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New exhibition: Light Show

New exhibition: Light Show

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia is delighted to present Light Show, a major survey exhibition exploring the phenomenal aspects of light and its versatility as a sculptural medium.

With almost 20 installations and sculptures by international artists from the 1960s to the present, Light Show brings to Sydney some of the most visually stimulating artworks seen in recent years, with installations re-created specially for the exhibition.

The earliest works in Light Show were created in the early 1960s at a time when new alliances were being forged within art, science, technology and industry. During this period, artists around the world were investigating light and its power to transform space and to influence perception.

The record-breaking exhibition opens to the public on Thursday, 16 April 2015, following a sold-out showing at Hayward Gallery, London, and record attendances at Auckland Art Gallery.

MCA Director, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE said, ‘Light Show offers an extraordinary audience experience. There are works that bathe visitors in changing light or immerse them in environments that play with perception. Some invite interaction, others pulse and flicker in hypnotic ways. We are delighted to be presenting such an array of ground-breaking works by some of the most significant artists of recent decades to Australian audiences.’

Exhibition highlights include the pioneering minimalist sculptures of American Dan Flavin, composed of off-the-shelf fluorescent tubes, French artist François Morellet’s work in neon and David Batchelor’s use of bright, industrially-produced colour. It also features immersive environmental installations by Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez, James Turrell, Anthony McCall, and Ann Veronica Janssens, among others.

Artists practicing throughout the last five decades have been quick to embrace new technologies, while using old forms of light in ever-inventive ways. In Light Show, recent works composed of state-of-the-art computer-controlled LEDs (light-emitting diodes) – including Jenny Holzer’s monumental LED signs and Leo Villareal’s large cylinder of light, made up of 19,600 computer-controlled LEDs – are shown in the company of sculptures constructed from recycled lightboxes rescued from city streets, and works using most modest materials such as a single theatrical spotlight.

In conjunction with the UN/Unesco 2015 International Year of Light, an array of public programs is scheduled throughout winter to further enhance the Light Show experience. These include curators’ talks, a keynote lecture On Light and Darkness by artist David Batchelor in relation to his work in Light Show, and LIGHT LAB, a creative family space in the museum’s National Centre for Creative Learning, offering a range of interactive activities with light and colour (FREE entry).

Light Show is curated by Dr Cliff Lauson and organised by Hayward Gallery, London. The exhibition is accompanied by a large-format, fully-illustrated hardcover catalogue, which traces the rich history of light as a sculptural medium from the 1960s to today.

Light Show will be on exhibition at the MCA until Sunday, 5 July 2015, and will coincide with Vivid Sydney (22 May to 8 June 2015), the festival of light, music and ideas, again with late-night openings throughout the festival.

In association with Light Show the MCA is also presenting an exhibition of light works by Australian artists from the MCA Collection – Luminous – running 9 March to 8 June 2015 in the MCA Level 1 Galleries. Curated by Senior Curator Natasha Bullock in response to Light Show, this MCA Collection exhibition will feature a major new commission by Jonathan Jones, alongside works by Sandra Selig, Peter Kennedy, William Seeto and John Mawurndjul.

MCA Collection: Luminous includes shooting star spirits, geometric patterns of light and dark dancing on walls, ambient environments and infinity windows carved into architectural space. These works by Australian artists explore the astonishing and subtle effects of light, the exhibition presents works created from the 1970s to now.

Standard single admission to Light Show is $20 Adults, $15 Concessions, $50 Family, $10 Youth (ages 13 and above), and admission for younger children is FREE (ages 0–12). Early-bird specials are available online until February 28, offering a 20% saving across all ticket types.

Entry to the Gallery’s collection-based exhibitions, including Luminous, remains FREE.

For more information and tickets, please visit

Image caption: Anthony McCall, You and I Horizontal, 2005, © the artist 2015, image courtesy the artist, installation view, Institut d’Art Contemporain, Villeurbanne, 2006, photo: Blaise Adilon