ACCA’s Meatus exhibition vocalises the typically unheard

ACCA’s Meatus exhibition vocalises the typically unheard
Kaylah Joelle Baker

After a couple of years spent waiting for the pandemic to settle, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) is proud to finally present artist Frances Barrett’s exhibition Meatus after the original March 2020 instalment was cancelled.

Open to the public from April 2 to June 19, the project is not only a significant work for ACCA due to it being continually postponed but also because it focuses on supporting Australian women artists.

As part of the Suspended Moment: The Katthy Cavaliere Fellowship, three female-identifying Australian artists were selected to release ambitious new work at either ACCA, Carriageworks in Sydney or Mona in Hobart.

“The Katthy Cavaliere Fellowship was an opportunity to support Australian women artists with performative art practices,” Meatus’ commissioning curator Annika Kristensen said.

“This criteria not only reflected [artist] Katthy’s own identity and interests, but created significant commissioning opportunities for women artists, whose work has historically been less supported and visible within Australian arts institutions.”

As the selected individual for ACCA, Frances has been making the most of the space provided at the gallery, symbolically using the various gallery spaces as a meatus – a medical term referring to open passages connecting the outside world to the interior of the body.

“The idea from the start was to treat all four of ACCA’s gallery spaces, each of which have distinct and different characteristics, as one uniform environment – a total experience for the visitor,” Annika said.


Once inside ‘the body’ of the exhibition, the audience can expect to hear a series of newly commissioned sound compositions. Audible within a dramatic, yet sparse, exhibition environment, the works encourage the audience to consider the ways in which they themselves physically listen – not only through the ears, but perhaps also through other various meatuses.


Leaning on sound as the object rather than overfilling the four gallery spaces with visuals, individual sound pieces will also interfere and “bleed into one another”, a carefully crafted and intentional choice.

Frances has also leant on her experience with collaborative work and its effectiveness to involve other artists in her idea and give their work a platform.

Alongside Frances, Debris Facility Pty Ltd artists Brian Fuata and Hayley Forward, and artists and musicians Nina Buchanan, Sione Teumohenga and Del Lumanta have also collaborated on creating new works within the curatorial framework.

Proving that while the Fellowship was specifically aimed at supporting three particular Australian women artists, there is still the potential for a multitude of artists’ works to be seen and heard through the process.

“While the concept of Meatus singularly belongs to Frances, the exhibition is equally a platform for others,” Annika said.

“There has been a great deal of trust, relationship-building and generosity that has gone into this process – and it’s really a strength of
Frances’s to be able to pull it off so thoughtfully, and to maintain those relationships.”

Choosing collaboration as her approach before the pandemic event hit, Frances’s exhibition choices truly tap into highlighting how important listening and working with, and not against, other people is these days.

They’re choices Annika said had made the opening “enormously cathartic and exciting” for all involved.

“After so many months of our lives spent indoors, I hope that this exhibition offers people a much-needed opportunity to experience contemporary art in a very embodied way – in a physical gallery space, together with other people.”

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