Venetian Blind – A New Model for PhD Research in the Creative Arts

Assoc. Prof. Cameron Bishop and Prof. David Cross (Deakin University)
2019 Conference

The role of the university in building professional development opportunities for creative arts HDR candidates has changed in recent times. Where the notion of academic research in our discipline has largely seen the annexing of a thesis from the idea of industry application, universities are being increasingly encouraged to link research with ‘career’ opportunity. This paper will examine as a case study, a recent research project developed by Deakin’s Public Art Commission that sought to connect researchers and HDR candidates in the making of a large-scale project in conjunction with the Venice Biennale. Titled ‘Venetian Blind’, this exhibition/ public art work featured 16 researchers and 7 HDR candidates who were each invited to make a site-based, or performative intervention, into the city of Venice responding to a bespoke provocation developed by the curators. Working in small teams that included both academics and PhD candidates, the project (which is still in train) is taking place over six months (one per month). The artists encounter the provocations ‘blind’ so to speak, with no prior warning of what they are being asked to. The curatorial frame prefaces in situ site analysis and research while highlighting the possibilities of both HDR and academic researchers working collectively to develop new understandings of Venice, its features and history.

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About the author

Cameron Bishop (PhD) is an artist, writer and curator lecturing in Art and Performance at Deakin University. As a curator he has helped initiate a number of public art projects including Treatment (2015/17) at the Western Treatment Plant; Sounding Histories at the Mission to Seafarers Melbourne with Annie Wilson; and the ongoing VACANTGeelong project with architectural and creative arts researchers, and leading Australian artists to explore and activate spaces left behind by de-industrialisation. As the recipient of a number of grants, awards and commissions he has been acknowledged for his community-focused approach to public art.


David Cross is an artist, writer and curator based in Melbourne. Working across performance, installation, video and photography, Cross explores the relationship between pleasure, intimacy and the phobic in his works, and often incorporates participation by linking performance art with object-based environments. As a curator Cross has produced a number of temporary public projects, including One Day Sculpture (with Claire Doherty) across New Zealand in 2008-09, and Iteration: Again in Tasmania in 2011. He recently co-founded the research initiative Public Art Commission (PAC) at Deakin University which is devoted to the commissioning and scholarship of temporary public art. Recent PAC projects co-developed with Cameron Bishop include, Treatment with Melbourne Water and City of Wyndham (2015-17), Venetian Blind with European Cultural Centre, Venice (2019), and Six Moments in Kingston for the City of Kingston (2019). Cross is currently Professor of Visual Arts, Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University, Melbourne.