“When the introduction to the roundtable ended with the statement that ‘Many of you know each other, it is like the band gets back together”, I felt the warmth of inclusion, and indeed I had the pleasure of seeing several familiar faces around me.
The roundtable consisted of twenty participants. Of these most were academics, many working together on this ACR funded project. There was a large group representing Arts Project Australia including one of their current studio artists. Amongst the group there were four artists who identified as outsiders, three of them who knew each other from the refugee arts project, one of whom was also completing a Ph.D. at Melbourne University, and one artist who also identified as having a mental illness.
What is an ‘outsider’?
Can any of us taking part in a roundtable, with the opportunity to speak and be heard really claim such status?
What does the project look like if the ‘outsider’ is only represented through research?
Does being funded make you complicit with the broader aims of the organisation that supports you, preventing you from being able to view it from the outside?
Without funding, how will diverse and marginalised voices be heard? What about disability where artists may not be able to articulate their needs and where advocacy sometimes only paves the way for absence?
What do artists who identify as ‘outsiders’ and have agency to promote their work have in common with artists who have no language?
When asked what I would like the group to take away with them I suggested they keep searching for the artists that they have never heard of. But the challenge to seek out those who have no voice may be an oxymoron despite the best intentions of those who wish to include them. But as difficult as this challenge might be, it’s important to keep asking this of ourselves because as great as the band is currently sounding, we need to be sharing the stage.“
LINDA JUDGE, ARTIST AND INDEPENDENT CURATOR