilingual installations and performances that bring issues of gender diversity and sexual identity to the fore.

Last year, Vietnamese-born artist James Nguyen was awarded the $80,000 Copyright Agency Partnerships Commission by the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) and the Copyright Agency, winning from a pool of 50 applicants. Now, his commission is taking over all four ACCA galleries for a major new exhibition over two months.

Interrogating the accessibility of art through a multilingual lens, Nguyen’s Open Glossary is a collaboration with Tamsen Hopkinson, Budi Sudarto, Kate ten Buuren and Chris Xu. The collective works look at a range of issues such as gender diversity and sexual identity, in the context of Australia (with a focus on First Nations peoples) and our neighbours in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

One of the centrepieces is an installation of hundreds of white shirts – collected from all over Australia – that relate to different points in LGBTQI+ history, pop culture and even Nguyen’s family’s own story. Inside, there are personal accounts of both belonging and othering experienced by queer migrants who have recently settled into Australia, recorded in workshops co-facilitated by Sudarto.

A translation project and installation called A Queer Glossary documents and highlights queer terms used for and by community members who speak in languages other than English; it’s surrounded by “angels” meant to symbolise protection and a safe space for queer folk.

A conversation between Nguyen and Maori artist and curator Hopkinson sees both the linguistic and artistic coming together of the two practitioners, as well as traditions from their Vietnamese and Maori heritage. An interactive space, designed with ten Buuren, closes the exhibition; young people are invited to use zines, dioramas, costumes and more to create their own stories and works relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait people and contemporary Australian society.

It’s the second 2023 Copyright Agency Partnerships (CAP) Commission, which supports mid-career and established visual artists in Australia.

Entry to ACCA is free, and there’s a free family open day on Tuesday September 26 for kids aged 3 to 10 years old.

Tue to Fri 10am–5pm
Sat & Sun 11am–5pm

More information here.