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Current Exhibition

Art as essential activity: an inquiry

From the depths of Melbourne’s COVID-19 Stage 4 lockdown, TarraWarra Museum of Art has commissioned a new series of artistic inquiries that explore the role of art in a global pandemic. The series, titled Art as essential activity: an inquiry, is conceived and curated by Melbourne-based independent curator Biljana Ciric.

Ciric says the pandemic has shown we need to develop new modes of connection and exploration. As we have discovered, the internet will never be a substitute for a physical encounter because physicality is crucial for our wellbeing.

Art as essential activity will look at new ways to practice international collaboration in this time of limited mobility. Some of the questions being posed include: What is the role of art in times of a global pandemic? Can art be considered as an essential service and, if so, how can institutions perform that essential service? Can they be used in the cause of emotional health and how?

Given our current restricted living conditions, can art institutions provide an experience more valuable than an individual work of art? How do we conceive of the physical presence of museums and galleries in these times, without turning them into a hyper-sanitised space?

In a gesture of solidarity, artists have been invited to contribute to Art as essential activity by thinking about our common future and ways of co-existing with the coronavirus.

Through presenting this series of new modes of encounter and connectivity in a time of closed borders, this project seeks to generate a renewed feeling of solidarity amongst the international community. Underlying this approach is a spirit of generosity, of not being afraid to learn from each other, and a willingness to allow for cracks to open wider and expose certain failures. In showing their vulnerability in this time of immense uncertainty and turmoil, and by creating a space for openness in a period of great restriction and access, each of these artists prompt us to consider a new role for art as a form of radical care.

Stories from the Room – A project by Jasphy Zheng

The first project in the series is NY/China-based Chinese-American artist Jasphy Zheng with Stories from the Room, a participatory work that collects personal writings about the shared experience of living through the COVID-19 pandemic. The artist now invites everyone to permanently contribute their reflections, journals, or memos to help build a living archive that documents this unique moment in history.

Once lockdown is lifted, this archive will be assembled for public viewing at TarraWarra Museum of Art, in a COVID-safe manner, as a monument to the contributors’ stories and voices.

Zheng states: ”Through this long-term project, I am rethinking the gap between on and offline worlds as a new territory that defines, questions, and challenges the distance between sociality and solidarity at a time like this. Through a collective act, this project simulates a physical gathering of text by collecting paralleled realities from participants and displaying them in a public space. We nourish outpouring to oneself in the form of a community regardless of distance.”

Earlier this year, Stories from the Room was staged at the Center for Contemporary Art, Kitakyushu, Japan, where it received submissions from people living through the pandemic from across Japan and further afield, including Wuhan, China, and the USA.

To participate in Stories from the Room, simply:

– Document your reflections on living through the COVID-19 pandemic through letters, emails, personal writing, journals or memos, at any length and in any language you prefer

– Write as often as you wish; multiple submissions over time are welcome and each contributor will have a dedicated folder in the archive

– Send your writings to storiesfromtheroom@twma.com.au or by post to Stories from the Room, c/- TarraWarra Museum of Art, PO Box 310, Healesville VIC 3777, Australia.

Please ensure your communication is dated, with your name and location only. Do not include any private details (such as street address, telephone or email) in the letter, which may be exhibited at the Museum. Anonymous quotes may be published online or used for promotional purposes. All received writing will be saved in an archive as physical copies, and each contributor will have a dedicated folder for recurring contributions. Submissions will not be returned to the sender, and will remain as part of the artwork.

Submissions are welcome at any time – there is no closing date for this open call.

Want to get your community involved? Share this poster.

We welcome contributions in all languages. Please find translated information for select languages below.

BACK TO CURRENT EXHIBITION

Current Exhibition

Art as essential activity: an inquiry

30 August 2020 - 11 July 2021

Curated by: Biljana Ciric

From the depths of Melbourne’s COVID-19 Stage 4 lockdown, TarraWarra Museum of Art has commissioned a new series of artistic inquiries that explore the role of art in a global pandemic. The series, titled Art as essential activity: an inquiry, is conceived and curated by Melbourne-based independent curator Biljana Ciric.

Ciric says the pandemic has shown we need to develop new modes of connection and exploration. As we have discovered, the internet will never be a substitute for a physical encounter because physicality is crucial for our wellbeing.

Art as essential activity will look at new ways to practice international collaboration in this time of limited mobility. Some of the questions being posed include: What is the role of art in times of a global pandemic? Can art be considered as an essential service and, if so, how can institutions perform that essential service? Can they be used in the cause of emotional health and how?

Given our current restricted living conditions, can art institutions provide an experience more valuable than an individual work of art? How do we conceive of the physical presence of museums and galleries in these times, without turning them into a hyper-sanitised space?

In a gesture of solidarity, artists have been invited to contribute to Art as essential activity by thinking about our common future and ways of co-existing with the coronavirus.

Through presenting this series of new modes of encounter and connectivity in a time of closed borders, this project seeks to generate a renewed feeling of solidarity amongst the international community. Underlying this approach is a spirit of generosity, of not being afraid to learn from each other, and a willingness to allow for cracks to open wider and expose certain failures. In showing their vulnerability in this time of immense uncertainty and turmoil, and by creating a space for openness in a period of great restriction and access, each of these artists prompt us to consider a new role for art as a form of radical care.

Stories from the Room – A project by Jasphy Zheng

The first project in the series is NY/China-based Chinese-American artist Jasphy Zheng with Stories from the Room, a participatory work that collects personal writings about the shared experience of living through the COVID-19 pandemic. The artist now invites everyone to permanently contribute their reflections, journals, or memos to help build a living archive that documents this unique moment in history.

Once lockdown is lifted, this archive will be assembled for public viewing at TarraWarra Museum of Art, in a COVID-safe manner, as a monument to the contributors’ stories and voices.

Zheng states: ”Through this long-term project, I am rethinking the gap between on and offline worlds as a new territory that defines, questions, and challenges the distance between sociality and solidarity at a time like this. Through a collective act, this project simulates a physical gathering of text by collecting paralleled realities from participants and displaying them in a public space. We nourish outpouring to oneself in the form of a community regardless of distance.”

Earlier this year, Stories from the Room was staged at the Center for Contemporary Art, Kitakyushu, Japan, where it received submissions from people living through the pandemic from across Japan and further afield, including Wuhan, China, and the USA.

To participate in Stories from the Room, simply:

– Document your reflections on living through the COVID-19 pandemic through letters, emails, personal writing, journals or memos, at any length and in any language you prefer

– Write as often as you wish; multiple submissions over time are welcome and each contributor will have a dedicated folder in the archive

– Send your writings to storiesfromtheroom@twma.com.au or by post to Stories from the Room, c/- TarraWarra Museum of Art, PO Box 310, Healesville VIC 3777, Australia.

Please ensure your communication is dated, with your name and location only. Do not include any private details (such as street address, telephone or email) in the letter, which may be exhibited at the Museum. Anonymous quotes may be published online or used for promotional purposes. All received writing will be saved in an archive as physical copies, and each contributor will have a dedicated folder for recurring contributions. Submissions will not be returned to the sender, and will remain as part of the artwork.

Submissions are welcome at any time – there is no closing date for this open call.

Want to get your community involved? Share this poster.

We welcome contributions in all languages. Please find translated information for select languages below.