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Octopus 6: We Know Who We Are

Zehra Ahmed, Mathew Hunt, Helen Johnson, Ash Keating, Merran Sierakowski, Bernie Slater

7 July -
19 August 2006

200 Gertrude Street

200 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Octopus 6 was the sixth edition in a series of annual exhibitions at Gertrude Contemporary, which present the work of significant artists and current tendencies in art practice locally and nationally. A flagship project in Gertrude’s annual exhibition calendar, the Octopus series has developed an outstanding history of supporting new curatorial and artistic positions, and has promoted opportunities for contemporary artists to develop ambitious new projects within a critical and supportive public context. Charged with creative tension and socio-political friction, Octopus 6: We know who we are was developed by guest curator Zara Stanhope, and drew together six artists from around Australia. The exhibition presented diverse bodies of work from these artists, which proved nonetheless united by their strongly ethical approach to the process of artmaking and to the role of artists within the broader framework of contemporary Australia. Describing the turbulent context of the artists’ works, Zara Stanhope has said, “their art draws from living in the environment of Australian society; which recently has experienced increasingly restrictive positions from national government on the constitution of our citizenry and writing of our histories, applying pressure to prescribe who we are. While those in power believe they can define our national character, most of us live in suburbs where both multicultural unrest and coexistence operate side by side, and indigenous perspectives on any issues are invisible.”

“Just as each artist does not exist outside their socio-political context, neither can the culture they contribute to be censored or cordoned off from daily life. In the process of their practices, the artists of Octopus 6 think about the impacts of economic change, environmental disregard, or conscious or unconscious acts such as religious ignorance, on the constitution of individual sensibilities and societal relationships.” Octopus 6: We know who we are proved a provocative and stimulating exhibition, challenging us to rethink our relationship to both our national identity and the taking of responsibility for ethical behaviour.

Octopus 6: We know who we are was supported by Proclaim and Yanni Florence.


  • Zehra Ahmed
  • Mathew Hunt
  • Helen Johnson
  • Ash Keating
  • Merran Sierakowski
  • Bernie Slater

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