Parallel is an Australian Research Council Linkage project developed in collaboration with artists, writers and researchers based at UNSW Art & Design (University of New South Wales), the Institute for Culture and Society (Western Sydney University) and Sydney College of the Arts (University of Sydney), working in partnership with the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA).

The project embraces the potential of the ‘parallel’ or the ‘para’ as a way of being adjacent to, beyond or distinct from the structural formations that are typically the case in Australian art institutions.

Our research project builds on the 2018 Diversity Arts Australia report, Shifting the Balance, which found that, at a structural level, Australian cultural institutions, including art galleries and museums, had low levels of representation of art workers from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) backgrounds. While we acknowledge that the label CaLD requires more examination, the Diversity Arts Australia report has motivated us to propose new ways to redress this structural under-representation.

Parallel aims to move away from the common method of ‘diversifying’ art museums via audience development, instead turning to a key role in museums—curatorial practice. We propose that curation, with its focus on caring for the museum’s core operations of collecting, exhibiting and public programming, can offer new ways to think and feel structural change.

This project partners with MAMA to embrace the potential of regional art museums, which are parallel—adjacent to, beyond, distinct from—normative ‘art centres.’ Parallel considers that regional art museums, committed to their local and increasingly diverse communities as a result of humanitarian resettlement programs, can be at the forefront of this kind of structural change.

MAMA is located on Wiradjuri country/Albury and is part of the Albury-Wodonga border community situated along the Murray River. Since the end of World War II, Albury-Wodonga has been a site for the resettlement of refugees and migrants, most recently resettling people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines, Nepal and India. During the 1960s and ‘70s, the region was also a designated resettlement area for displaced First Nations people. Since its re-opening in 2015, MAMA has been grappling with the complex ways in which displacement and dispossession have shaped its community—a region that is home to people from many distinct nations, languages and cultures.

Between 2022-2024, MAMA will work with Parallel to foster understandings of how museums can be reimagined and restructured in collaboration with curators from CaLD backgrounds.


Parallel Curatorial Fellowships

Parallel will commission six independent and/or emerging art workers who identify as CaLD (especially from culturally under-represented backgrounds) to develop projects that explore opportunities for structural change at MAMA. Participants will be mentored by CaLD researchers, curators and museum directors, as well as First Nations curators and leaders to develop vocabularies, protocols, knowledge and networks across multiple cultures.

MAMA and Parallel are committed to better understanding the relationship between museums and experiences of migration, dispossession and colonisation. With Parallel, MAMA will play host to museological and curatorial experiments that can run beside, adjacent to and beyond conventional museum structures. MAMA will offer resources and support our six participants to produce new projects, which will be central to envisaging how MAMA, and other Australian regional art museums more broadly, may reimagine its structures and support diverse art workers.

Parallel Team

Verónica Tello, UNSW Art & Design
Salote Tawale, Sydney College of the Arts
Ien Ang, Institute for Culture and Society, WSU
Phillip Mar, Institute for Culture and Society, WSU


MAMA Team

Bree Pickering, Director
Nanette Orly, Assistant Curator
Sophie Holvast, Public Programs Officer
Michael Moran, Curator


Advisory Network:

Tina Baum, Gulumirrgin (Larrakia), Wardaman and Karajarri peoples, Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, National Gallery of Australia
Ellie Buttrose, Curator, Contemporary Australian Art, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
Paschal Daantos Berry, Head of Learning and Participation, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Rebekah Raymond, Arabana, Limilngan-Wulna, Wuthathi, and Mualgal peoples, Curator of Aboriginal Art and Material Culture, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
Talia Smith, Curator, Granville Centre Art Gallery
Mikala Tai, Visual Arts Director, Australia Council for the Arts


Call for Applications – Parallel Conversations

Parallel and Runway Journal are excited to partner on a new initiative: Parallel Conversations. Over two years, we will support twelve culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) writers to advance critical, bold and experimental thinking on ways of enacting structural change in Australian art institutions. We especially seek to support proposals engaging with regional art museums, building on Parallel’s focus on the potential of regional art museums to be adjacent to, beyond, or distinct from normative art ‘centres’ and structures.

In 2022 Parallel Conversations will commission six 2000-word texts for publication on Runway Journal’s digital Conversations platform, with writers undertaking an extended period of knowledge-sharing and receiving support from Parallel and Runway Journal. The commissioned authors will also be invited to publish their texts in Parallel’s print publication (2024). There will be a separate callout for the 2023 Parallel Conversations commissions.

Parallel and Runway Journal aim to foster a new generation of writers to grapple with and critique the limits of Australian art institutions, and generate new ideas and speculative propositions as to what such institutions might become.

We are committed to non-normative writing, as well as critical, astute analysis — both are necessary to understand what structural change is, and how it might better appear in our institutions.

Who you are:

  • An independent and/or early career arts worker (including writers, artists, curators) with a demonstrated interest in institutional critique, curating and/or experimental museology
  • Identify as being CaLD and under-represented in Australian art institutions
  • Committed to rethinking and reimagining museums through critical and/or experimental writing 

What we offer:

  • $1000 writers fee (plus 10% Superannuation)
  • $500 travel allowance to visit a regional art museum (if required)
  • Publication on Runway Journal’s online Conversations platform
  • Republication in Parallel’s print publication (2024), with a possible invitation to expand the text
  • Mentorship from Parallel and editorial support from Runway Journal

Timeframe & Commitment

  • Development period: Writers will have eight weeks to develop their 2000-word commission, with the first scheduled for publication in May. During the eight-week development period, you will work closely with representatives from both Runway Journal and Parallel who will support the development of your written work.
  • Workshops: Writers are required to participate in four 1.5 hour online workshops to co-develop ideas with fellow Parallel Conversations writers (proposed dates are the first Mondays of April, May, June and July between 6-7.30pm).

How to apply:

Submit the following documents via our online Google Form by 5pm (AEDT) February 28, 2022:

  • Current CV (one page)
  • Previous writing example(s), especially one relevant to the aims of Parallel Conversations (total 5 pages max.) 
  • Proposal (300 words max.). See proposal ideas below as a guide. 
  • If your proposal involves travel: an outline of budget, destination, and relevance to your proposed work (100 words max.)

Applications due 5pm (AEDT) February 28, 2022.

Apply Now

Parallel acknowledges the original and sovereign custodians of the lands and waters on which the institutions directly aligned with this research stand: the Wiradjuri people (MAMA, WSU), the Darug, Eora and Dharawal (also referred to as Tharawal) peoples (WSU), and the Bidjigal and Gadigal peoples of Eora (UNSW Art & Design and SCA). We acknowledge that the lands and waters that nurture the team members and beneficiaries of Parallel have been places of knowledge, culture and innovation for First Nations peoples since time immemorial. We acknowledge that the structures we endeavour to change are direct products of Invasion and ongoing settlement, which many of us are complicit in. We acknowledge that the ways we are researching structural change, and the futures this project strives for, necessarily draws on methods and ideas indebted to First Nations peoples, knowledges, activism and survivance. We acknowledge that acknowledgements are not enough, and work towards centring First Nations sovereignty through ethical and meaningful practices of solidarity in our enactments of structural change.