Harrison See (Edith Cowan University)

Dialogic Painting and Mythology: Cross-cultural collaboration amidst COVID restrictions

Abstract:

This paper discusses early findings from cross-cultural collaborative research that initially proposed travel to South-East Asia prior to COVID. A discussion that focusses on a specific collaborative encounter within this research between contemporary painters Harrison See and Desmond Mah, resulting in a video titled ‘Intermission’ that captured the creation of a large collaborative painting of the same name. This project was financially supported by a creative grant that contractually bound its recipients to adhere to COVID restrictions. Restrictions that offered creative opportunities for these two artists as they reciprocated each other’s painterly utterances within a dialogic exchange between two divergent cultural positions. This dialogic and collaborative approach to myth-making brought to the surface the misinterpretation, misalignment, and at times, the general untranslatability between their cultural positions. As Mah and See drew on their respective socio-cultural iconographies they applied inks, gesso and soy sauce, reworking their own, and each other’s imagery. A space that facilitated the improvisation of a tension-filled fable of hybrid Australian cultural identities. This non-aligned space invited currents of difference, consensus and an avenue for exchange during the sometimes racially dividing COVID crisis.

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Harrison See (Edith Cowan University):