Open lecture | John Mateer | 7 março



Invisible Genres: Making an Indian Ocean Exhibition

John Mateer | Independent curator


07 março | March, 17.30h
Sala 0.06, Edifício I&D (piso 0) / NOVA FCSH
Entrada livre | Free Admission


The curator and writer John Mateer will present an overview of the development of his exhibition Invisible Genres and its accompanying book Invisible Genres: Two Essays on Iconoclasm. Curated to commemorate 400 years since the first Dutch landing in the north of western Australia, Invisible Genres was created as a speculative reconfiguring of art historical linearity and categories in the attempt to establish a dynamic, non-nationalistic, relationship between contemporary artists from the eastern Indian Ocean region. Starting from those geographical connections established by that initial Dutch voyage which touched on and connected the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia, Mateer selected works that illustrated traces or echoes of a specifically 17th Century Dutch visual culture. With the events of pre-Reformation iconoclastic riots, those acts of modernity, as the ground-zero of his speculations, he began the curatorial process by question the role of the visible and invisible, the spiritual and the everyday, in the region’s contemporary art. The Dutch video artist Wendelien van Oldenborgh’s No False Echoes, a work drawing together Dutch church painting and modern Indonesian politics, was conceptually and physically central to the exhibition. Although described by the critic Marco Marcon as being akin to the thematic practice of the seminal Swiss curator Harold Szeeman, Invisible Genres was in fact an attempt to rediscover the violence of modernity that underlies contemporary art of the region and to reshuffle the conventional categories of artistic genre and medium to see what commonalities might emerge between artists as vastly different as William Kentridge and Julie Dowling, or I Dewa Putu Moko and Abdul-Rahman Abdullah. Mateer will also explain the complementary role played by the publication on which he collaborated with the Dutch art historian Arvi Wattel.


I Dewa Putu Mokoh. Bom Bali, 2006. Chinese ink and acrylic on canvas, 63 by 82 cm. Charles Darwin University Art Collection, Darwin, Australia.

I Dewa Putu Mokoh. Bom Bali, 2006. Chinese ink and acrylic on canvas, 63 by 82 cm. Charles Darwin University Art Collection, Darwin, Australia.


John Mateer
JOHN MATEER © Daniel Terkl

John Mateer © Daniel Terkl

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, for three decades John Mateer has been based in Australia, in Perth and Melbourne. During that time he has written for most Australian art publications and several newspaper. For eight years he was a frequent contributor to Art Monthly Australia. His criticism has also appeared in a range of literary magazines and in Asian Art Review (Hong Kong), Art Radar (Taiwan) and Frieze (UK). His contributions to books include essays on Domenico de Clario, Ian Fairweather, Tom Nicholson, among others. In the early 2000s he was involved in the development of The South Project which aimed to build networks between Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America. In recent years, as a curator, he has produced exhibitions focused on Australia and the Indian Ocean/South-East Asia region: In Confidence: Reorientations in Recent Art (2013) for Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, and Invisible Genres (2016) for the John Curtin Gallery, Curtin University; the latter being complemented with talks and screenings and documented with a book in collaboration with the Dutch art historian Arvi Wattel. Currently he is developing a cycle of screenings focused on artist/filmmakers from Africa, Europe and Portugal.


Mariana Pinto dos Santos (IHA/NOVA FCSH,  RG – ArtTHC)
Project Iberian Modernisms and the Primitivist Imaginary (PIM – PTDC/ART-HIS/29837/2017) (



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