RETURN FLIGHT MEL>CHC
11 - 28 Jul 2018
Opening Night | Thursday 12 Jul, 6pm–8pm
Panel Discussion | Saturday 21 July, 2pm
Return Flight contributors in discussion with Elizaveta Maltseva
Curated by Elizaveta Maltseva
PUBLICATION | Curated by Elizaveta Maltseva, designed by Jacqui Hagen and edited by Megan Anderson
10-24 Aug 2018 | Return Flight goes to Christchurch, New Zealand.
Project Supporters |
ARTISTS DREW PETTIFER, JADE WALSH, TEXTAQUEEN, MIKE ELEVEN, KHI-LEE THORPE, INGE FLINTE, CAMERON MAY, PATI SOLOMONA TYRELL, NANCY WILSON, MIRIAMA GRACE-SMITH
WRITERS JAKE ARTHUR, HAMISH CLAYTON, SELINA TUSITALA MARSH, TAYI ASHLEY TIBBLE, MATARIKI WILLIAMS, SEAN M WHELAN, ANDY JACKSON, JEANINE LEANE, DIDEM CAIA, ELLEN VAN NEERVEN
Departing from Melbourne, Australia, Return Flight is an international collaborative project, a cultural exchange opportunity and a multidisciplinary arts platform for emerging and established artists and writers. The project gives Melbourne contributors an opportunity to engage with practitioners outside their field and with international audiences. At the same time international contributors are introduced to the Melbourne audience, thereby further enriching the diverse tapestry of this city’s cultural program and the individual practices of all creative contributors involved.
In 2017, Return Flight MEL>EDI left us with too many questions to allow the project to end as a one-off collaboration. I am so grateful to the fine folk at City of Melbourne for funding Return Flight again, and to the mad team at Going Down Swinging for embarking with me on another round of this multifaceted international collaboration.
Return Flight MEL>CHC aims to unpack the simple yet incredibly complex theme of ‘home’, with the aid of twenty visual artists and writers from Melbourne and New Zealand. Inspired by the previous year’s artist discussions, this theme was selected to both be accessible and stimulating as the point of departure for the artwork commissions. As an exchange project, Return Flight is conceptually grounded in the significance of place and its impact on creative practice. The more we explore place, travel, location, distance and displacement, the more significant home becomes.
The choice of a partner city for this exchange was a simple one. New Zealand is a neighbour we have much in common with, and even more to learn from. In colonised countries like Australia and New Zealand, the conversation about home becomes even more important and illuminating when taken up by traditional owners of the land.
Christchurch as a partner city is also significant. After so much was savagely destroyed by earthquakes in 2011, what remains has been creatively transformed and rebuilt. Christchurch's steady revival is a real testament to the resilience of artistic community, and proves society will always need to express itself and be inspired by the arts.
Now that all commissions are in and all contributors interviewed, I can safely conclude that we are no closer to defining what ‘home’ actually means. Sure, there are several dictionary definitions, but they fail to capture the essence and spirit of the place we invoke when we use that four-letter word. Instead, Return Flight MEL>CHC draws on visual art, writing and conversation to present twenty individual versions of what ‘home’ might mean.
While the artworks and written responses this year are incredibly strong and poignant, I have been especially inspired by some of the conversations I was fortunate to have with the project contributors. In no particular order, here are a couple of personal stand-out moments:
In one conversation, the writer suggested home is where life’s easy; it’s somewhere you know how to be, and you can relax. But, as they also noted, for others home is a place of fear, entrapment and anxiety. The alternative, perhaps, is to find home in community, and maybe the family we build with strangers.
In another conversation, the artist explored the idea that home was their cultural upbringing as a kid, and somewhere they didn’t want to be. Someone they didn’t want to be. It wasn’t until they grew up and moved away that they could look back and, with a deeper appreciation for their culture, build their home anew. The artists and writers explored at length how home is sometimes a place you need to distance yourself from, in order to see and appreciate it clearly. Others noted they don’t know what home is at all; and that’s a conversation worth having just as much as all others.
We might never adequately define what home is, but we do seem to feel it more while we are away.
Elizaveta Maltseva, 2018.