Diana Baker Smith
Opening: 5.30pm Friday 18 March 2022
Exhibition: 19 March – 17 April 2022
Performance: 2pm Saturday 9 April 2022
Contemporary Art Tasmania
The Lost Hour is an exhibition led by artist Diana Baker Smith that reanimates the work of the Australian dancer, choreographer, and artist Philippa Cullen. During her brief career, Cullen forged new connections between movement, sound and technology. She is remembered by her peers as a brilliant, genre spanning artist, who profoundly shaped Sydney’s early experimental art scene.
When Baker Smith began researching Cullen in 2015, she identified two boxes of archival material, listed in the collection of the National Library of Australia. When she went to Canberra to inspect them, she found one had gone missing. The second contained the records of Cullen’s most expansive project, 24 Hour Concert, 1974, a collaborative, durational performance event, staged in multiple locations across Sydney. Like many ephemeral works from the 1970s, 24 Hour Concert lives on only as traces and in the memories of those who were present at the time. In conversation with one of Cullen’s collaborators, composer Greg Schiemer, Baker Smith learned that 24 Hour Concert took place on the day when clocks are put forward for daylight savings, meaning it ran for only 23 hours. A second, hour long concert was planned for the following year, but Cullen died before it could take place.
The story of this lost hour, together with the documents, fragments and other anecdotes surrounding 24 Hour Concert, was the starting point for this exhibition. In keeping with the collaborative spirit of 24 Hour Concert, Baker Smith has worked with dancers Wendy Morrow, Sofie Burgoyne and Brooke Stamp, artists Ella Sutherland and Samuel Hodge, and musicians Bree van Reyk, Miles Brown, and Jon Smeathers, to create a series of new works that span performance, moving image, photography and text based instructions. These collaborative works suggest that, while traces can disappear, they might also be embodied and performed in multiple ways through strategies of intergenerational care, rewriting and reimagining. With a commitment to speculative reinvention – as a way to carry the past into the present – The Lost Hour embraces the generative capacities of Philippa Cullen’s archive.
The One Hour Concert in Hobart will take place at CAT on 9 April. Performers: Sofie Burgoyne, Wendy Morrow and Jon Smeathers
The artist would like to thank Frances Barrett, Kate Blackmore, Graeme W. Browne, Fiona Cullen, Fernando do Campo, Aleks Danko, Kelly Doley, Julie Ewington, Stephen Jones, P. Johnson and Jay Maxwell, Verónica Tello, Greg Schiemer, Ianto Ware and the National Library of Australia.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; by the NSW Government through Create NSW; and UNSW Art and Design.
Diana Baker Smith lives and works on the land of the Gadigal people. She is an artist who works across moving image, performance, and text. Her artistic practice is highly collaborative, research driven, and informed by feminist methodologies. Diana’s recent projects combine archival research, oral histories, and fiction to explore the politics of art history. Such projects include a trilogy of video essays about the origin myths of Australian art history in collaboration art historian Verónica Tello. The first work in this series, Opening Night (The Order of Arrangements) was commissioned by the National Gallery of Australia in 2020, and screened at the Sydney Opera House in 2021. Diana is a founding member of art collective Barbara Cleveland, and has worked collaboratively with artists Frances Barrett, Kate Blackmore, and Kelly Doley since 2007. They have presented major solo exhibitions and commissions at the Art Gallery of NSW, Museum of Contemporary Art, Biennale of Sydney, and Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. Their work has shown internationally, with video works and performances at Hayward Gallery in London, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea in Milan, and at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul. Diana holds a PhD from the University of NSW, where she is Lecturer in Fine Arts in the School of Art & Design.