It is stating the obvious in saying that we all experience the world differently. However, now more than ever we need to remind ourselves of this. For the past two years we have been in a holding pattern, one out of our immediate control, but exacerbated by an inability to understand that we all experience the world differently.
More so now than ever, we cannot return to our habitual ways, existing as if the world has not changed. As if the way that we have lived in the past was the only way, or the right way. If anything, we should collectively realise the world as a place that is inherently broken, in need of repair, in need of love.
In a globalised system humans are more connected than ever, and yet the opposite is true. We too are in desperate need of repair, in need of love.
In 2019, two friends were chatting, one in Hong Kong the other in Naarm, jokingly we propositioned, ‘What would a project look like if it was to de-centre the settler colonial structure?’. Hyphenated Biennial grew out of this simple premise, and with it came a need to also unpack, deconstruct, reconfigure, and in some cases, reject our own thinking, processes and prior learnings.
Hyphenated Biennial was never designed to address the many problems that plague our community, such as issues of colonisation, race, class, and equity. Rather it is an invitation to sit within uncomfortable questions; to reflect on positionality; to understand ourselves better, both as individuals and collectively; and to share a moment that is as much about process as it is about outcome.
At that moment three years ago, we could not fathom the world we would be bringing this project into. Through political upheavals, an ever-growing climate crisis, and a pandemic; we have lost so much over the past few years, our loss is felt through personal, local, national and global grief that has numbed a great many of us to the core. At times over the past few years, it has felt like we have reached the limits of empathy; that this holding pattern we find ourselves has seen us crash and burn.
I have often spoken about the ambiguity of hope and its limitations. However, over the course of the past weeks as we have re-established relationships, physical connections, and conversations, it is this moment that gives me hope that something will change. This moment is an invitation to engage and to contemplate; to unlearn and make anew; and to unearth the uncomfortable ways in which our lives have been mediated by colonialism and confront it from within ourselves and our communities.
Over the past three years I have been challenged, confronted, deconstructed, and learned deeply from my collaborators, and the artists who have been a part of this collective moment. To Elyas Alavi, Moorina Bonini, Jacob Boehme & Nithya Nagarajan & Kalanjay Dhir, Sab D’Souza, Jacinta Keefe & Ellen YG Son, Jenna Lee, Jazz Money, Ashley Perry & Siying Zhou, Talia Smith, Beth Thornber, Jennifer Ma & David Leupolu, thank you for your time, engagement, and commitment to the process that has resulted in Hyphenated Biennial. To Ari Tampubolon, Varsha Ramesh and Leela Schauble, your skills have been invaluable, and your enthusiasm immeasurable. Above all to Nikki Lam, I have learnt so much from you, thank you for consistently calling me out on my own shit and letting me grow as a person.
To end I would like to proposition, that perhaps we are still in this holding pattern, perhaps we still can still decide how we land. This is the hope…
Because Hyphenated Biennial is not the end, it is only the beginning.