Artist run initiatives take over Hobart in Hobiennale


Spearheaded in 2017 by Tasmanian ARI (artist run initiative) Constance, Hobiennale is a week-long arts festival uniting ARIs from across Australia and New Zealand via free exhibitions, projects and artists’ talks. Filtered throughout unusual locations in Hobart and its surrounds, the second iteration of Hobiennale delivers work from 21 ARIs in a huge public program featuring everything from spoken-word performance and visual art exhibitions to chaperoned art walks and fully costumed bake-offs.

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) is a major location for Hobiennale events and several appear here during the festival’s run. For Here lies lies, Brisbane based artist Mandy Quadrio (Outer Space, Qld), explores her Indigenous heritage as a Palawa woman of Tebrakunna (north-east Tasmania) in an exhibition occupying the subterranean depths of TMAG’s Bond Store basement. In a series of sculptures replicating traditional boats once used by her Palawa ancestors, Quadrio uses bull kelp overlaid with swathes of steel wool to construct a physical embodiment of the violent erasure of Tasmanian Aboriginal history through acts of colonisation.

Mandy Quadrio, Movement at the edge, 2019, steel wool, bull kelp, velvet. Installation view, Outer Space, Brisbane. Photography: Charlie Hillhouse.

“The harshness of steel wool alludes to the subjugation and enslavement of Aboriginal women as domestic servants to colonial households, while the boats speak to the forced removals of my Palawa ancestors from our homelands to the Bass Strait Islands,” Quadrio explains. “The kelp has been collected on Country and is a material adaptive to environmental change; it embodies resilience and continuity.”

Further afield, innovative use of non-traditional gallery spaces and methods of communication are evident in An affinity of hammers by Aliyah Winter (MEANWHILE, NZ) and aerial billboards by Pakeha-Indian artist Elisabeth Pointon (play_station, NZ). Placed in the underground caverns of Princes Park Battery, a former ammunitions store, Winter bases her work on archival research into queer history and presents her findings through moving image and performance. Soaring over Hobart in two scheduled flyovers, Pointon’s For the last time would you look at that, uses text-based aerial banners modelled after those flown across Miami for PLANE TEXT during Art Basel: Miami Beach in 2012, to expose the complexities of language, accessibility and representation in the corporate world.

Deep beneath street level in the CBD’s Cinema One, a movie theatre vacant since 1995, Bus Projects (Vic) presents Notions of Care, an exhibition of video, ceramic sculpture and textiles by Polly Stanton, Kate Tucker and Katie West. Making use of the dimly lit and womb-like underground space, the artists interact with their work as a way to highlight the connection between art and acts of nurturing. Just around the corner, members from Queensland’s Digi Youth Arts will take over a portion of Bidencopes Lane for Where we stand, a huge mural painted with the help of young Indigenous people.

Additional standout events in Hobiennale include Sancintya Mohini Simpson’s Remnants of my ancestors (Boxcopy, Qld), Boomalli Now (Boomalli Aboriginal Artist Co-operative, NSW) and performance/participatory dinner party, FELTfood (FELTspace, SA). A fitting conclusion to the 2019 program is Desire Lines Cake Parade (Desire Lines, NSW), a competitive event in which participants are asked to bake a cake and then create a wearable costume replicating their tasty confection.

Various locations around Hobart
15 November – 23 November

Preview Words by Briony Downes