52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS : First action January 6

This image: Deborah Kelly, Beware of the God, 2005, projection at Circular Quay, Sydney, commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, courtesy the artist
Banner image: Anida Yoeu Ali, The Buddhist Bug series, digital C print, 2014, courtesy the artist

On Saturday 6 January, Artspace and Sydney Festival will present an action by Indigenous artist Richard Bell, the first in the 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS series, a year-long online exhibition that will respond to the urgent political circumstances of our times. The exhibition will see the creation of 52 new artworks in 52 unique locations throughout Asia that will be shared globally via Instagram and online. Richard Bell’s first action to launch the exhibition will examine the Australian government’s stance on nuclear weapons and will involve him referencing graphic political posters from the 1980’s. 

 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS is curated and instigated by Artspace in Sydney, working with an extensive network of artists, collaborators and agitators from across Asia.  Every week for one year Artspace will invite a different artist to respond to a current political or social issue in the form of an action (anything and everything that artists use to communicate: from an artwork to a tour or community event, an image, a shared meal, a performance, or a temporary installation) to build awareness around important concerns locally and globally.

The 52 artists and artist collectives will represent a wide spectrum of ethnicities and cultural backgrounds across Asia — from Bangladesh to South Korea, Cambodia to the Solomon Islands, Turkey to the breadth of Australian communities. Additional artists will be announced throughout 2018 as details of individual projects are confirmed.

Participating artists including Samson Young (Hong Kong), Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries (South Korea), Deborah Kelly (Australia), Hit Man Gurung (Nepal) and Rabbya Naseer (Pakistan) will stage their actions in unique, physical locations throughout Asia and then share them with a global audience via Instagram, with a live feed to an evolving online map, to generate a continuously unfolding archive of creative responses to everything from the refugee crisis and mass migration to the impacts of climate change around the world.

Alexie Glass-Kantor, Executive Director, Artspace, said: “There has never been a more important time for a project like 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS. Every day, headlines and newsfeeds intimidate with an increasingly troubled world where profit and personal gain are seemingly placed above all else and difference is feared. This project aims to spotlight the unflinching voice of the artist, and the belief that empathy and understanding are critical for a better future.”

 The catalyst for Richard Bell’s project was Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s refusal to acknowledge the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) after they won the prestigious 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for successfully securing the backing of 122 countries to establish a United Nations Treaty banning nuclear weapons.

 Bell’s action will involve him referencing graphic political protest posters from the 1980’s. These artistic responses to the violence of the cold war and Maralinga radically shaped the anti-nuclear movement in Australia. As history repeats itself, Bell’s project is a call to action and a direct reminder of national accountability in the current climate.

WEBSITE: www.52artists52actions.com (Live on January 4th)