Richard Bell: You Can Go Now

Tue 12th October, 2021 – Sun 7th November, 2021
10:00am – 5:00pm
Museum of Contemporary of Art Australia (MCA)
Tallawoladah, 140 George Street, The Rocks
Price: Free
It’s the most comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s life and works – and now you have a second opportunity to see it – including the original Aboriginal Tent Embassy, first assembled on the lawns of Parliament House in 1972.

The MCA’s free exhibition of works by artist and activist Richard Bell – which spans 30 years of his art practice – opened earlier this year, but closed three weeks later due to Sydney’s lockdown.

From Tuesday October 12, the MCA is reopening and extending the timeline for You Can Go Now so more of us get to see it. You’ll have until Sunday November 7 to wander the gallery and experience the artworks of one of Australia’s most important contemporary artists.

What makes Bell so important? “He’s an artist who has significantly shifted the discourse locally, nationally and internationally of First Nations people,” says outgoing MCA director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE in a statement.

The exhibition showcases Bell’s practice from the early 1990s to now, including how he uses humour and satire to address representation, identity politics, nationalism and neo-Liberalism and the perceptions of Aboriginal art within a post-colonial history and framework.

Bell, who is descendant of the Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman, Goreng Goreng peoples, says: “My shows are always an act of protest. I make art for other Aboriginal people and I want my art to be empowering to them. This body of work reflects a long history of Aboriginal protest. I want audiences to be challenged.”

Curated by Clothilde Bullen, the exhibition includes nearly 40 artworks from painting and installation to video. There’s the first iteration of Bell’s Theorem (2002), which questions the commodification of Aboriginal art, plus the large-scale painting Scientia E Metaphysica (Bell’s Theorem) (2003), winner of the 20th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award.

In line with the NSW Public Health Order, visitors 16 years and over must present proof of full vaccination on entry and, while inside, all visitors aged 12 and over must wear a mask.