Director’s Foreword

When Annika Kristensen, the curator of Love in Bright Landscapes, approached us a few years ago now with an idea for a show that explored the similarities and differences between the two cities of Perth and Los Angeles, we jumped at the opportunity.

For those of us living in Perth who have ever travelled to L.A. or even for those who haven’t, the mirrored experiences or impressions of car culture and endless freeways; sprawling suburbia; blazing ocean sun-sets; big skies; and hot, dry weather immediately come to mind.

Annika, who grew up in Perth and has travelled frequently to L.A., has in this superb show addressed these obvious comparisons but has also gone much deeper in her analysis.

Through her selection of works and an enlightening essay she also draws on the indigenous and colonial histories of the two cities, as well as their respective resource booms and seamy underbellies. As Frontier cities, Perth and L.A. have a certain freedom in their isolation and self-containment but more importantly a pervading sense of potential.

The exhibition’s title, taken from an album by 80s Perth cult band The Triffids, perfectly sets the scene for a show that, perhaps above-all else, explores narrative and myth-making and how folk-lore and cultural expression can shape the identity of a place.

It does this across both time and place, complete with re-interpreted memories and alternate histories. Visitors are offered a remarkable auditory deep-time understanding of Perth and its surrounds, a photo-essay of Sunset Boulevard in the 1960s and “Cup City” in the 1980s, a knitted memorial to decades of the infamous and sensational, through to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic captured in paint en plein air and on camera during solitary walks.

While Perth has certainly been spared the level of devastation the pandemic has wreaked on L.A., the mounting of an exhibition such as this, ambitious at the best of times, has required a special kind of flexibility and inventiveness.  I would like to acknowledge the determination and commitment of Annika Kristensen, all the artists in the show and the extraordinary PICA team.

Love in Bright Landscapes would simply not have been possible without our funding bodies, donors and partners. PICA is pleased to receive support from the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, the Western Australian Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, the City of Perth, Creative Partnerships Australia, Hassell, Dulux and Grace.

This exhibition has been additionally supported by PICA’s Director’s Circle Donors, Alliance Française and the United States Government.

Amy Barrett-Lennard
PICA Director