Karen Casey: Let’s Shake

The Koorie Heritage Trust (KHT) presents the recent acquisition Let’s Shake by the late internationally recognised artist and Palawa woman Karen Casey (1956–2021), generously donated by her son Daniel Young in memory of his mother. 

Karen Casey: Let’s Shake opens at KHT on Saturday 27 July and will run until Sunday 24 November 2024.

Let’s Shake was a project committed to peace and reconciliation through the act of a handshake – an ongoing public event in which participants of different cultural backgrounds and ages shook hands with wet plaster held between their palms.

Karen Casey said, “Let’s Shake is a participatory art event encouraging people to extend a hand in friendship and go beyond their comfort zone to have a genuine connection with another person. The process involves casting the inside of a handshake while people sit opposite and communicate with each other. Inspired by the notion of the space held within a handshake,’’ she continued, “the process captures the united intention, communication and connection between two people.”  

Let’s Shake is an artwork of immense power. Having previously been exhibited in 2008 at the Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia at Federation Square in 2008, and consequently in Mexico and New Zealand in 2011, and again in Melbourne in 2018, the work was last presented as part of the Lorne Sculpture Biennale in 2022 following Casey’s passing in 2021. Following the Lorne Sculpture Biennale, the work was donated to the KHT by Casey’s son Daniel Young. 

Presented for the first time at KHT, this installation will feature over 200 plaster casts from the series (of which there are 476). 

Designed in a linear format, the works will wrap around the walls of the gallery; the installation creates an immersive contemplative space. 

This work was born out of a series of public events that took place between 2006-2011 in Australia, New Zealand and Mexico. 

With a career spanning more than three decades, Karen Casey explored the intersection between the arts, science and society. She worked across a wide range of media in her artistic practice, including painting, printmaking, installation, video, performance art and public art. From the late 1980s, Casey exhibited widely nationally and internationally, and is represented in significant private and public collections both in Australia and overseas. 

Early in her career, Casey studied fine art at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education before taking up silver-smithing and part-time graphic design. In 1986, she moved to Narrm (Melbourne), where she began her arts practice in painting and printmaking, soon becoming one of the groundbreaking First Peoples artists to exhibit in Australia and overseas during the late 1980s and into the 1990s. 

A long-held interest in metaphysics informs Casey’s practice, often expressed through works relating to consciousness and interconnection. Her interest in both the human mind and social interaction has led to various immersive and participatory projects, designed to induce altered states of mind and emotional responses from audiences and participants that relate to positivity, empathy and connection.

Karen Casey: Let’s Shake opens Saturday 27 July until Sunday 24 November 2024 at the Koorie
Heritage Trust (KHT), Birrarung Building, Fed Square.

For more information, visit: www.koorieheritagetrust.com.au

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