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Jun 10 2020

Queensland Artist Relief Initiative “Making Art Work” Amid Crisis

by Charmaine Kong

HANNAH GARTSIDE is one of several artists commissioned by Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art (IMA) to produce a new work as part of IMA’s artist relief program “Making Art Work.” Courtesy Institute of Modern Art.

Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art (IMA) has released the first round of commissioned works from its new artist relief program “Making Art Work,” created in response to the Covid-19 prompted lockdowns and economic downturn. Featuring over 40 Queensland artists in total, the initiative will continue throughout 2020. 

IMA asked artists to reexamine the value of their practice during this unique period, responding to one of four curatorial categories: Unprecedented Times, Industrial Actions, Permanent Revolution, and Relief Measures. At the moment, details of the 12 commissioned works announced are displayed on the “Making Art Work” online platform, while plans are underway for these to be exhibited at the Judith Wright Arts Centre pending reopening. A publication project is also in the works, to be released in 2021. 

The first group, Unprecedented Times, features projects that capture novel experiences amid the current pandemic and includes Mariam Arcilla’s Interno (2020), a series of conversations documenting the lives of artists such as Sezzo and Sari-Sari as they adjust to the “new normal.” To be unveiled in September, Kinly Grey’s endless (2020) is an installation employing poetics and sensory experience to reorient perspectives of change. Other works include those by poet Mindy Gill and multidisciplinary artist Des Skordilis.

For the theme of Industrial Actions, which serves as a call to resistance, Tony Albert presented a 4-minute video You Wreck Me (2020), a parodic rendering of singer Miley Cyrus’s music video Wrecking Ball (2013). Starred by Albert himself, the work imagines the artist destroying statues of the British Navy captain James Cook, who landed on eastern Australia 250 years ago, beginning the British colonization of the island and its peoples. Looking at another pressing topic, Amy Sargeant appropriated motifs of the Australian national anthem and flag in her 13-minute video and sound work Anthem (2020) to rebuke the government’s Covid-19 response. Sally Olds’s meta-essay, also included in this group, is yet to be published.

The third pillar Permanent Revolution aims to demonstrates a radical thinking mindset in constructing a post-pandemic future, and includes video work Black or White (2020) by ∑GG√E|N, which examines societal codes through music, and a downloadable poster created by Tori-Jay Mordey, to be revealed on June 22 in the Queensland edition of The Saturday Paper

The last group, Relief Measures, underpins notions of self-care and collective well-being. Included are a performance lecture Knowing Fabric (2020) scheduled for live streaming on June 25 on the “Making Art Work” site during which Hannah Gartside will share her techniques of utilizing textiles in her sculptures, and Susan Hawkins’s video Home Made Jam (2020), which transforms household items into musical instruments. Also included is Kieron Anderson’s video Djarala Djarlo Tjidjen on Minjerribah (2020), which shows him practising earth oven cooking.

Sponsored by the Queensland government, the second batch of commissions will be released on August 10, followed by another slated for October 12, and a final presentation on December 7.

Charmaine Kong is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

To read more of ArtAsiaPacific’s articles, visit our Digital Library.

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