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
10 - 24 Aug 2018 | Return Flight goes to Exchange Christchurch, New Zealand.
This project is supported by the City of Melbourne Annual Arts Grants Program.
Project Partner Going Down Swinging
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 TIBBLE, MATARIKI WILLIAMS, SEAN M WHELAN, ANDY JACKSON, JEANINE LEANE, DIDEM CAIA, ELLEN VAN NEERVEN
Fasten your seatbelts! And welcome aboard Return Flight MEL>CHC: a multidisciplinary, trans-Tasman trip from Melbourne to Christchurch, and back again.
For our second edition, Return Flight asked ten artists from Melbourne and New Zealand to create works that commented on the theme of 'home'. We then paired each artwork with a writer from the opposite place and asked them to respond. Writers could engage with the artworks however they liked, but we didn't let them off that easy: artists' identities were withheld until the very end.
Afterwards, we sat our artists down for a Skype call with their assigned writers to discuss the collaborative process.
You'll find the transcripts of these conversations in the print edition of Return Flight: MEL>CHC, and you'll see and hear them at our Melbourne and Christchurch launches.
Curated by Elizaveta Maltseva, edited by Megan Anderson and designed by Jacqui Hagen, Return Flight features works and interviews by Drew Pettifer, TextaQueen, Sean M. Whelan and Selina Tusitala Marsh, which merge (or clash) Australia with Aotearoa, and ask whether the world really is as vast and disconnected as it feels.
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.
Opening documentation by Matto Lucas and Melbourne Art review
IMAGES | Inge Flinte, Rising Ground, 2018, acrylic, oil pastel, and pencil on canvas, 50 x 70cm | Jade Walsh, Right Man, Left Woman (Rainbow Blue), acrylic, screenprint and thread on canvas, 90 x 55cm | TextaQueen, The Perfect Getaway, pigment ink on cotton rag, 59.4 x 84.1cm | Courtesy of the artists.