52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS
The world has seen dramatic change over the past decade; from the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the growing threat of climate change, to the rapid rise of gentrification, severe economic inequality and the decay of democratic transparency. Brexit, Trump and the rise of the alt-right inmany countries indicate that a ubiquitous leaning towards conservatism, nationalism and populism is growing. At the same time, communities worldwide have bonded together to protest for social and political change, challenging old structures of power in a new media world.
Instigated and curated by Artspace, Sydney, 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS was developed as a framework to respond to these current conditions and important concerns locally and globally. Highlighting artistic practice across Asia, and taking place simultaneously online and off, it is the first project of its kind staged in the region to date. Invited artists represent a wide spectrum of ethnicities and cultural backgrounds across Asia and the Pacific – everywhere from Bangladesh to Korea, Cambodia to Turkey, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville to the breadth of Australian communities.
52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS began with a yearlong online component running from January 2018 to January 2019 and,as the title suggests, engaged 52 artists and collectives to stage actions in unique, physical locations throughout the region and share them with global audiences on Instagram and online.
Each week for a year, a different artist drove the project, generating a continuously unfolding archive of creative responses to political and social issues central to each unique context. An action could be anything and everything used to express, communicate and build awareness and the 52 participants created a wide variety from performances and protests to collaborative workshops and experimental art-making. They had total freedom in what they chose to address and create as their action, and each had a unique approach – from the idea of an action to methods of adapting their practice to the Instagram format.
The exhibition brings this online project into the gallery to present each action that was imagined, developed and executed throughout the year. 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS serves as a living, accumulative archive of collective artistic action from across the region to expand on issues including activism, censorship, migration, gender politics and labour.
Image credits: 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS, Installation View, Artspace, Sydney. Images Courtesy the artists. Photo: Docqment.
52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS SYMPOSIUM, Saturday 20 July – Sunday 21 July
Artspace, in partnership with Asialink Arts and Asia Society Australia presents the 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS symposium. The symposium is designed to stimulate discussion, critical thinking and engagement with some of the most important issues explored in Artspace’s 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS project — censorship, activism, migration, labour, gender, and economies of power.
The two day event will bring together leading thinkers and artists from across the Asia-Pacific to shift perceptions and push the boundaries of conventional thought.
Image credits: 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS, Performance Program, Artspace, Sydney. Images Courtesy the artists. Photo: Anna Kucera.