images: “Quinto Sesto – Fighting for Peace”, borrowed and collected objects, photographs, ephemera, reconstructions and documents, (installation views)
Departing from our usual exhibition format, the Institute of Contemporary Art will be presenting a series of borrowed documents and artefacts from the Australian pacifist organisation Quinto Sesto. This group, little known locally was founded in 1975 by second-generation migrants in alliance with local, politically active youth. Originally meeting at university and fired by the contemporary political situation, Quinto Sesto sought suitable means of addressing and protesting some of the burning issues of the era. These included the Vietnam War (most obviously) as well as Governor General John Kerr’s sacking of Prime Minister Whitlam’s progressive labour party and Joh Bjelke-Peterson’s conservative ascendancy in Queensland. The group were also heavily influenced by international civil rights movements including the radical activities of the Black Panthers, the Simbionese Liberation Army and the Weather Underground. They were also broadly effected by the intense ferment of the late ‘sixties European political situation. However, unlike many of the other protest groups emerging from this period, Quinto Sesto were differentiated by the fact that a number of their members were also artists who believed strongly in the social responsibility of the artist’s role. Declaring themselves pacifists, they nevertheless remained unregistered due to the fact that soon after their formation – and due to a more general background climate of paranoia and police violence – they were regarded as a terrorist organisation. Increasingly facing serious prosecution, the group retreated and soon disappeared, eventually sinking due to the combined pressures of in-fighting, artistic and political disillusionment.
the Institute of Contemporary Art Newtown (I.C.A.N.) represents the Estate of Quinto Sesto