Isolation and lockdown has affected everyone, although its impacts are distributed unevenly. This edition of Offsite was developed as social distancing was brought into practice in Australia. The intervening global calamities and political crises increasingly feel connected – stark inequality, climate change, structural racism, neoliberalism, displays of dictatorial power. Issues that have long cast their shadows on us are coming to a head.
The five works in Points of Connection offer windows into conflicting ideas and emotions, knots and tangles of materials and images which may not be unravelled until long after this period of history is over. They’re small gestures made by artists and writers who are in the midst of trying to make sense of a changing world, living their lives physically distant, mostly through a screen.
Points of Connection is about the shock of being apart as we’ve watched and agitated and felt the world be remade. It considers how we navigate intimacy, togetherness, loneliness, politics and art at a time when we need connection more than ever.
Nikki Lam’s 03:20 reflects on the repetitious history of Hong Kong. Through found footage, Lam creates layers of memories and emotion that resonate between the SARS pandemic and political crises in Hong Kong in 2003, the current global experience of COVID-19 and the long fight against Chinese control that has reached an apex in 2020. A video work made to be viewed on a mobile phone, 3:20 expresses how these changes have been witnessed from a distance, through glitched imagery and poor internet connections with a deep longing for home.
Camlia Galaz’s STUDIO VLOG tracks our changing connection to productivity from the position of an artist. Being an artist often means having a complex relationship with work and output – artmaking can function in a person’s life as an emotional anchor. How do we understand ourselves as artists as we move deeper into isolation, away from the studio, away from work, away from physical space? Do we need to recreate the demands and structure of productivity even when the world stops?
James Nguyen’s Porniniso is a playful work on intimacy, isolation and desire. Bringing together a long stream of opening credit sequences and soundtracks from pornography, Nguyen’s work reflects on the experience of the internet becoming our whole universe, including for sex.
Lesley-Anne Cao shows a short video from 2019 Tender Machine, alongside a new piece of writing “Nothing to Time”. The video is the laborious recreation of an object only ever encountered through a photograph, which, here, is presented as an artwork accessed only on a screen. Cao’s writing reflects on how artworks can bring together different times, places, feelings, materials and, most of all, people, even when the work doesn’t really exist anywhere.
Jazz Money’s poem “Through the Moon” locates intimate relationships and connections to home within broader cataclysmic events and the experiences of others that feel distant. The poem considers what might ground us in times of crisis, and reflects on how the things that we don’t know speak volumes about us.