Sustained Connection through Material Dialogue: International collaborative painting during the COVID-19 pandemic

Harrison See (Edith Cowan University)
2021 Conference

This paper discusses early findings from cross-cultural collaborative research that initially proposed travel to South-East Asia prior to the advent of COVID-19. This practice-led research (PLR) explores emergences between diverse positions through the material practice of collaborative painting. This PLR is dialogic in its approach, engaging with collaborative practice as a process of intersubjective meaning-making through reciprocated utterances. Although utterances are traditionally conceived as units of speech, this PLR has extended this concept to also include written and material units of language within a space that embraces the plurality of meaning. The PLR project began with a prescribed model of face-to-face collaboration in mind, which due to COVID-19 quickly became an impossibility. In the face of social distancing and international border restrictions this initial approach to collaboration was adapted to include postage-based exchanges. Although this was an initially reluctant adaptation, postage proved an effective tool for keeping both local and international networks connected and active in ways that online communication lacked. This paper specifically discusses two international postage-based collaborations that took place between artists living in Perth, London and Hong Kong. The artists in these two projects pursued the material exchange of painting and also negotiated the lag and limitations of snail-mail.

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About the author

Harrison See is a contemporary artist and researcher interested in exploring how symbolism and allegory can negotiate cultural divergences. His practice-led research examines how a dialogic approach to cross-cultural collaboration can disrupt and expand an artist’s approach to painting. See is a PhD candidate in the School of Arts and Humanities, Edith Cowan University, as well as a New Colombo Plan Alumni and the recipient of a Research Training Program Scholarship.