Responding to our collective moment in time, Returning offers succinct meditations on the events, experiences and propositions prompted by the pandemic.
As we navigate our re-entry into the public realm, we have emerged into a world increasingly drained of wonder and physical connection. After living our separate, secluded lives, we are not the same people we were a year ago. Though restrictions have relaxed and populations are gaining immunity, our present is still uncertain. Globalisation has seemingly been put on hold, the legacy of Colonialism has been brought to the fore, while radicalisation is more present and the effects of climate change more real.
Against this backdrop, Sydney Opera House has commissioned several artist perspectives from Australia and Asia to accrue, gather and snowball the mood swings of the past year, transforming our private and societal reorientations into works that ring fresh and clear. While much of the imagery is drawn from the past twelve months, these works are more than mere artefacts of the pandemic. The artists have created enduring works that beat with a rhetorical urgency. Conceived as online moving image works, video is used as a tool to navigate forward. They have taken to individual forms of political activism and social commentary, creating works that impel us to view the recent past differently, while asking what the future might portend.
Through poetic metaphors and expressive soundtracks, graveness and humour, focused videography and experimental moving image, the artists demonstrate that art is not only a dream or a vision, but can contain a skeleton architecture for our lives. By leaning, listening, watching and adjusting ourselves to the new rhythms of the unknown, these screen-based works offer us glimmers of how to find our way again and make sense of our changing surroundings as we return - return to the world, return to each other and most importantly, return to ourselves.
Accompanying each artwork are behind the scenes video interviews as well as past works by the artists. A series of personal essays by a selection of writers unravelling each artists’ response will be released later this year.
Returning: Chapter 1 is co-presented with The Japan Foundation, Sydney. Returning: Chapter 2 launches in late 2021.
Yu Araki (Japan)
Caroline Garcia (Australia)
Cherine Fahd (Australia)
Koki Tanaka (Japan)