Broadmeadows, Victoria, April, 2016
In partnership with Vicseg and the City of Hume
Belonging and the Transient Home was a public art project developed in collaboration with the Vicseg Asylum Seekers Social Health Persian Group. The project developed was a public installation of transformed suitcases which became 'Transient Homes'. The members of the group were involved in creating ceramic good luck charms, based on the custom of giving good luck charms to friends and family during the Persian New Year. In April, 2016 the group participated in the Broadmeadows (Victoria) Street Festival presenting the project to the local community, assisting these new Australians in building confidence and gaining further connections to the local community through the process of building a project together. Later in the day the group ran The Great Transient Home Race, an activity that involved the wider community and integrated play into the artistic process. The project continues on with my research on the role in which art can play in encouraging inclusive cities through creativity.
A New Model: Belonging-in-Transience
The project draws its title from Miwon Kwon's book One Place After Another: Site Specific Art and Locational Identity (2004). In discussing the relationship between place, art and the site, in a period of rapid globalisation, she concludes by proposing a new model of approach for artists, which is the idea of belonging-in-transience, a way in which she believes artists deal with the fluidity of our times. Site-specific practices have been greatly influential in recent years amongst artists working in the public urban sphere, as it allows the artists to create works which respond and have a dialogue with the specific space, place and community. This concept certainly made me consider the relationship that new migrants, refugees and asylum seeker communities have with place and the impermanency of home they feel. Therefore in this project, I wanted for us as a group to reconsider the idea that home could be reconsidered not as a fixed place or site, but as something conceptual that we take with us and thus we take ownership of our unfixed status and thus empowering those who are often considered vulnerable, leading to the development of project focused on a mobile status.
Co-learners in The Studio
During this project, I worked with parents and children under the age of five. In developing the project, I attempted to create workshops which would work with their social health group sessions. This led to consideration for educational theory relating to early years learning and in particular I was interested in the atelier (studio in Italian) which was promoted by the Reggio Amelia philosophy in early years learning in post war Italy promoted by Loris Malaguzzi. Until today this educational philosophy still has great influence, as it recognises that children are tactile learners and use their bodies to experience the world in order to learn. The philosophy promotes the idea of the artists studio as a methodology of conducting the class environment with young children, with the all participants as co-learners in the environment. As I worked on this project, I adopted this concept of being a co-learner, to keep my mind opened during the process and to reflect on the formation of the project. I was fortunate that I was working with social workers who strongly encouraged the group to participate in creative activities, which they felt could expose them to new ways of thinking and perhaps gain new perspectives on their resettlement in Australia.