alliance, gathering, assembly
Presented by Arts House
Wed 12 Apr – Sun 23 Apr
Mon – Sat, 10am – 5pm,
Sunday, 11am – 3pm
Join Guest Curator Vishal Kumaraswamy and exhibiting artists for talks, meals, performances and screenings.
Curator Tour, Film Screening and Artist Panel
Thur 13 Apr, 6pm – 8pm
Curator Tours and Communal Meals
Sat 15 Apr, 12.30pm – 2.30pm
Sat 22 Apr, 12.30pm – 2.30pm
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry St,
A staggering roster of local and international artists draw on a huge range of artforms and activities to imagine what an institution of historical significance can offer its community in the contemporary present.
The history of curation has long depended on a top-down model, but Dalit artist-curator Vishal Kumaraswamy has never held to that. Here he has brought together some of the most critical artistic voices in the subcontinent and the diaspora to flip the North Melbourne Town Hall on its head.
Across the venue – from the main hall to its studios to the many spaces in between – these artists will re-vision what the collective voice of artistic communities and practices can do for a civic site. From sonic works connecting disparate spaces to practices that evolve as they are exposed to their audiences, these subversive, deeply responsive experiments will offer a holistic and critical experience of contemporary art.
Indulge the senses through film, performance, sound, installations, text and participatory art, then dive further into Okkoota through a range of complementary activities – from communal meals to digital discussions.
From Bangalore in India, Vishal Kumaraswamy brings together a stunning ensemble of artists to create a project that draws from the anti-caste movement – its histories and organising principles – and contends with the ever-present remnants of colony, the violence of assimilation and seeking belonging in the face of overwhelming threats of erasure.
Exhibition design by Tony MacDonald
Okkoota is part of Arts House’s Equity—Builder where an artist-curator from a marginalised community is handed over the keys, spaces and resources for a curatorial project across two years in an effort to renew the relationship between the institution and independents.
Drawing from the anti-caste movement, its histories, organising principles and rooted within non-hierarchical ways of approaching artistic interventions within contested spaces, Okkoota offers to demonstrate ways of building equity within institutional thinking & programming by fomenting community engagement across a range of artistic, social, pedagogical and experiential outcomes. The conceptual framework of the project rests in the notion of the collective voice of the artists, practices, communities & range of inquiries that will inhabit the building over the course of two weeks. Thinking through what sonic signatures can be ascribed upon the surfaces of the building by the meeting of minds, bodies, rituals, languages and histories as they contend with the ever present remnants of colony, the violence of assimilation and seeking belonging in the face of overwhelming threats of erasure, these artists & cultural practitioners contribute to a collective voice that resonates from the inside out thereby signalling a significant moment of departure in the history of the programming of contemporary art spaces. - Vishal Kumaraswamy
About the artist-curator
Vishal has an MA in Photography from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. His works have been shown at The Research Pavilion in the context of the Venice Biennale, the Αthens Digital Arts Festival, CCS Bard, Vector Festival, The Royal College of Art, Furtherfield and Site Gallery. Some of his works are distributed by VIVO Media Arts (Vancouver). Vishal has previously been an artist-in-residence at the U.S. Consulate General Mumbai, Contemporary Calgary in Alberta, SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre) in Toronto, Vital Capacities & videoclub in the UK. He is a recipient of the Australia Council for the Arts “Transmitter: Darwin x Delhi” grant and the Warehouse421 Artistic Research Grant (2021) and is a 2022-2024 Research Associate at the Centre for Contemporary Art Derry~Londonderry.
Vishal is the founder of the international artist collective Now You Have Authority, a collaborative practice through which he has curated exhibitions, residencies, and delivered workshops at Tate Modern’s Tate Exchange programme, Tanzfest Aarau and the Sluice Biennial. He also develops independent curatorial projects with a focus on contemporary South-Asian artistic practices and his most recent project the-lack-of was shown as part of the wrong biennale in 2020.
Gallery Images: Matthew Stanton
Banner Image: Subash Thebe Limbu, NINGWASUM (still), 2021. © Subash Thebe Limbu
Image description: Two astronauts stand at the edge of a lake. They are small in the landscape. There are low clouds over the water and the surrounding landscape is grey and rocky.