ACMI announces new commissioning program for Australian artists

Stuck in the Middle With You - Film StillThe Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) has announced the $80,000 Mordant Family VR Commission for new works by Australian artists and filmmakers. Building on ACMI’s existing commissioning initiatives, this program heralds a new era of artist support at ACMI for emerging platforms.

In partnership with Catriona and Simon Mordant AM, the City of Melbourne and ACMI, the Commission invites visual artists to produce bold new and ambitious works using virtual reality (VR) and associated technology. Open to mid-career and established visual artists, the Mordant Family VR Commission supports gallery-based practitioners to move into VR, encouraging experimentation and enabling the creation of ambitious artworks that push the limits of technology to engage audiences in new ways.

Through these partnerships, ACMI is providing unique opportunities in contemporary Australian film practice with this commission. “ACMI is committed to supporting the development of screen based work and to making a difference to the creative industry ecology of our nation in this rapidly evolving arena,” said ACMI Director and CEO Katrina Sedgwick.

“Through these generous partnerships, each of the commissions support artists where funding is rarely available. These programs build on our rich commissioning history, and on the recently established ACMI X co-working space and lab. The Mordant Family VR Commission is a rare opportunity for visual artists to be supported to develop new work in this increasingly important and accessible new platform.”

“Virtual reality enables artists to extend their practice, to express their ideas and engage with audiences in entirely new ways.  In partnership with Catriona and Simon Mordant, and the City of Melbourne, this fund seeks to enable practitioners the opportunity to experiment and creatively harness these new VR tools.” added Katrina Sedgwick.

To be awarded annually, the Mordant Family VR Commission recipient will be granted $80,000 for the development and creation of a new work. Commissions will be selected by a panel of national and international industry experts including Rebecca Coates, Director of the Shepparton Art Museum; leading futurist, author, entrepreneur, Mark Pesce; ACMI Chief Experience Officer Seb Chan and ACMI Senior Curator Sarah Tutton. The panel will be co-chaired by Simon Mordant AM and ACMI CEO and Director Katrina Sedgwick.

“Catriona and I are delighted to partner with ACMI and the City of Melbourne in this groundbreaking partnership to annually commission a new virtual reality work. VR takes the arts experience to a new level creating an immersive engagement. This will further widen audience engagement with the arts,” said Simon Mordant AM.

In addition to financial support, the recipient of each commission will receive expert advice and support from ACMI in the development phase, as well as a work space in ACMI’s vibrant Southbank co-working studio for the screen industries, ACMI X. Ultimately, each work will be presented to the public and an edition accessioned into ACMI’s collection.

ACMI has proven itself an astute commissioner of new screen-based works, through the $100,000 biennial Ian Potter Moving Image Commission, supporting Angelica Mesiti’s The Calling (2014), Daniel Crooks’ Phantom Ride (2016) most recently awarded to Soda_Jerk, as well as through its exhibitions program which premiered commissioned works including Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto (2015) which played at Sundance to critical acclaim, and Yang Fudong’s The Coloured Sky: New Women II (2014).

More recently, ACMI has explored unchartered territory by commissioning works that transform live performance into VR experiences, expanding the possibilities of theatre, dance and puppetry through new technology. ACMI commissions have allowed leading practitioners to engage in cross-disciplinary collaborations with filmmakers.

In 2016, ACMI co-commissioned and premiered virtual reality experiences of Sandpit’s play Ghost, Toast and the Things Unsaid with Google Creative Lab and Grumpy Sailor, and Stuck in the Middle With You, an immersive dance experience by renowned choreographer Gideon Obarzanek and award-winning filmmaker Matthew Bate. In 2017, ACMI will premiere a third cross-disciplinary VR commission, Into the Prehistoric Aquarium by Sydney-based puppetry company Erth.

Applications for the Mordant Family VR Commission are open now and close Thursday 13 April 2017 – 5.00pm. For more information, and to apply, visit: for details.

Image: Stuck in the Middle With You (film still)