Thinking Business is a new exhibition by Barbara Cleveland that explores forms of female friendship, collaboration and artistic labour. The project takes its title from Hannah Arendt’s description of her friendship with Mary McCarthy. As Arendt wrote, “it’s not that we think so much alike, but that we do this thinking-business for and with each other.” This idea of an intellectual and creative connection between women is at the centre of this project, which focuses on the 15-yearlong working relationship between the members of Barbara Cleveland. With the rise of neoliberalism and the acceleration towards individualism and precarity, this project turns towards the collective and the collaborative to consider alternative support structures and other ways of thinking and working together.
Barbara Cleveland is an Australian artist collective directed by Diana Baker Smith, Frances Barrett, Kate Blackmore, and Kelly Doley, working on Gadigal land (Sydney). The collective take their name from the mythic feminist performance artist who they recovered from the margins of Australian art history and who has been a key feature in their work since 2010. Barbara Cleveland’s projects are informed by queer and feminist methodologies that draw on the historical lineages of both the visual and performing arts.
Thinking Business is Barbara Cleveland’s inaugural solo exhibition at a public gallery in Australia.