When:25 July - 19 September
Documenting Canberra’s response to COVID-19
FIRST RESPONSE is a series of four new works from artists Martin Ollman, Marissa McDowell, Anna Georgia, and Shannon Hanrahan commissioned to document Canberra’s initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The works highlight Canberra’s unique role as the national centre of this crisis, as well as showing the profound and personal effects the pandemic is having on individuals and communities in the ACT.
The works included in FIRST RESPONSE are:
Plagued by Martin Ollman
Plagued is a solo exhibition of new works by photographer Martin Ollman. During the initial stages of Canberra’s response, Ollman was granted unique access to Canberra’s frontline health services, political figures, and major institutions, including the Australian parliamentary Senate inquiry into the COVID-19 response. The exhibition includes portraits of individuals who played key roles in the COVID-19 response, including Senator Katy Gallagher and ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith, as well as frontline health workers, and members of the arts and tertiary education communities.
Photos: Martin Ollman, 2020.
Isolation by Marissa McDowell
Isolation is a short documentary film by Marissa McDowell exploring the COVID-19 experience of Canberra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, including their unique fears and hopes for the community’s future. The film features personal accounts from a broad range of community members, including Elders Aunty Matilda House and Uncle Warren Daley, artists Brenda Croft and Dale Huddleston, and local students, offering insights into how they felt about these new and unfamiliar circumstances, how it has affected their families, businesses and education and their thoughts about the future.
Notes on Canberra Lockdown (A Non-Travelogue) by Anna Georgia
Two channel digital video, 60mins
Original music by Bayard Condon
In the 1960s, experimental filmmaker Peter Hutton started filming landscapes, cities and people that he came across whilst working as a merchant marine. A wonderstruck voyeur, Hutton accumulated images on his 35mm camera spontaneously as he travelled. The resulting films – sequences of his fragmentary observations – are impressionistic travelogues, notes on human life and geography.
While Covid-19 has us looking outwards mentally and virtually, it has shrunk our worlds down to the dwellings in which we live, our local parks and bushwalks. In Canberra – a city defined by its middle-class suburbia, small population, high rates of government employment, manicured open spaces and sentinel mountain ranges – a quiet sense of horror and foreboding has become the backdrop to lives of relative safety and comfort, making the familiar strange. This film visualises people’s everyday gestures and activities at home and ‘out of the house’ in the context of a global crisis. The participants are people I know personally, having grown up in Canberra.
Fix Me. A dance response by Shannon Hanrahan
Choreographed by Shannon Hanrahan, Fix Me explores the contradiction of the freedom of movement vs the physical restraints of self-isolation at home, the physical space transferred into the online space, and the way that dancers/dance artists can work around, and even be inspired, by spatial limitations.
About the Artists:
Martin is a freelance photographer based in Canberra, Australia. He began his career in Photojournalism in Canberra then in London, where he worked as a freelance photographer in the UK. He has had over 2000+ of his photographs published around the world, held several exhibitions of his work and has been awarded two national photographic awards.
Marissa was born in Cowra NSW, a Wiradjuri woman with Irish and English ancestry. She is an independent creative producer of Black & White Films and has worked with Indigenous communities telling their stories through documentary film making, photography, and writing. Her documentaries have been screened on SBS/NITV, poetry published through USMOB Writing, and photographs displayed at PhotoAccess and the Sydney Living Museum. She has recently received her Master of Arts Screen Business and Leadership at the Australian Film Television and Radio School and is currently undertaking her Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage at Charles Sturt University.
Anna Georgia was born and raised in Alice Springs in the 1990s, but did most of her schooling in Canberra, with university in Sydney and abroad. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (History, Philosophy, Film Studies), she pursued a Masters of Visual Anthropology in the Granada Centre of Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester. This quasi-artistic field values the role that audio-visual mediums have to offer in the ethnographic description and mediation of human experience, in addition to linguistic description. Conceptually, Anna Georgia is interested in the epistemology of documentary; how, as a phenomenological medium, film ‘uses experience to express experience’ (Ilsa Barbash).
Shannon is an independent Sydney-based choreographer and dancer, who is also alumna of the Tuggeranong Arts Centre’s Fresh Funk urban dance program. Shannon has trained at the Ev & Bow Full Time Dance Training Centre, performed at Sensation White Music Festival (2017) and Macklemore’s NRL Grand Final Performance (2017), and was an instructor and choreographer for Australian Dance Festival (2017-18).
The Tuggeranong Arts Centre commissioned the works in First Response. The project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.