Arts House, Melbourne and Utp, Sydney have collaboratively designed a 10-month long spacious program for a trans-generational cohort of 5 artists from VIC and 5 artists from NSW to share ideas and work nationally and internationally, connect with artistic peers from the South West Asia and North Africa region and decentralise shared learnings with their local communities of practice.
Counterflows aims to recentre the artist’s agency in planetary conversations and empower them to engage with history, alterity, geopolitics and society in their contemporary present through their practice, process, voice and tools.
The program begins in Bankstown with a 3-day reflective practice intensive bringing complex questions into focus through critical dialogue and practice sharing around the Sharjah Biennale 15’s curatorial theme, Thinking Historically in the Present. Embedding methods of open inquiry and peer exchange, this intensive will harness rigour in imagination, practice and relation, and also serve as a preparatory segment for the international trip. Hosted by UTP and guest artists and curators with a grounding in Western Sydney.
In March 2023, the artists spent two weeks in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, for Sharjah Art Foundation’s March Meeting 2023 at Sharjah Biennial 15. The visit included a semi-structured itinerary including guided walkthroughs of Art Dubai and Sharjah Biennial 15 with the curatorial team, participation in a public program with visiting artists and thinkers, studio visits with local artists in the region, walking place and critical writing workshops with Rahel Aima, practice sharing session at 421 Warehouse, networking dinners and allied site visits.
Upon return and with time for the ideas to percolate, Arts House will host a week-long lab with Australian artists who exhibited at the Sharjah Biennale to discuss their expansive bodies of work through the filter of Okwui Enwezor’s proposition of ‘postcolonial constellations’ and its pluriverse of key concepts. This will be an opportunity for the cohort to interrogate, translate and build new solidarities through artistic strategies and radical pedagogies.
Finally, Arts House and Utp will consolidate a distributed learning reader through an open access and interdisciplinary publication with Runway Journal that disseminates the knowledge constellated by the participating artists of this program.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, through project funding.
This project has been assisted by Create NSW, through multi-year funding.