Education and Arts

The exhibition Talkback

A touring exhibition of video, photography and visual art was on display at our Melbourne gallery this winter. Developed by Tania Ferrier, the ' Talkback' project welcomed ACU staff and students and public visitors. 

A defiant protest against oppression, issues of social justice and power, TALKBACK is a hybrid arts installation that aims to explore the intersections of race and identity. The main exhibit is a video collage titled TALKBACK that features interviews with sixty-six Americans and Australians, including prominent artists, who discuss aspects of their histories and aspirations. The project seeks to encourage dialogue about belonging, blackness, whiteness and intergenerational continuity and change.

While the exhibition was running we spoke with Tania to find out more about her featured work and her work as an Artist.  

"I've been working on the project since 2012, on the back of getting a grant in Western Australia called the 'Go anywhere' residency – this is a grant that is awarded to artists who pitch a project idea of where you want to go in the world and why you want to go there."

Why did you choose to do this exhibition?

"I had connected with the urban Noongar people in Perth through a previous project I worked on entitled the 'The Quod Project' about Rottnest Island, and learnt a lot about history. Later, while I was in the remote areas of Western Australia working, I discovered a lot more about 'Aboriginal culture' through the youth in the communities I worked with. What I saw filled in the gap for me as I realised how isolated and centred on American rapper gangster culture their world view was through TV.

That's when I thought of how I could bring this Black American culture that they love so much back to their communities, 'the real life stories of African Americans', not just the rapper and gangster. I wanted to go back to America, where I had lived before in the early 1990's, and try to connect up these two stories so that Aboriginal people could see the real life of an African Americans and  African Americans could see the life of Australian Aboriginals.

This was achieved through 66 interviews with 33 participants in the United States and 33 participants in Australia. The project became broader, including the interviews of other minority groups in each country which were also edited into the video collage.

What inspires your work?

"I have always been interested in projects where there is a barrier in communication. I have been working on these types of projects for a while and I also do feminist work. The medium has not always been that important to me. For a while I worked in painting until I realised that the painting world was always going to be commercial and that commercial galleries aren't interested in making a statement. So then I shifted to something I thought would allow me to communicate better and this is when the video medium started to shine for me -video has more reach! "

Do you partner with other Universities?

"ACU I would have to say is so lovely. I'm very thankful to the Gallery Manager and the Visual Arts academics because, I just wandered into the gallery after I had seen students' work in the windows while walking down Brunswick Street.

ACU has been so welcoming, I described the exhibition to the academics and they said it would be suitable and were happy for me to show. I put in an application and was approved to show in June.  

After having our exhibition in this ACU gallery space we have realised how appropriate it is for Universities, as it showcases issues relevant to the study of humanities."

What advice would you give to our students?

Its worth perusing statement work! There are a few boundaries with this line of work as commercial galleries will not be the place to make these kinds of statements - however look for public spaces and university galleries.

Another important thing is to not be tied down by the medium but to stay focused on what the message is and how to get it out to a broad audience. Collaboration is essential! I was very alone in my early years as a painter but over time I have learnt how to not see myself but to make the art the important aspect and inviting other people to be involved in making the statement.

Get on the freedom bus, have fun with it and meet heaps of people!

For more information on Talkback or to contact Tania Ferrier, click here.

Tania - Exhibition TalkbackPictured above, Tania Ferrier

Time copy - Exhibition Talk back Image pictured above is part of the Exhibition Talkback display

Exhibition Talkback Part of the Exhibition Talkback

Exhibition Talkback 1Part of the Exhibition Talkback display

Exhibition Talkback lightboxPart of the Exhibition Talkback display