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Tasmanian artist Sally Rees opens exhibition at Mona Museum of Old and New Art
Sally Rees, CRONE, 2021, Installation view at Mona. Photo: Mona/Jesse Hunniford. Image Courtesy MONA Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

HOBART.- Unruly, wise, fearsome: Mona presents CRONE, by Tasmanian artist Sally Rees. This new exhibition challenges the perceived invisibility of older women in society, through the folkloric character of the ‘crone’.

CRONE features a series of videos that have been transformed using hand-painted animation. This includes 17 video portraits of the artist’s ‘crones’ placed throughout the gallery, whose bird-like calls create a fearless chorus, and a large, double-sided projection showing video portraits of the artist in full ‘crone’ attire—one alone and one with her mother. Another work documents her transformation to the ‘crone’ on the sunrise of her fiftieth birthday. Visitors enter the exhibition by passing through dual works which act as gateways.

Sally Rees says: ‘As I have found myself hurtling towards my fifties, and entering a demographic that is increasingly encountering social or economic disadvantage, I wanted to create an effigy of how I wish to evolve as I age. An empowered figure to aspire to; a crone. My vision of the contemporary crone is resilient, wise, unruly, fearsome and generous; combining the finest qualities of both her fairytale counterpart and of the elder women I admire most. To call a woman a ‘crone’ is supposed to be an insult; I want this exhibition to make it feel like an honour.’

In the development of this project, Rees called upon her network of ‘crones’—her mother, friends and colleagues—who have inspired and forged a path for her. Being vulnerable and seeking support is a source of strength for Rees, something that she took for granted in her younger years.

Nicole Durling, who curated the exhibition at Mona, said: ‘Uncertainty has become familiar for us all since early 2020. As Sally developed this exhibition in the lead up to her fiftieth birthday—her approach was to lean in rather than recoil, embracing what her future held and harnessing uncertainty as a source of power. Inspired by her own network of women, she has created a persona that is fearless, honest and brave. Now, more than ever do we need to hear, listen and amplify the voice of the 'crone'.’

Sally Rees is the Mona recipient of Suspended Moment: The Katthy Cavaliere Fellowship, a partnership with Carriageworks, Sydney and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne.

This unprecedented collaboration awarded $100,000 to three women artists to create new work, with each institution presenting exhibitions starting in 2020: Giselle Stanborough: Cinopticon (7 August—26 September 2020, Carriageworks), Frances Barrett with Nina Buchanan, Hayley Forward, Brian Fuata, Del Lumanta and Sione Teumohenga and Debris Facility Pty Ltd: Meatus (18 September—14 November 2021, ACCA), and Sally Rees: CRONE (18 June—1 November 2021, Mona). It has been made possible by the estate of the late, Italian-born Australian artist, Katthy Cavaliere (1972-2012).

CRONE runs at Mona from 18 June until 1 November 2021 and is curated by Nicole Durling. The exhibition was commissioned by Mona, as part of Suspended Moment: The Katthy Cavaliere Fellowship, made possible with funds from the Estate of Katthy Cavaliere in partnership with Carriageworks and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA).

The exhibition tour of Suspended Moment: The Katthy Cavaliere Fellowship will commence in February 2022.

Sally Rees (b. 1970, Burnie, lutruwita/Tas, Australia) is an artist living and working on palawa country in nipaluna/Hobart who works across time-based, static, live and hybrid artforms. Rees is motivated by mining her autobiography to explore similarities between modes of clinical psychology, occult practice, meditation and protest. Rees holds a PhD from University of Tasmania, her exhibitions include Australian Centre for Photography (ACP), Sydney (2010), Artspace, Richmond, VA, USA, (2012), Contemporary Art Tasmania (CAT), Hobart (2011, 2014, 2016, 2018).

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