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The second Mordant Family VR commission has been awarded to Joan Ross who will realise an ambitious project in the style of a video game for ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image).

Valued at $80,000, the award allows the recipient to develop a new work using Virtual Reality technology. “In establishing this commission, we sought to offer established artists the chance to harness the creative potential of VR to extend their practice,” said ACMI director and CEO Katrina Sedgwick. “Joan Ross powerfully persuaded the judging panel that not only did VR offer a new canvas but its immersive and interactive qualities would enable her to challenge the viewer in different ways though an artwork that powerfully explored the ongoing legacy of colonization.”

Ross works with a range of media using a collage approach, often injected with dashes of acerbic fluorescents to disrupt an ideal setting. Her proposed work, titled Did you ask the river?,will allow participants to explore an unsettling colonial landscape from the embodied perspective of an 18th-century colonial woman.

The artist said, “The commission will allow me to experiment and play in the arena of VR and I can’t wait to get started.”

Did you ask the river? will premiere at ACMI and an edition will be accessioned into ACMI’s collection.

Ross was selected by a panel comprised of Natalie Kane, curator of digital design at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; John Allsopp of Web Directions; Rebecca Coates, director of the Shepparton Art Museum; Seb Chan, ACMI CEO; Fiona Trigg, ACMI senior curator; and co-chairs Simon Mordant AM and ACMI director and CEO Katrina Sedgwick.

The commission is created in partnership with Catriona and Simon Mordant AM, the City of Melbourne and ACMI. The shortlisted artists for the 2018 commission included Chris Caines and Alex Davies, Unknown Fields, Phillip George, Baden Pailthorpe, and Khaled Sabsabi. The previous recipient was Dr Christian Thompson, and his VR work, Bayi Gardiya, will premiere at ACMI later this year. 

Zara Sigglekow