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From the archives: Curious catalogue

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Girl On Film: Erin Coates

The National 2017: New Australian Art artist Erin Coates gets in the driving seat for our April film experience more

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Anna Oppermann Paradoxical Intentions

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


26 Jul 1994 to 31 Oct 1994

Curator: Bernice Murphy

about the exhibition

Anna Oppermann was born in 1940 in Berlin, and died in 1993. During her career as an artist, she received considerable criticism for her chaotic and obsessive collections of paper scraps, photographs and notes that she presented as installations she called ‘Ensembles’. The sheer amount of material contained within each of the 60 Ensembles she created made the works difficult to comprehend – the closer one got to read a particular note or see a photograph properly, the further away one got from the collection of ephemera as a whole. A clear overview of the works was, therefore, bound to fail. The impression is of a detailed, personal archive filling the wall, spilling onto the floor, begging for interpretation and examination while simultaneously rejecting this attention.

In 1994, the MCA displayed Oppermann’s final Ensemble piece, titled Paradoxical Intentions: To lie the blue down from the sky. Each Ensemble explored one theme, such as religion, sex, and the experience of being an artist and an outsider. This last piece, created between 1988-1992, used mirrors as instruments of illusion and projection, and echoed Oppermann’s very first Ensemble, Mirror Ensemble (1968-1988) which featured drawings of mirrors reflecting a blue sky.