MAV arts are the creative outcomes of MAV Projects featuring artists and communities of colour.
Yo Soy Collective
This is a research and development project that explores the Latin American diaspora’s impact on the Victorian arts scene. The project will assist in uncovering reasons for the lack of Latin American representation and participation in the wider arts scene, find new approaches to support artists further their creative careers, which may lead to increased representation, and further establish Yo Soy collective as a primary organisation for the development of Latin American contemporary arts. A major outcome of the project was to develop a website that served as a resource for the community to stay connected through event updates and an artist directory. Yo Soy worked with Dr. Laura Rodriguez Castro, a research fellow at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University, to conduct a thorough research report to capture the Latin American creative experience in Melbourne. The collective also worked with Veronica Pardo to develop a strategic plan and establish governance policies, which will support to establish Yo Soy as a concrete arts and community organisation.
"This is my sequel from my first short film ‘Grey' for the Victorian Multicultural Commission. I explored the idea of the personal journey of surviving lockdown and how I made meaning from the loss of paid work and loss of being a ‘young adult.’ This second short film Yellow follows the experimental and semi-abstract tone from Grey. Yellow tries to capture ‘resilience’ and an ‘energy’ of our childhood youthful days that we have lost. Using my dad’s recording from his old handy-cam, my impromptu daily routine of playing instruments in my room and my sudden urges of self-reflection, I attempt to encapsulate the power of our own ‘self,’ our home routine that can provide some grounding, certainty and foundation in this ever-changing landscape of society. Yellow is a message for young adults to reflect, remember, return, rebuild and reconnect to what is important to our internal values, our ancestors ways and what is in front of us that we may have forgotten pre-COVID days. Yellow is an energy to move again, once again."
"The artwork presented aims to explore the notion of going somewhere, unstucking oneself or changing perspectives through getting lost. Whether it is through thought, movement or even experiences, our mind can be tickled to the diversity of our surroundings and senses. 'Atas' takes us on a journey, with some direction, to see what is out there and maybe to try something new ourselves. Using the cardinal directions, and aspects of mythology with a sprinkling of psychedelia we have created digital illustrations to tell a story that leads our character, up, and out of place of not knowing." As artists, creators and experiencers, we aim to discover new things all the time, sometimes learning about something new, remembering what was forgotten and most importantly, to feel. The chance to create work, learn and be part of Ahead of the Curve which is such a valuable program alongside other amazing creatives has been dimension shifting and life changing. Influenced by mythology, legend and the stories that are told, Amicus Atman works to construct cross dimensional and highly immersive artwork while interrogating the constantly evolving circumstances. Coding NFT's while constructing Wayang Kulit, making spicy meals and playing with interactive projection art are all part of the creative process that Amicus uses. As a South-East Asian creative, they are committed to staying true to their ancestral history, respecting tradition and looking to the future, while navigating current realities of living in colonized space.
This series from Liminal, guest-edited and introduced by Panda Wong, features work by Eric Jiang, Mo Chamas, Munira Tabassum Ahmed, Raag Bhatia, Tanya Wong, and Xen Nhà. Read more on www.liminalmag.com/sanctuary
Rahel Davies and Wintana Kidane
Bittersweet and Bittersweet Talks is dedicated to highlighting and celebrating the stories of accomplished and inspirational people of colour in Australia. As part of the project, we produced 6 pieces of work, 5 of which were part of the Bittersweet talk segment.
Indian Care's Project SASS and Wellbeing aims to support the social and emotional wellbeing of South Asian International Students in Melbourne. It is a student-led co-design project will develop and deliver culturally appropriate, evidence-based strategies to facilitate and foster connections with each other and the community by providing a safe space to share their stories. The creative workshops offered participants an opportunity to develop creative, communication and technology skills, assisting with job readiness skills and over all support for emotional wellbeing during a challenging time post COVID-19 lockdowns. The overall objective of this project was to build resilience by connecting the South Asian international students with each other and the diaspora to increase their social capital using the medium of creative art. The project offered free workshops in podcasting creation with facilitators Ayan Shirwa and Karina Aedo, and understanding power structures with Dr. Priya Srinivasan.
No Compass is shared space between Asian Australian Studies Research Network; It’s Not a Compliment; Peril Magazine; Teh Cha; and Writing Through Fences. No Compass builds on the idea of “diaspora as methodology”, deploying diaspora as a political verb rather than administrative noun, to challenge the idea that diverse communities are “hard to reach”, instead considering them “easy to love” and challenging the justice of health, social, community and other systems. Neither “about the virus”, nor “not about the virus”, No Compass invites perspectives that engage with race, culture and the contemporary challenges of navigating Australian identity in the context of COVID-19, showcasing the lived reality of “Australian” communities, reflecting their dignified, complex and nuanced experiences, their self-defined identities and histories.
Triumph Over Adversity is a digital series by Pasifika TOA featuring Victorian-based youth, of diverse backgrounds, who chose to share their real-life stories in order to raise social awareness, promote cultural understanding and support youth expression. Moreover, amid a Covid affected world, Triumph Over Adversity is a youth outreach initiative that connects our youth and community together. All who participated in this series did so with the hope that their story may help others who may be going through similar experiences.
Camp Mana and the scheduled time it was meant to run, fell victim to COVID and the recidivism of its young participants. However, a contingency plan was made to develop, produce and deliver an engaging online program despite the circumstances. To grand success, a productive online program was delivered over 14 days, with daily mentorship, creative writing workshops, music soundtrack development, filmmaking and photography. Camp Mana (Online) shape-shifted into a short film project we have called 'Unlocked', a collaboration and collection of anonymous stories, poetry and spoken word from BIPOC youth who have been in and out of the justice system. Unlocked has now inspired a long-term film and music production to capture young peoples stories over the next few years.
Ana Maria Gomides
claustrofobia is about the refusal to forget the violence perpetrated on my ancestors for my skin to reach its lightness. It’s about reminding myself and others that white colonisers failed in their calculated attempt to erase entire races of people, while the world at large encourages us to forget. re-telling our histories and stories is an act of defiance.
Matisse Laida + Nisha Hunter
We Eatin’ Good! Is a collaborative food and cooking platform dedicated to amplifying young Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. With a focus on highlighting QPoC creatives, both on and off-screen, we aim to uplift the diverse community we as the curators of the platform are a part of.
Cancion de despedida, the song chosen to create this piece of work is an intimate and personal experience, which tells my story of love, farewell, letting go and moving on. It is the story of a woman having to overcome a rupture, a loss, being away from home. It is a story of resilience that I needed to tell through image as well as music. and movement, as I wanted to express the feeling with my whole body and create a real ritualistic experience of healing and empowerment. The song itself is a South American rhythm which mixes elements of the Chilean cueca and Argentinean Chacarera, since the moment I decided to produce a video, I had the idea of including the dance and the handkerchief as a symbolism of my own culture. With the director (Gabriela Gonzalez), and the choreographer (Kathleen Gonzalez) we explored the ideas of different and symbolic ways of saying good bye to a loved one. Through empowerment, movement, and specific elements of my own culture in the clothing, accessories and choreography. We had weekly meetings with Kathleen Gonzalez (choreographer) to produce the choreography, we studied the elements of the "Cueca" and the "Chacarera" dance, we created our own version of them and incorporated contemporary movements. We decided to use the hood and handkerchief symbols as a way of representing the "letting go" and "liberation" feelings. With Gabriela Gonzalez (director), we had weekly meetings to decide the location (Blue lake in Bundoora) and work on the script, the story, the outfits, the art. Gabriela and I share a strong connection with my story, and we knew what we wanted to express, therefore it was easy to make decisions. Neisha Smith did a fantastic work in creating the outfits and having an incredible input in the art of the project. The rest of the production team did an amazing work in understanding the needs of the work, the expectations and the sentiment in general. I am very thankful of every single person involved in this project. This work exceeded all my expectations, I am incredible grateful for receiving the support to create this beautiful piece of art. This project gave me healing, a voice, a space and opened so many new doors in my artistic career. I am extremely happy to be one of the artists of AHEAD OF THE CURVE program and have this extra support to exhibit my work alongside many other amazing local artists. Its so important for us independent artists to have this spaces and opportunities. Thanks to MAV and my amazing team for making this possible and believing in my art.
This project is aimed to bring back the focus on simple pleasures and findings in life that can restore mindfulness and harmony. During the pandemic, we were stuck in the house for months with no hope of what the future awaited and the only thought most of us had was freedom. The home provided us with the shelter we needed, the shelter of comfort and protection however the desperation to go out in the world was so extreme. We struggled to meet our loved ones, go on a picnic, enjoy a toastie at a local cafe or go shopping. The news said it could take weeks for the lockdown to be lifted as COVID cases were multiplying rapidly. And so were mental health, depression and anxiety issues. People felt stranded and locked in their safest havens. I realised that the repercussion of the pandemic made people unsee the many things in and around our house that constantly thrives in making our lives happy and comfortable. Every corner of our homes has a story to tell, every piece of decoration we have installed has a process of planning behind it, every random object narrates a memory and every part of that favourite pillow moulds towards ensuring a good night's sleep. And yet we complained and complained that it was getting impossible to stay home. This photography project captures the untold stories of the many objects that our home contains and inspires the audience to take a moment and cherish the voices of the lifeless world and their relationships with its residents. We often forget to value what we have and understand what matters; we tend to focus on what we don't have and forget to embrace the existence of big-little items around the house that make us feel at home. What would our rooms look like without these items? What if you wake up and find those objects vanished from the shelf? What if they just walk away from your life because you didn’t care enough?
I created EATING THE OTHER as a response to the oppressive structures of the world we live in- to reflect the complicated realities of navigating this world as an immigrant and woman of colour. I wanted to explore the damaging reality of racial micro-aggressions; of death by a thousand cuts. And most importantly, I wanted to centre a Brown female perspective on these topics in an unfiltered and honest way- for once, not trying to be palatable to the world around me, but to resist and speak my truth honestly.
"‘salmon cannon me into the abyss’ is a poetry EP made in collaboration with Felicity Yang, Hannah Wu, Jamie Marina Lau and Lei Lei Kung. Dedicated to my dad, who died in 2017, it features four tracks that piece together moments, scenes and sensations of grief and loss. I wrote my poems in fragments—on my Notes app, receipts, scraps of paper, work documents, text messages, emails to myself. I recorded my poems by speaking into a microphone through a stocking stretched over a hanger, or on my geriatric iPhone. Vocal processing changed my voice into new impressions and textures. Found sounds reference both the precious and banal, such as pearl extraction, orchestra tuning, cicadas, a clicking mouse and shimmering. I felt a sense of release in sending my recordings away to my friends, for them to return as something new. Catharsis crystallised into something else."
"The pandemic has been a very difficult time for all of us, we have been through moments of sadness, uncertainty, anger and hopelessness. Some of us are far away from our homes, and the pandemic made it hard to create a sense of belonging. I connected with some friends virtually and our conversations made me think about how each of us was experiencing something different during the lockdown and we also were trying to look after ourselves and stay positive. I decided that I wanted to document the experiences of women of colour because there was a common ground, being migrant or having migrant parents and also, speaking a language different from English and living in a multicultural city like Melbourne. My creative process consisted on interviewing these women asking them to share their experiences, to share how they take care of themselves during the lockdowns, also if they wanted to share a tip for self-care, and a recipe for something they enjoyed eating or drinking during that time. Additionally, I asked for a photo which in some cases I took and in other cases they send it to me. After having this information I started to create the illustrations based on the photos of each woman and lastly designed the book including the artwork and the information they shared."
"what it's like to be left is a short film about what it's like to lose someone you love during the pandemic. Losing loved ones is always hard - and it's weirder when you're attending funerals over Zoom or when people end relationships for no clear reason and you're stuck within the same walls during a 5km lockdown. I was ashamed of how I felt-- mourning a private loss while the world as we know it is ending, while other people are enduring harder oppressions, can feel indulgent. But all griefs need to be faced before they can be survived. Making this film was my way of honouring and exploring intense feelings that were killing me, that I felt were inappropriate to share even with people closest to me. I've done heaps of TikTok videos, YouTube videos, Instagram stories and lives - but this is my first proper short film. I shot this film on my smartphone. Aside from the North Melbourne train shots, all the clips were filmed within my 5km radius. I composed the soundtrack in Ableton, and recorded sounds from around my neighbourhood. I aimed for a cinematic art-film aesthetic using lo-fi methods. I did the jobs that most film productions hire large teams to do. I've never attended art school or film school. Aside from the MAV filmmaking and sound workshops, and a couple of Ableton workshops I attended outside the Ahead of the Curve program, I taught myself everything through trial and error. I'm grateful to MAV for the opportunity to experiment and try new things with my creative practice."
Disabled people of colour, queer people of colour, poor people of colour, migrant people of colour, and undocumented people of colour felt the full brunt of structural racism during the pandemic. A lack of adequate and inclusive services left many in homelessness, poverty and distress. It was a time when scarcity put everyone on edge and gaps within government support programs were made clear. But communities of colour are resilient, creative, and tenacious. People of colour came together to practise mutual aid, for each other. These efforts built solidarity, created safety nets, and fostered love across communities. It showed that another world is possible - a world built on grassroots over bureaucracy, abundance over scarcity, love over shame. "My piece features words from some of the mutual aid groups that inspired me during the pandemic. These were the Anti-Colonial Asian Alliance of Kulin Nations, the Disability Justice Network, and Undocumented Migrants Solidarity. I selected these quotes for their representation of the politics behind mutual aid that distinguishes it from charity, as well as the radical love at its core that challenges capitalistic self-preservation." This artwork depicts hope and abundance as a testament to the work of mutual aid. However, the context of this work is not a happy one. It is the abandonment and cruelty of the colonial state against which communities of colour continually struggle. This piece is indeed a celebration of people of colour, but it is also one tinged with inevitable grief.
Jiānchí is an immersive experience telling a story about an immigrant’s perseverance using Augmented Reality (AR). "As background, I came to Australia in 2015 with the hopes of a better future. Throughout my time here, I’ve seen many Asian immigrants being discriminated, stereotyped, and facing many obstacles to achieve their dreams in Australia. However, most immigrants have shown a great deal of patience, purpose and perseverance to overcome all odds against them. The beauty of using AR as the medium to convey my art is due to its immersive and expansive nature, allowing the audience to be in an immigrant’s shoes, navigating through the imaginary boundaries and obstacles set up in front of them, while seeing others breeze through effortlessly to arrive at the same destination in the end." Jiānchí encourages the audience to see Asian immigrants beyond pre-conceived stereotypes, celebrating their diverse background and utmost resilience in pursuing a better future for themselves. The word Jiānchí comes from the Chinese pronunciation of 坚持, which means persevere.
Sometimes you don't have to travel far to remember the feeling of HOME. "When I was creating HOME I wanted to create an alternative and positive way to look at what being at home meant. Everyone was eager to be outside more, after being in our homes for a long period of time due to the lockdowns, and I wanted to shift the focus on what HOME could mean. To create an in-depth storyline of HOME, I looked to music from Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa for inspiration. I listened to stories from Family and watched dance videos from Friends back in Zimbabwe to remind myself of what Home was like. In Melbourne, I looked at the dance community I was involved in and how I connected to new people using Afro Dance. I discussed Jamaican culture and dance with Chuby Dice to find similarities that connected us. We not only found similarities in dance moves but in how we connected to people around us through dance, no matter the age or other differences. We also found that people in Melbourne connected to our dance styles because they are social dance, anyone can get involved. Through this process, HOME was created. A short dance film that focuses on two dancers who navigate their way through life during the Lockdowns. The dancers use Afro Dance and Dancehall to share their experiences and help each other find hope, community and the feeling of HOME again in their everyday lives."
Anne Hsuyin, Abdul ‘Min’ Muhaimin
Growing up, I was always told that my country didn't have the right opportunities for me, that I would need to find a home away from home to thrive or wither otherwise. For years, I did my best in school so I could leave my old home – and then for years, I did my best to build a new home for myself here in Melbourne. Is here really home? Will I get to stay here? 'Home?' is a snapshot of the emptiness, loneliness, and uncertainty that surrounds my experience of migration and creating a space for myself as an international student.
Grace Quiason, Michelle Nguyen
"ec/h/o/er/ro/r is an 8 minute experimental audio-video work focussing on vivid imagery and subconscious meaning through reworking and merging analogue and digital media. The work features digitally glitched and processed content from sources such as tape audio recordings, footage shot on Super 8 film, and archival family videos. In our collaborative and personal processes we are investigating diaspora identity, community and intergenerational memory. Themes of nostalgia, glitch, and abstraction convey a shifting mood and overall encapsulation of memory and culture, with its complex but relatable ambiguity. Our work looks at intergenerational memory in the context of marginalised people creating culture and community in resistance to (or glitching) the structures of white supremacy and binarism. Glitch is our point of interest for this work as it ruptures and disobeys commands in order to hold space for authenticity created from multiplicity, possibility, and narratives of resilience in diaspora communities. It has been a special opportunity for us to be part of Ahead of the Curve and explore, contribute to, and celebrate diaspora culture within an artist community."
“Conquering the Demons” is the creative development of a programmatic work that is designed to musically exhibit an artist’s mental struggles in life, especially in the context of this pandemic. If the emotions of depression and anxiety were recorded and programmed as sounds, what will it sound like? Can such a narrative be portrayed musically? To what extent can Indian Classical Instruments be coerced to create sounds that depict disease, unease, uncertainty and chaos? These are the questions we seek to answer through this project.
"Becomes is an exploration of self. It’s an intimate moment of self discovery in nature, taking and holding my own space in my own body. The piece allows the viewer into a moment of care, love and kindness as I shed the expectations of how my trans body moves through the wold. Originally part of a comedic piece, through therapy, coaching and the stars aligning I realised I needed to hold space in my own body without using my body as a punchline. I have been supported and guided by Sapidah Kian in reconnecting to my body as a dancer/mover to fully take ups space and release the burdens society has put upon me. The cinematographer, Adam Lee, held space for me to explore, giving me full agency in this moment. He provided a space between us of voyeur and participant and captured a part of my beauty I didn’t realise existed."
Reverberation is a series of digital illustrations representing the complex emotions and inner conversations young people of colour are having during the pandemic. "I explored new techniques using high contrast colours with organic, curvy lines to create visual patterns and form the human silhouette. These wavy lines symbolise the reverberation of self-expression to the outer world. Inner thoughts and self reflections are illustrated through the eyes inside. These illustrations show how young people carried themselves differently through the pandemic world while navigating their own identity journey."
Ali Diri (Come Here) is an immersive space composed of resin sculptures, spoken word poetry, music, soundscape, online booklet, curated smells, UV/Invisible painting and UV light interaction.
Below The Surface
"We wanted to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to exploring various taboo topics in our communities. Creatively, we challenged ourselves to tap into diverse art-forms. Between the three of us, we produced a **musical track, visual art piece and a filmed conversation**.
"Sunshowers don't make sense to me but they are. We can experience rain and sun at the same time on our bodies. I was reading a book on 'double sensations' in Footscray waiting for a bubble tea and the work arrived at me. I hope Sunshower is a gentle entry to unpack one's own cultural intersectionality through self massage and touch."
Ammumma’s House is part autobiography and part dream. It explores the ways in which magic and the surreal can bloom into our everyday lives through the story of Anamika, a young woman reflecting on her relationship to her grandmother and the culture she left behind. "It is driven by my personal mission to interrogate the tired notion of culture and tradition being a burden, something that limits our horizons and something we have to leave behind in order to ‘get ahead’ in a white supremacist patriarchal world. The central theme of the piece is the resilience and healing that can come from embracing our heritage. This message is particularly pertinent for young people of colour today, who rarely see stories where CALD communities are sources of pride and protection."
The musical part of Zakir’s work is an instrumental rendition of the traditional Afghan folk song Sar Zameen e Man, which he performs on the rubab. The song’s original lyrics allude to the pain of losing your home country, becoming a refugee, and witnessing the destruction of one’s beloved homeland. It voices helplessness and sadness of these things happening beyond their control. Zakir was moved to create this work when he saw current footage of the destruction of musical instruments and dismantling of women’s right to education and basic freedoms by the Taliban in Afghanistan. He wanted to show what is happening in his home country in his own way by combining his love for music and interest in digital art.
This hand-drawn animation uses two photos of Noor and her sister to show how she finds inner strength through her Islamic beliefs to counteract the societal pressures of living as a young Muslim woman in western culture. Through prayer and remembering God, Noor finds peace, calm and acceptance of the harsh words and aggressive attitudes people of colour often face, even in the towns and countries, they are born.
Shanikwa has contributed to the Duniya Behter project by creating a song called “Window Seat” about her experience during COVID. She says, “It’s about a time I had to spend in isolation and shows how I felt but, I also know that’s how many people have felt and for some people it’s their everyday life”. Her voice gently dances with beautiful harmonies over an acoustic guitar and percussion based song in this stunning debut.
Jonathan Safari AKA Yungkily
Have you ever felt stuck in your own world? A place where you feel alone and no matter how much you try to voice it out no one seems to hear you? It's like you're stuck in a room full of people but still feel alone. Then you feel like giving up. Well, I've been there, and you're not alone. I'm with you. I'm not afraid of being myself. I'm not afraid of singing out loud. I'm not afraid of dancing on the streets. I'm not afraid of telling the truth. And my voice, "You'll hear me."
KibbZ (Jai Atkinson)
"I'm excited to share my song "Trapped" with everyone as it shares some of my more personal thoughts and how I have felt these last few years during covid. As well as how I would like to see the next few years look for me and my community."
"My work is a reflection of my experience and how my family helped me push through my final year of studies despite setbacks from Covid-19. I've always liked comics and digital drawing art styles, hence I've decided to attempt these styles for my project. However, since I wanted to make it more engaging for the audience, I've decided to make the drawing into a mini motion video to explore my personal experience."
"The last two years have been really hard for all of us. What has been hardest for me though, was my little brother getting really sick at the beginning of the pandemic and having to go and live in Melbourne for a year while he got treatment. Worrying about my brother, being separated from him and my Mum, having to change schools, missing old friends and home. Often I’ve felt like I couldn’t talk about my struggles because what my brother has gone through, seems so much worse."
Mercan’s digital drawing tells the story of her relationship with her mother, which has been affected by generational trauma and the friction many children of immigrants are familiar with growing up in a culture vastly different from what their parents know. She hopes people realise that in her experience, parents love their kids no matter what even if they may not know how to show it very well.
Lah Eh Soe
"My song, My Love, is about making promises to a loved one and them being the only one you love forever. I wrote it with my friend, Pwayz and we had fun making this song. I'm very happy to share this with MAV and everyone."
This work is based on a spoken word piece by Jay about his own experiences with depression and loneliness. By sharing his story of vulnerability with such courage, Jay hopes to let others going through similar things know that they are not alone.
Nargis has created a poetic video work about the loneliness of the pandemic. It is a way of reaching out to others who she knows must be out there, who went through similar things. This work is a vessel for communicating vulnerable, lived experiences that she hopes more people can be brave enough to talk about and be listened to with compassion and understanding.
Po Tu Tu
"The project that I was doing is about Karen Traditional Weaving, about how we weave and how we traditionally make our clothes. It is very important for us because it is a heritage that we learned from our great grandparents and we want to keep alive by teaching our younger generation. I am hoping my video will be shared amongst wider communities so other people can learn of our tradition and how unique our style and process is."
Nadia and Yvette Niyubushobozi
Nadia and Yvette have developed a podcast series exploring issues around friendship and peer pressure, trying to guide people to create the change they’d like to see in the world by forming strong, enriching friendships. These podcasts feature the sisters in conversation, sharing their own incredible experiences with personal struggles and offering insight into different types of friendships. Their hope is for this work to help others choose the right people to keep in their lives, empowering them to make their own decisions and make themselves the priority. For Nadia and Yvette, a better world is a world in which people know how to be a good friend, supporting and helping others instead of leading them astray.
Aryo Hall, Shirin Shakhesi
Stemming from age old Javanese poetry, this heartfelt musical piece creates the backdrop to a Persian contemporary animation. The slow days of lockdown allowed us to reflect on our respective childhoods, reflections usually drowned out by the fast pace of the modern day.
A FEMININE CONVERSATION is a space where I converse with diverse women and hear their stories with an open mind. It means so much to be part of Dunyia Behter, as connecting with my culture through this commission has opened so many doors for me. I am very excited to share this commission with the world, and for everyone to hear the stories of the women that I spoke with.
Inspired by my experiences of lockdown, I’ve created movement on film that represents my own exploration of words that come in a form of a poem. The poem is about breath and how, through my own journey, I had taken it for granted and helped me to overcome isolation. “To breathe is a necessity, is a luxury.” Words that I wrote down during the first lockdown, which was at the same time as the 2020 fires and still are so relevant to this day.
Nesian Blue have contributed to the Duniya Behter Project to write a song called ‘Can We Talk’ about their experience through COVID lockdowns. “We wanted to express what mental health meant to us as Polynesians. We understand traditions and expectations which play a part in our mental health. During covid, our mental health was affected badly, but there was one thing that kept us thriving, and that was God. Through God we overcame our struggles and all we had to do was call out. All we had to do was talk to him, ask for his guidance and that's exactly what we got. He answered our prayers. This song gives us strength in whatever we do. It helps us remember that in tough times we can always turn to God.”
"My video is based on the flower and the human it’s about the 'circle of life' and reflects everyone being born, getting old and dying, just like the flower. I am really excited to be part of Duniya Behter because I am learning so many things, like creative technical skills and connecting with other cultures, learning and get more ideas from other young people as well."
We have overcome many challenges to adapt to the Australian way of life and the way we eat here. In Iraq, we eat only breakfast and dinner but here we have adopted to the routine of three meals a day.
This compilation is a collection of work submitted by people who were part of the MESS Recovery Residencies program in 2021-2022, delivered in partnership with Multicultural Arts Victoria and Liquid Architecture. All tracks are self-produced by the artists. The program and this compilation were made possible with the support of the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria. MESS would also like to thank our supporting partners Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, City of Melbourne and the Meat Market Studio Program. LP artwork by Angie Penna-Li.
Janette Hoe, Ria Soemardjo, Mindy Meng Wang, Takashi Takiguchi
Agak-Agak is a playful reminisce on Ria, Mindy and my relationship with our grandmothers and the collective, fragmented details of our memories.
“We recorded 2 of my original’s compositions and performed in a trio format with two talented musicians, Amla Periakarpan in the flute and Rodolfo Despaigne “Panga” in the congas. “Vagabundeando”, a gentle bossa-nova that talks about finding your life purpose and the journey you need to take to find this purpose, and “Traigo un son” an optimistic song inspired by the rhythms and textures of Cuban music. I’m truly grateful to be part of this new season of UpClose, it’s not only a great opportunity to share my music and represent my culture and country but also to gain exposure and contribute to the multicultural arts scene in Melbourne. I had a great time shooting with Harmonic Whale and MAV team at the iconic Preston Market, they made me feel very comfortable, and enjoyed every minute.”
Camille El Feghali
“My performance includes a variety of folk and classical songs coming from different parts of the middle east (SWANA region). We showcase these diverse and rich cultures in a contemporary way, while staying faithful to the features that make it sound unique, through the use of microtones, odd time signatures, and Taqsims (improvisations). The instruments include: Qanun (Arabic harp), Nay (Arabic flute) and Derbuka/Riq (percussions). What I love about being part of UpClose is that I get to represent my musical heritage in a program that includes various musicians who perform different styles of music to be appreciated by everyone. The engagement with people in public places such as Preston markets was a highlight for me as I got to meet people from my own culture who showed their appreciation as well as people from different backgrounds who asked me lots of questions about it.”
“I really enjoyed being able to perform at the market and introducing my instrument and culture to so many different kinds of people. It was really nice seeing people of all walks of life and ages just coming up to me and listening, asking me all sorts of questions about my musical journey. Being a local resident of Preston, I am always going to the Preston market for my daily needs. I think the market is such a great place to catch up with friends, and just to see how diverse and rich the community in the area is. It is such a vital place for the community to come together.”
The New Monos
“For us, being a part of UpClose 2022 is an honour; sharing music with our local audience and coworkers is what we have missed the most last couple of years. In addition, this allows us to break the stereotypes about Latin people only playing Salsa. We have lived in Darebin for 10 years, and we are happy to see live music events, especially in the Preston Market. We felt so welcome in the Preston Market, a lot of people stopped to listen to the band and watch the performance, asking questions about where we are from and about the instruments. The songs we played were super relaxed, acoustic-style fitting the market creating a nice atmosphere for us to play comfortably and feel welcome.”
My table is special to me because when I make food this is the time I get to sit down with my family.
Food means a great deal in our family and plays a very important part in our culture and community. In Samoa, no one eats alone. We do not cook small meals, we cook for everyone and we all eat together.
Since moving to Australia, the way we cook and eat has changed a lot. In Australia. I have tried very hard to involve my husband and my children in cooking meals but back in my country, the mother or wife only would cook.
“I love to cook. I love sharing my food with my friends and neighbours, my community because I feel happy when people enjoy my food."
Fakamaloía he polokalama Shepparton Culture Kitchen, he ngaahi faingamalie kuo ne ómai kia te au mo hoku famili óu lava ai ke vahevahe hoku úlungaanga faka-fonua
Ree is a young Fijian-Croatian woman who was exposed to a wide variety of different cultures from a young age through her mother’s missionary work in Brisbane. Ree also lived in Uganda for some time, where she learned to cook things like nsenene (grasshopper) and fufu with her grandparents.
FlatMates was collated as a response to the 9-tower lockdown of 2020 in North Melbourne and Flemington.
Art is an expression of one’s own life, it is a journey of self-discovery loaded with emotions. These images are the culmination of emotions I have encountered since the 9Tower Lockdown over a year ago.
The hard lockdown was a difficult and confusing time for me and triggered some bad memories and feelings from my past. I wrote this song on the second day of lockdown when I almost felt as if we wouldn’t get out alive!
Geskeva Komba, Ez Eldin Deng, Ras-Samuel Welda’abzgi
BLVCK GOLD is a short film and fictional story of amateur athlete, Tino, who uses running as a way to escape from old wounds but they come back and haunt him after a childhood friend gives him a mystery object.
KidDave, Khaled Abdulwahab
Trapped Inside is a hip-hop/rap song aimed at exposing the effects that the covid-19 lockdowns have had on the community – “from the east to the west, from the north to the south”.
Khaled Abdulwahab , TruSoule
The song, How we feel, came from a collective expressionist point of view from my peers and community’s experiences during last years harsh lockdown of the housing estates in Flemington and North Melbourne.
Khaled Abdulwahab , Nada Osman, CYNDYCUT
Barricaded In is a spoken word piece I wrote describing the treatment of the residents of the 9 towers lockdown.
Thirty1, Khaled Abdulwahab
When I heard that the Shelter 2 project is collaborating with local creatives. I decided to submit the beat I made during the lockdown.
When I heard the news that North Melbourne and Flemington were in a lockdown my heart started to beat.
“I created this recording because during the hard lockdown we weren’t notified and only had one hour’s notice before our freedom was taken away. No time to prepare. We didn’t have enough food to eat at home and it made us feel like we were in prison. I want other people to know what it was like for us during this time and how it affected our mental health and our wellbeing.”
“My piece brings to light the barriers that minority groups face brought on by structural inequality."
Connected is a series of illustrations that document moments of solidarity I have experienced and witnessed during the events of hard lockdown.
Haniyah Abdou Said
After experiencing the hard lock down, I challenged the thoughts and feelings of the others around me as well as myself into this artwork.
“My name is Sara Zakaria. Home is in Sudan and now, Australia since 2004. When my son was born in 2006 I made Australia my permanent home. I look after my son, take him to school and soccer and keep busy with my friends. I work in Moonee Valley cooking my sweets and different kinds of foods. I became part of this project because I wanted to share my cooking, especially my sweets, which everyone likes. The lockdown was very bad for me, just sitting at home and I couldn’t go out. Talking with my friends and family on the phone helped me get through that time. I’m here to help people with food, sweets and cooking anytime!”
“My name is Huida Omer. Home is in Sudan and for the past 20 years I’ve made Australia home. Australia is a good country for education and health and good for living. You can find good jobs as long as you have a qualification. The main thing that keeps me busy is my 3 children, I have 3 girls. In 2018 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and spent a year in intensive treatment. Since then I have to rest a lot but it’s important for me to stay connected with my friends and that’s why I’ve joined the Shelter 2 project. The hard lockdown, at first I felt sad and it felt unfair that we were the only ones being locked down like this in Melbourne. But later when I realized that there were some families here in the flats with COVID, I was glad that we were locked down like this. We all share the same facilities and live close together and I was worried because my own immune system and one of my daughter’s immune system is not 100%. We stayed home for 5 days and spent the time watching the news and finding out more about what’s happening and understanding the pandemic. There were people helping us and bringing food so it was okay in the end.”
“My name is Ruth Eyakem. I was born and raised in Ethiopia but I am from Eritrea. I came to live in Australia 28 years ago because of war in my home country, to look for a better life. I live in the Flemington high rise with my lovely daughter. We speak English and Arabic. I love cooking, my job is waitressing and I love hosting and serving people. I chose to be part of Shelter 2 because the hard lockdown was very stressful and I wanted to share how I passed through that time. When I first heard about the 5 day lockdown on the news I went quickly to buy medication that I need for stress and anxiety. I had none left at home but they would not let me out of the building and said they would bring us everything we needed. It never came and that was hard for me. But I had my traditional coffee ceremony and this became so important. During the lockdown I did it everyday with my daughter. It helped me pass the time, helped to calm my nerves. It gave me a good feeling of having my friends and family around me and kept me calm. My coffee ceremony was my medicine.”
“My name is Awatif Taha. Home is Sudan and for the past 20 years, Australia. I like Australia for its humanity, rights, education, health and job opportunities. I work and volunteer my time with my community across different fields, but especially with women and kids. I’m involved in running a homework club and working with the Multicultural Sudanese Centre where we have provided women with certified training in commercial cooking. A big project I’m involved in at the moment is Mum’s Kitchen which developed through co-design with Moonee Valley City Council. Mum’s Kitchen is for women from different African backgrounds to build skills and confidence for them to access employment opportunities in aged care, child care and hospitality and to create their own business which might also support employment of other women in the community. During the hard lockdown I was so busy working with different organisations and DHHS, door knocking to get information to people, ask them what they needed and link them to services to make sure their needs were met. I especially helped with new arrivals and old women who needed extra support. I also did some media interviews on radio about our situation and I wrote an article that was published in The Guardian. For the Shelter 2 project I have brought together 7 other women from different African backgrounds who live in the high-rises, to share our recipes and eat together and it’s been amazing. For us it’s not only about sharing our food but also about us having confidence and affirming our value in the community.”
“My name is Halima Ahmed. Home is Eritrea and since 1999 I’ve been living in Australia. I like everything about Australia especially the education and it’s a beautiful country. I have my family here so it’s good for me. I’m a very busy woman, I have five grown up children and two grandchildren. I’m working now with Mum’s Kitchen cooking and also as a cleaner at the child care centre. I have lots of nice and friends and also look after my mother. For the Shelter 2 project, I’ve been able to share with other African women. It’s been especially a good opportunity for mum’s who work hard at home to tell our stories. Often we don’t get the chance to tell our stories, and no one asks us and often no one listens, but every mother has a story. The hard lockdown, it was very hard for us and maybe they did it too quickly and we didn’t have time to prepare. But it was important for our health and to protect us because we live very close to each other here in the flats, using the same lifts, using the same laundry as other families. We also have a lot of old people and vulnerable people in our community here so it was important that we protect each other.”
“My name is Emebet Asfaw, people call me Amy. Home is Ethiopia and I’ve been living in Australia for over 20 years now. Now Australia is my home. I like the freedom and peace here. I used to work in hospitality and I keep busy now by cooking and looking after my kids. Vegan cooking is my specialty and my recipes are popular. Every month I have a stall at the Vegan Market in Richmond selling my food. During the hard lockdown I was worried about COVID and spent my time researching a lot of different foods and the vitamins they contain and their benefits to protect my family’s health. The lockdown was a very damaging experience and really increased anxiety levels. I worry about what’s going to happen next.”
“My name is Leila Ali. Somalia is home and I’ve been living in Australia for 25 years. Before coming to live in Melbourne I was in Papua New Guinea for one year. PNG was nice but there was too much fighting. I like the peace here in Australia and it’s fair. I keep busy with my work in Mum’s Kitchen in Moonee Valley cooking food for people in need and delivering the food to everyone. I have six children and still two are living at home. The hard lockdown made me feel very scared and I spent a lot of time looking out my window and talking to my friends on the phone. I felt jealous when I looked outside and saw all the police and other people walking around. I felt like why am I stuck here and everyone else is outside. During the lockdown I didn’t want the food that the government was bringing, my community looked after me and brought the halal foods. But I didn’t need food, I just needed air and to get outside again. I wanted to be part of Shelter 2 because I like spending time with my friends. I am the only Somali woman in this team and I wanted to share my special dishes from my culture.”
“My name is Samira Ali. Home is in Sudan and now in Flemington since 2000. I speak Arabic and Tigray. Australia is a nice country and we have a good life. I wanted to be part of Shelter 2 because I like to share my culture and want people to learn about my culture and maybe try our food. I wasn’t scared of the hard lockdown. Actually it was good for me because I cleaned my house, I had time to cook the food I like to eat and had time to discuss some important family business with my children. I stayed connected with my friends during the lockdown through our Whatsapp group so it was okay.”
Ali Choudry, Dr. Matthew Latif
“Audio Pandemic” by Ali Choudhry and Dr. Matthew Latif is a novel, timely, and innovative project that uses the processes of “data sonification”, “data visualisation”, and “algorithmic composition” in a creative context to create audio-visual representations of the COVID-19 virus.
“Faded, but still there” is a series of seven digital works exploring the notion of home – it can be a physical place where one can live, but it can also refer to the community, online forums and memories that trigger nostalgia.
Nudes Descending is an abstract dance duet, oil on canvas painting.
Jenny Zhe Chang
Yum Cha – Together! is based on both the installation Yum Cha – Sharing Monuments, which was created for the MAV’s Mapping Melbourne, Australia 2017, and the artwork Yum Cha with Milk Tea presented for the South Wind Rises, Asia-Pacific Contemporary Art Exhibition in Taipei, Taiwan 2018.
A spoken word piece by creative BOSS Samuel Gaskin that examines the power of Culture being marginalised and oppressed.
Déjà vu. A feeling of having already experienced the present situation.
Reagan Romero Maiquez, Eh Su
This Dome is an art project that combines Karen music, poetry, and video recording that examines the life of migrants and refugees during a lockdown period. We have incorporated spoken word and music to produce slices of life experienced by a family, community, and friends during the lockdown and amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this video, I present the process of making a Persian dessert, as well as injecting cream and colour, which I like to call drawing Miniature Jelly Art.
“An authentic home is a place that physically holds memories. When one moves several times, they have to negotiate the challenge of packing up memories to bring them along.
With this piece of work, The Soundtrack of 2020, I’ve tried to create an auditory story using cinematic music to reflect certain events throughout 2020. In each event, I’ve aimed to mimic different genres such as “Super heroes” “Horror” and “Action”.
Playing with these themes, in webtoon (digital comic) format, the story involves a mother in Melbourne and her experience of homeschooling during the COVID-19 lockdown.
LOVECORE is dead behind the eyes and trying to cheer itself up. This piece is a video collage of my own writing, found/archival footage, gifs, and music.
The writing traverses various orientations and sometimes bleeds into one other, blurring the events happening within my mind and outside of it.
Shining a Light is a series of photographic art that highlight both resilience as well as battles we are experiencing in this moment in time.
I have written a suite of poems to explore the concept of hopefulness and resilience.
DollFace (Benji Miu)
A love letter. To a middle-class childhood. Late ‘80’s. Pop! Pop from Asia, wow. Playing in the fragrant, Chinese Restaurant. The one that the family once had.
This work was inspired by my déjà vu between the current pandemic situation and my experience of SARs in 2003 in Hong Kong.
This lyric essay was inspired by the idea of re-imagining home. It found it’s form as I asked myself over and over again, “What is home, really?” and “Why?”
I was drawn to record a song that leaves the listener into a space of calm and reflection, and a spark of hopefulness.
As an Artist with a bouquet of emotional traumas and crises: mid age dilemma, immigrants’ homesickness and loneliness; at the beginning of COVID-19 I started my diary, where I wrote down, by text and visual sketches, my current emotions, thoughts and fears.
Part of a series of ongoing work, Mantra, we explore the power of mantra and its transformative abilities.
Who are you when you are alone? Who do you perform for?
Positive Adaptation During Times of COVID-19
My everyday life is outside my usual spaces. I got stuck in Australia and had to integrate into a family life. This is my new artistic production: flowing into the interstices of an already existing intense relationship.
Uncertain Times is a comedy about Hayley and Serah, two housemates from the suburbs, desperately trying to navigate their lives during coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown restrictions.
Recently I’ve been thinking about the home as a really charged space where public and private have now completely collapsed. Doors are now barricades, screens are windows, spaces that were voids are now filled and curtains no longer promise privacy.
Irihipeti Waretini, Bella Waru
If we could hug… it would feel like coming home.
My written piece is a story penned to my younger self.
Drawing inspiration from John Donne’s poem, “No man is an island,” this creative exploration portrays the incoherence of the individualist ideology which COVID-19 outbreak has unveiled. Since “we are involved in mankind” all human needs have the same weight. A clod is to a continent like a person’s death is to a loss.
Cindy Jiang, James Emmanuel Mckinnon, Francis Cao
‘I touch myself’ is a love note to our bodies in isolation. As we find ourselves deprived of con-nection through touch, we grapple with the grief of physical loneliness.
Supansa Thongsuk (Nicky)
I find the realism of life translates through the human body. I hope to show the importance of my cultural diaspora, through my humanist imagery.
Drop • 雫 • หยาดหยด” is a collaborative project between Nakarin Jaikla and Tithipol Kanteewong and Cyouka Ogata – Thai and Japanese Musicians based in Japan. I use my body to portray the story of water and expresses myself through “Yoake”.
I’ve always had a difficult relationship with Australia and with my family. These tenuous connections are central to my reasons for having spent most of my adult life living overseas. Most recently, I spent just over four years living in South America before abruptly evacuating from my home in Lima, Peru to Australia in the midst of the pandemic.
I have created an audio instrumental music piece called, The Spirit of Time.
Giovanna Da Silva
The concepts I have explored for this project are ‘finding new meaning and ways of being’ and ‘transformation’.
I am not alone, nor anybody else. With creativity and making connections, my love and passion for music has always pushed me through boundaries.
Love Letter for Turkish Delights is a 15-minute audiobook dedicated to the buoyant texture of this sweet delicacy. Inspired by research across two continents, this project uses the atmosphere of Richard Mercer’s Love Song Dedications, somatic and street dance along with mindfulness to invite people to find the air within their body and space within the thinking mind. To find this air I use the metaphor and the experience of eating a Turkish Delight.
Ellen Yeong Gyeong Son
“Faded, but still there” is a series of seven digital works exploring the notion of home – it can be a physical place where one can live, but it can also refer to the community, online forums and memories that trigger nostalgia.
I am exploring and responding to the idea of ‘Transformation‘. I have chosen this idea based on various meanings of the word; a marked change in form, nature or appearance / a metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal.
“Home(s)” is a response to the idea of reimagining home, and it explores the notion of feeling a sense of home in multiple places and with multiple people.
Madi Colville Walker
The main inspiration for this song is personal growth and taking the time to listen to myself during quarantine.
Submerged presents two unique responses to the experience of being ‘othered’ as women of colour, and the importance of defining your own value. For Mimi Leung, this is about grappling with an internal struggle with her body, and her attempts to break free of expectations from self and society.
Tāne Te Manu McRoberts
Te Pae o Maumahara, directly translated ‘The Site of Memories’, is a traditionally woven work, made from a mix of contemporary and natural materials.
Racism and oppression in the LGBT+ community is rampant and I hope this video motivates other Queer People of Colour (QPOC) to brush the people off who implicitly and explicitly project oppression and sexual racism.
TIME, a collection of Art and Writing by LIMINAL Magazine
Joelistics (Joel Ma)
Joelistics Presents Film School: Still the Quivering Air is a lot of things, it started off as an album and evolved into a series of collaborative filmed dance pieces that work as a unified whole drawing imagery from Asian ghost stories recontextualised in suburban Melbourne.
5 Days is a mix of 4 days’ worth of results, mixed with image processing to create the day’s product.
Borealis is at once reflection and provocation, taking the form of both a retrospective of the year-that-was and a transmission from the future.
Qôca, a series demonstrating the joy that could exist if afro-textured hair wasn’t seen as a foreign element in corporate settings.
This shadow image is shot in our kitchen. Shadows appear on this wall in April, May and June and these images are a reminder of autumn days. The autumn golden light brings some hope (kibou) and melancholy, always.
Submerged presents two unique responses to the experience of being ‘othered’ as women of colour, and the importance of defining your own value. Ree’s works look to external representations of the physical body to reconsider white beauty standards, by centering Afrocentric beauty and solidarity.
Aarti Jadu, Xan Coppinger, Vinod Prasanna
40 Days’ is a witnessing of artist development, and a study of sound and being.
UpClose is a new online music video showcase presenting intimate performances and interviews with culturally diverse Victorian singer-songwriters.
UpClose is a new online music video showcase presenting intimate performances and interviews with culturally diverse Victorian singer-songwriters.
UpClose is a new online music video showcase presenting intimate performances and interviews with culturally diverse Victorian singer-songwriters.
Big Bao, Ali Adriano, Tavis Pinnington, Michelle Nguyen, Grace Quiason, 黑芝麻 (Hei Zhi Ma), Sydney Farey
Medium Spicy 2 is presented by Asian-Australian artist collective Big Bao. A second iteration of Medium Spicy 2019, this virtual project pairs 3 sound artists with 3 visual artists to create a series of works bringing together the richness of the Asian-Australian creative experience.
Victoria Chiu , RDYSTDY
CENTRE FOR NEW GEOGRAPHY is a new digital place designed and built by artists.
Our piece is titled ‘Forever Dance‘. It is about moving, persisting, dancing forward in harmony, bound to something you believe in, something noble, strong and beautiful.
This piece is expressing how urban design for high-density environments affect the meaning of urban space through the current trends and challenges in urban development.
The work expresses different forms (or another side) of ‘love’ through colours and lines.
Golem Klon VIII, Jinglu Liu
The work takes place in a virtual space where the moving character represents us, the audiences who are able to travel freely without boarder.
Youbi Lee, Yee Wen Soo
Omoon in the teapot is a short puppetry theatre video, playing with the concept of alter ego. Set in the olden days, a young peasant found a magic teapot which took him to his ideal world.
Ria Soemardjo, (Jon)Pongjit Saphakhun, Ron Reeves , Max Milne
In ‘Sanctuary’ we are creating a contemporary performance ritual centered around an old tree next to the Merri Creek, sharing our unique creative process in a short video.
Mindy Meng Wang, Kun Li
Mother is the most private work from the COVID inspired project Enduring Union, in which I use music, film and images to tell stories from Wuhan, my hometown Lanzhou, and where I live now, Melbourne.
The current Covid-19 pandemic appears to offer the chance to reflect on how we live together and it reminds of the deeply rooted racial discrimination.
Syrian-Australian artist Miream Salameh fled her beloved homeland in 2012. Already an accomplished artist on her arrival in Australia, Salameh is compelled to process her experiences of conflict and displacement through her multidisciplinary art practice, driven by an obligation to acknowledge the lives of her spiritual, intellectual and political heroes as part of her own survival and adaptation to a new country. The Colour of Absence explores how the intricate connections between memory, place, people, objects and identity are inflected by her experiences. Salameh engages performance, video and photography to address her deeply personal experience of fleeing Syria as a dissident, together with the ongoing situation of her fellow Syrians who still live under threat or are detained as political prisoners, sometimes for years in darkness and solitary confinement. These meditative pieces reflect on what it means to be absent from the place you belong to and the specific qualities of loss and distance that accompany exile. For Salameh, her monotone video works express the way memories lose vivid detail and colour through distance or confinement. In stark contrast, the bright colours of her collage images of the personal belongings she carried when she fled Syria, convey optimism, nostalgia and the sense of home Salameh carries with her. This is Salameh’s first solo exhibition in Australia, a significant milestone as she develops a powerful visual language to express her presence in a new place. Read catalogue essay written by Anna Sande.