Collaborating in isolation


When Adelaide-based Jenna Pippett and Perth-based Tanya Lee were invited to develop a new body of work together, the issue of collaborating across state lines was already an obstacle. So, now that we’re all confined to our living spaces, Pippett is taking the shift philosophically. “These new lockdowns and isolations are helping to clarify the project’s parameters,” she says. “Now we’ll be thinking about our immediate environments.”

For Lee, in particular, borders and boundaries are ongoing concerns: she once dressed up in realistic imitation of fences, walls and hedgerows in her Perth neighbourhood for the 2013 video Personal Space. Another work, Curtilage, 2016, features pairs of neighbours reaching across house boundaries to ‘help’ each other with tasks: in one, a young man standing on his own balcony feeds his neighbour cereal with a comically elongated spoon. The actions are clumsy, but tender.

Pippett’s practice maps the shared spaces of inheritance. Her 2017-18 project Beranek/Little Lamb Cake centres around a cake shaped like a lamb, a Czech Easter tradition that was in previous years baked for the family by her grandfather. For a performance night, the artist baked and (lavishly) decorated a number of lamb cakes to share with the arts community, both expanding the tradition and advocating for “the incredible decorator you can become in your own kitchen”.

Lee and Pippett share a delight in humour and absurdity; as they reimagine their collaboration (now via Zoom instead of in person) this approach seems certain to come to the fore. One of Pippett’s early ideas involves trying to fly a kite in her tiny backyard, reaching skywards to break out of the invisible barrier imposed by lockdown. “There’s something about flying a kite that’s a bit hopeful.”

COLLAB: Jenna Pippett & Tanya Lee
Adelaide Central Gallery

This article was originally published in the May/June 2020 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Please note that due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Adelaide Central Gallery is temporarily closed.

Preview Words by Anna Dunnill