ACCA Open: Artists and projects announced

AAR ACCA OpenSix new projects have been selected for ACCA Open – a new commissions series for contemporary art projects in the digital realm.

Devised as a way for ACCA to continue to work with and support contemporary artists during the COVID-19-related gallery closures and disruptions, the ACCA Open was an invitation for Australian artists and collaborations from all backgrounds, career levels and practices to submit ideas for projects that could be presented through digital platforms.

Artists Archie Barry, Zanny Begg, Léuli Eshraghi and Sean Peoples, and collaborators Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey, and Amrita Hepi and Sam Lieblich will each receive $8,000 to create a new work to be presented by ACCA on digital platforms from August 2020.

ACCA Artistic Director/CEO Max Delany said that while the original plan was to commission three new works for the series, an additional three projects have been added to the series, thanks to support from Creative Victoria’s Strategic Investment Fund.

“The response to the open call was enormous, with over 340 diverse and wide-ranging submissions received – from artists who had inherently worked this way throughout their artistic careers, to others keen to adapt their practice in response to the current landscape,” said Delany.

“We were humbled by the scope and calibre of proposals, and excited to be able to extend this opportunity to a further three artists/artistic collaborators, bringing the total of new commissions for the ACCA Open to six.”

“For audiences, ACCA Open offers a chance to experience new projects that, in vastly different ways, respond to and reflect on our unusual times – from a soundtrack, an AI chatbot, a 3D animated film and an infinite audio-visual process – and each will be delivered beyond what we traditionally understand to be the gallery environment.”

The ACCA Open selection process was assessed by a panel that included Max Delany (Artistic Director/CEO, ACCA), Annika Kristensen (Senior Curator, ACCA), Miriam Kelly (Curator, ACCA); Bianca Winataputri (Public Programs Coordinator, ACCA); Fayen D’Evie (Artist, academic, publisher and ACCA Board member); and Rowan McNaught (Artist and publisher).

The panel noted the extraordinary number and range of submissions received. “What united all of them was a sense of possibility, for both art and technology to continue to spark curiosity and create connection in new and original ways.” said Delany.

“We hope that these works will offer audiences multiple ways to digitally engage with art – from anywhere and at any time – ahead of ACCA’s physical re-opening. We are also pleased that the series inaugurates a new space for commissioning at ACCA which will continue in the future.”

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ACCA Open: Artists and projects include:

Archie Barry – Multiply (working title)
Archie Barry is an interdisciplinary artist currently living and working in Melbourne. Their artistic research is disseminated nationally and internationally in the form of exhibitions, performances, presentations and workshops, and their writing has featured in numerous publications.

Barry’s artistic practice is richly informed and complemented by lived experience. Consequently, Barry’s work takes form as an autobiographical, somatic, process-led multidisciplinary practice spanning performance, video, music composition and writing. Themes of personhood, embodiment, gender and mortality arise through sustained moments of intense affective connection with audiences.

Multiply is an artwork in the form of a soundtrack, and an exploration of suburban domestic life from the perspective of a pathogen asking; what is human self-determination? How might people value interdependence as survival? Devised as an antidote to disconnection, the project uses voice and texture to simulate touch, drawing on analogue and digital phonic histories.

Barry explores the potential of musicality as a way to create psychological space in counterpoint to our overexposure to digital images, and the constraints placed on shared audience-artwork spatial relationships as a consequence of the transition of social and work life into online spaces.

Zanny Begg – Magic Mountains
Zanny Begg is an artist and film maker who lives in Bulli, near Wollongong. With an interest in hidden and contested histories, Begg works with film, drawing and installation to explore ways in which we can live and be in the world differently.

She is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2016 Incinerator Art Award – Art for Social Change; the Terrence and Lynnette Fern Cite Residency Paris in 2016; and the inaugural ACMI and Artbank film commission, 2018. She has exhibited widely in Australia and internationally and teaches at UNSW Art and Design.

Begg will create a video work inside the now abandoned Waterfall Sanatorium in Sydney, where her great grandfather in-law, Bernard Patrick Murray, was quarantined and subsequently died from tuberculosis. Titled Magic Mountains after the Thomas Mann book which was published the year of Bernard Murray’s passing, which was also set inside a sanatorium, the project will take the form of an interactive artwork using touch to shift the direction of the video, mixing fiction with personal experience and local histories to reflect on the urgencies and sicknesses of our world.

This interactive filmic format brings artist and audience together to collectively explore anxieties related to immunity/contagion, solidarity/individualism, liberty/authoritarianism.

Léuli Eshraghi – AOAULI
Dr Léuli Eshraghi is a Samoan-Australian artist, curator and researcher who engages with and intervenes in display territories to centre Indigenous presence and power, sensual and spoken languages, and ceremonial-political practices.

Through performance, moving image, writing and installation, Eshraghi engages with Indigenous possibility as haunted by ongoing ‘militourist’ and missionary violences that erase fa’afafine-fa’atama from kinship structures. Eshraghi is the inaugural Horizon/Indigenous Futures postdoctoral fellow at Concordia University and a member of The Space Between Us, a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada project (2020-28) led by Dr Julie Nagam.

AOAULI, meaning midday in gagana Samoa, is part of a new series of mnemonic animated barkcloth, known as siapo viliata. The work comes to August 2020 from the ‘recent future’ of 2025 to explore relationships to time, space, pleasure, memory and knowledge.

Based on research into museum collections from around the world, AOAULI is a digital platform/online artwork that includes drawings of ancestral motifs, linework and animal/bird deities, a long form multilingual epic manifesto poem, and performance videos of shimmering, glistening bodies, also marked with ancestral aesthetics.

Devised as an open but reconstructed, decolonised archive from the ‘recent future’, following ‘the fall’ of this most recent pandemic, AOAULI will comprise new writing, moving image and animated drawings reflecting Eshraghi’s growing artistic engagement with Indigenous futurisms, data sovereignty, digital literacy, non-colonial/decolonial museology and citizen-driven cultural memory initiatives.

Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey – How much time do we have?
Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey are Melbourne-based audio artists who create unexpected situations for listening. Their work is driven by a curiosity about sound in culture and seeks to evolve and engage with new processes and audiences, through public interventions and participation.

Current areas of interest are the sound of existential risk, the audio agents of artificial intelligence in public space, and long form socially engaged public art interventions. Recent presentations include AsiaTopa, Melbourne; Setouchi Triennale, Japan; Theater Der Welt, Germany; Brighton Festival, UK; Sonica Festival, Glasgow; Asian Arts Theater, Gwangju; Perth Festival; MONA FOMA, Hobart; and ANTI Festival, Finland.

How much time do we have? is an audiovisual piece of breaks, flows, segments, junctures and shifts that is made during the timeless state of the present evernow. Generated live, visitors to the site experience a series of infinite process screens, either as a single screen or as a simultaneity.

The work employs only the most germinal materials – lines, points and simple polygons; sine tones in beating, harmonic and registral combination – and no intended sense of expectation or progression occurs. Rather, the work plays out like a suspended machine catatonia, offering moments of beauty, disturbance, a perpetually held tension and sense of hypnosis.

Amrita Hepi and Sam Lieblich – Neighbour
Amrita Hepi (born in Townsville of Bundjulung/Ngapuhi territories) is an artist working with dance and choreography through video, the social function of performance spaces, installation and objects. Utilising hybridity and the extension of choreographic and performative practices, Hepi creates work that considers the body’s relationship to personal histories and the archive. 

Sam Lieblich is neuroscientist, writer, and psychiatrist whose research focuses on the role of the brain in generating the sense of self and place. He works with linguistic and psychoanalytic conceptions of human subjectivity to try and address the scientism of neuroscience, and to explore the interaction/integration of the human subject and the algorithm.

A collaboration between Melbourne based artist/choreographer Amrita Hepi and neuroscientist/psychiatrist Sam Lieblich, Neighbour is a chatbot programmed to uncover the answer to the question how does it feel? Trained by conversational data taken from poetry, philosophy, popular music, and choreography in both written and visual form, Neighbour will analyse answers and give responses.

An algorithmic entity, pre-programmed with knowledge, conversation skills, historical references, empathy, flirting techniques, and access to the internet, this emotionally intelligent chatbot will engage the user in a conversation, responding with movement-based responses, attempting to locate the body, space and time between the user and the bot, highlighting the fallibilities/capabilities of both people and machines to answer an existential crisis.

Sean Peoples – OFFWORLD (working title)
Sean Peoples is a Melbourne-based artist who works in the fields of sculpture, painting, video, and digital art. His work brings together disparate elements using imitation, appropriation, and collage. Recently, he has been exploring ideas around home decor, politics, and the internet. He has exhibited in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Spain, France, Germany and India.

In addition to his solo practice, Peoples is also one half of The Telepathy Project, a collaboration formed in 2005 with artist Veronica Kent based on the possibilities of alternate forms of communication. He is represented by STATION, Melbourne and Sydney.

There is a popular belief that the ancient Greeks believed in a cosmological symmetry to the universe; a spherical, stationary Earth at the centre from which the Sun, Moon, and planets rotated. It followed that this symmetry would extend to the presence of two or more landmasses which would balance out the known habitable world. Without a southern land mass (or Australia as it was later named) it was thought an unbalanced Earth would topple over in a vast and unharmonious universe.

Expanding on this hypothesis of a skewed universe, Peoples will develop a virtual galaxy; employing a cosmological mise-en-scène to highlight the increased sense of imbalance and unease in the modern world. The protagonist of this work is a modified Earth (missing Australia), accompanied by a cast of other planets and celestial bodies in an “evolving” and surreal space drama.