born 1950 in Sydney, Australia
lives and works in the Blue Mountains, Australia
Natural Parallels 2, 2019
rope and steel, dimensions variable
For Making Art Public, Ian Milliss created Natural Parallels 2, a site-specific rope installation within the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Stretching across all four levels of the gallery, two column-like forms emphasised the architectural and spatial elements of its surrounds.
Natural Parallels 2 references a period of transition that occurred for Milliss at the time of the early Kaldor Public Art Projects, echoing similar works made shortly after he volunteered on Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Wrapped Coast. His focus then shifted from conventional art-making to a socially and politically engaged practice, prompted by his acute awareness and exploration of space.
Ian Milliss is one of Australia’s first conceptual artists. His early 1970s participatory works soon led to a practice based on the premise that the artist’s role is to generate cultural change rather than manufacture content for the art industry. He has since worked with many progressive social and political groups and mostly with audiences outside the art world, ranging from urban activism and unionism to innovative agriculture. He argues that currently the most culturally significant activities are not recognised as art, are done by people who don’t call themselves artists, and will only be categorised as art in retrospect.
In 2020, Milliss participated in Kaldor Public Art Project 36: do it (australia), the organisation’s first digital art project.
Commissioned as part of Kaldor Public Art Projects’ 50th anniversary Making Art Public at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 7 September 2019 – 16 February 2020.
Images courtesy the artist and Kaldor Public Art Projects