MUTUAL INTENT - exhibition essay by Myf Halton.

As I began writing this essay I felt stuck - How do I write about artwork that doesn’t exist yet? The brief the artists were given had a loose structure and is very much open to individual interpretation. The artists that make up this wide reaching exhibition also operate within vastly differing conceptual frameworks and mediums. Yet the art object or even the individual artists are not at the centre of this exhibition. At its core Mutual Intent is about artists becoming active after many months of forced hibernation. Through forged experimentation and engagement the end product is unknown. The value of this exhibition exists in the process rather than the visual contemplation.

This large scale collaborative effort is a product of a seamless partnership between the Third Quarter Gallery and Yeti. Two organisations that exist as a platform for emerging Brisbane based artists. It is important to acknowledge their struggle as well throughout this past year. Being forced to question, how do you invigorate a community that has become a financial casualty of a global crisis? 

Australian artist Lisa Radford unpacks collaboration in Let's Stay Together, an essay featured in Permanent Recession (2019). Radford considers the complex notion of collaboration in contemporary art by investigating the meaning of the word; experiment, coincidence, coalescence, correspondence, co-dependent. Reducing the term to a simple definition of something active happening with an unknown form that is forged through co-dependence on participants. Expanding on this collaboration has provided a starting point for many to move into new territories of artistic production. In this case the artwork is not about the audience member it is about immersion and participation through process. Mutual Intent has used this framework to allow artists to emerge from hibernation through new pairings of interdisciplinary experimentation. 

To acknowledge the importance of collaboration in this moment it is important to consider our positioning as individuals within contexts of austerity, bureaucratisation, globalisation. We are experiencing a contemporary moment of subjectivity where our sense of self is derived from individuality and difference. For many this provides the foundation on which their artistic practice is built, becoming cultural entities in their own right. Theorist and philosopher Rosie Braidotti acknowledges this in her theories of post-humanism. Speaking abstractly about human existence and the binaries we create to articulate experience. This divide has been considerably amplified by physical distance and financial instability experienced by most over the past year. A forced hibernation of artist activity has been a band aid solution. 

Braidotti offers an optimistic solution in her work and acknowledges that we must make a commitment to the process of change as well as maintaining a strong sense of community. Recognising difference as a positivity that can bring us together despite divisive political rhetoric. The need for collaboration is ever present and Mutual Intent achieves this deficit in creative production and recognises that strength and fortitude comes from co-dependent interdisciplinary creation. The need to be part of a community drives us forward and through this collaboration returns to the fore.


Exhibition Essay - Myf Halton