Asian Traffic Conference :: Linda Lou Murphy

26 – 26 June 2004 :: College of Fine Arts, Sydney, Australia

The conference was held in conjunction with the Asian Traffic Exhibition, an ambitious and innovative program of contemporary Asian art at the Asia-Australia Arts Centre from June to September, presented as an official parallel event of the 2004 Biennale of Sydney. Yoko Kajios work was presented in September as part of the exhibition in Launch Phase 6, the final round of showings. Yoko was one of 14 Australian-Asian artists included in a show of 30 artists. Following our successful proposal we were invited to participate in the conference by giving a performance near the conclusion of the conference on Saturday, June 26.

Yoko and I proposed to explore our experience of language and communication, to reflect on some of the themes in the exhibition which the conference focused on, such as ‘the exchange and movement of contemporary thinking within the region and beyond’. Our piece interplay gave us an opportunity to think about our working relationship and how it has developed over a number of years. It brought us to talk with a sense of purpose about the value of patience and care when working across difficult lines of communication in both a verbal and bodily sense. The work reflects this in the shared shedding of sleeves, and in the play of looking and examining one another with magnifier headpieces, which we pulled down over our eyes, finally extending the gaze to the audience. As well we included a key signature element, which has always expressed our feelings – pulling sound recording ribbon from one another’s mouths. The moving image was of two fish in a bowl, engaged in a continuously shifting and moving circular flow of splash and colour. The sound for this piece is a work by Yoko. As it begins it seems to capture perfectly those frustrating times when the ears ring with a desire to get the channel but reception cannot be achieved, moments later the tone of the sound lowers and changes, and the fractured beginning moves into a melodic chatter.

As the only full time artists in the group shimmeeshok, Yoko and I have a special bond and a shared knowledge of what it is to be a full time career artist, we are able to accommodate one another’s stresses and strains. We comfortably fit our work for shsh into our individual practices, and bring our own skills and resources into the shsh mix. It was a privilege to develop this work, and we thank ANAT, not only for its support through the Workshop and Conference Fund, but we treasure having ANAT in Adelaide for the very personal words and actions of support that ANAT have been able to give us.

The benefits of attending the conference as I have said relate to Yoko and I on a very personal level, particularly in developing and understanding our working relationship, as well as realising the potential we have for the future. But the benefits go way beyond that – we met the most extraordinary artists and curators, writers and speakers. Our work was presented well and received with wonderment by them. We listened, and I learnt so much about Asian and Australian-Asian art and importantly about the subjective experiences behind some of the art that I am so impressed with. I heard Suzann Victor speak, someone whose work and writing I have been engaged with for a number of years, her talk was very moving, you really had to be there, its not the sort of thing you take notes of, it washes over you, so thanks again to ANAT I experienced something very rare.

Later I returned to Sydney to do a three-month residency at Artspace and because of my prior experience at the conference I was able to visit Binghui Huangfu, the Director of the Asian Australian Arts Centre, and attend the various launches of the Asian Traffic Exhibition. It was very rewarding to be accepted, included and connected more deeply with the participants.

Convened by the Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics and College of Fine Arts, UNSW in association with the Asia-Australia Art Centre.

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