Talking to the River - Conversational Curating in rural and regional Australia

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Embargoed until 2022-02-28
Copyright: Moncrieff, Abigail
In a rich and growing field of writing around socially engaged curatorial projects, the role and impact of these projects in rural and regional Australian communities remains under-examined. Australian research on creative activity in general has been characterised as susceptible to an “urban bias”, in which scholarship is dominated by a focus on work taking place in metropolitan contexts. This reflects the international discourse on socially engaged practice since the 1990s, which has highlighted its relationship to new genre public art and its ability to engage with urgent social issues or conditions, with attention primarily paid to urban contexts and communities. Curating socially engaged projects in regional or rural Australia necessitates a different kind of engagement, which offers rich possibilities for curatorial research. In this project, I have applied a model of ‘conversational curating’ to the decisions and processes of curatorial practice-based research in a regional Australian context. Conversational curating characterises the engagement between artist and curator, along with a spectrum of potential relationships, that include a network of locally embedded creative agents, which is crucial to curating in regional locations. My case study of Cementa 17 has helped illuminate the conditions for curating in rural and regional Australian contexts and inform key understandings brought into the practice component of my research. The practice component of my research consisted of a residency and exhibition, titled Sentient, at Murray Art Museum Albury; this project was realised with the Sydney- based artist James Nguyen and local communities living along the Murray River in the twin border cities of Albury- Wodonga. This project concerned people’s personal accounts of origins and migration, intertwined with the environmental and social complexities of the Murray River’s usage over time. Research in the process of curating Sentient has explored duration as a key part of the conditions of making; this allows for a cumulative and dynamic engagement with place and communities—a specific requirement of rural and regional curating. My research uncovers some of the specific challenges and opportunities of working in rural and regional settings and demonstrates an effective curatorial approach that prioritises collaboration and relationship building through dialogue.
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Moncrieff, Abigail
Muller, Lizzie
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download public version.pdf 2.75 MB Adobe Portable Document Format
download AM002-Sentient-Publication-56pp-HIRES.pdf 18.07 MB Adobe Portable Document Format
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