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.
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
Aneshka Mora, UNSW Art & Design
Bree Pickering, Director
Nanette Orly, Assistant Curator
Sophie Holvast, Public Programs Officer
Michael Moran, Curator
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 and the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) invite applications from six art workers to develop curatorial projects over a period of two years. Parallel invites applications from all art workers, including artists, curators and researchers who identify as culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) and who are invested in structural change in Australian art museums.
The six curatorial commissions will advance Parallel’s aim to better understand methods for structural change at MAMA and beyond. The curatorial commissions can span experimental museology, collection re-hangs, institutional critique, exhibition making, digital projects, public programming and writing/editing (and more). Participants will become Fellows within the Parallel program and be invited to take part in various aspects of the Australia Research Council research project, including a Curatorial Intensive, Symposium, lectures, workshops, and publications, and will receive mentoring and professional development opportunities from the Parallel Team, including MAMA staff and the Advisory Network.
Applications are due 5pm (AEDT) December 22, 2021.
Who you are:
- An independent and/or early career arts worker with a demonstrated interest in curating, museology, and/or public programming
- Identify as being CaLD and under-represented in Australian art institutions
- Committed to rethinking and reimagining museums while working collaboratively with fellow curators, artists, researchers and industry peers
What we offer:
- $7000 curator fee
- All fees, including artists fees, artwork loans, installation and/or public programs costs, to support your curatorial project (using NAVA rates)
- Administration, installation, marketing and professional documentation of your project at MAMA in 2023
- All travel costs to attend the Parallel Curatorial Intensive at MAMA for five days in early 2022
- All travel costs for research and development week at MAMA in late 2022
- All travel costs to attend the Parallel Symposium at MAMA in early 2024
- Ongoing mentorship from Parallel, MAMA and the Advisory Network (each fellow will be paired with one member of the Advisory Network after the selection process is completed in a consultative and collaborative manner)
*Travel costs include transport, accommodation and per diems
How to apply:
Submit the following documents via our online Google Form by 5pm (AEDT) December 22, 2021:
- Current CV (one page)
- Examples of previous work, especially those relevant to Parallel, including images and/or writing samples (5–10 pages).
- Responses to the three following questions, uploaded in one single file:
- What ideas and research drive your practice? (200 words)
- Why do you wish to participate in Parallel? (300 words)
- How will you engage with the context of MAMA during the curatorial fellowship? (300 words)
- Bear in mind the Selection Criteria (listed in the application form)
Parallel and MAMA will host an online Q&A session about the application process on Tuesday, December 7.
Please visit our Instagram page (@_parallelstructures) or subscribe to our newsletter below for more information. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
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.