Collaboration is something we celebrate at NETS Victoria. As an organisation that centres on working closely with galleries, curators and artists to create Preface touring exhibitions, we see collaboration as one of our defining traits. What better way to reveal our passion for collaboration than to present an exhibition that asks artists to work together, ‘riff’ off each other and consider old works in a new light? FEM-aFFINITY achieves just that.
NETS Victoria is delighted to work with Arts Project Australia to present FEM-aFFINITY, an exhibition that explores the female psyche and collaboration between artists of mixed abilities. Curator Catherine Bell has paired together female artists from Arts Project Australia and from the wider Australian art world to explore similarities and differences in their work. The end result is an outstanding exhibition that speaks to feminism, inclusion and collaborative practices.
Arts Project Australia makes a huge contribution to the diversification of our arts landscape by championing artists living with disability. Working with their fantastic team has demonstrated how they are innovators within both the arts and disability sectors. One of the main strengths of this exhibition is the fact that all the artists involved see themselves first and foremost as artists, and it is so rewarding to see that their shared experiences have sparked new friendships that will live on well beyond this tour.
Through this exhibition tour, NETS Victoria is excited to provide opportunities for artists to travel to each destination, to give talks or workshops or to participate in panel discussions. For us, this signifies further ways in which we can collaborate with the artists, extend their involvement in the exhibition and bring their art to life. It also creates new ways of working with regional galleries and their audiences, enabling a deeper engagement with the exhibition. We like to think of this as a trickle-down effect, where hosting a NETS Victoria show can offer increased support to everyone involved – from exhibition-makers to exhibition-goers. In this way, these exhibitions become larger than the sum of their parts, beginning connections and relationships that engage multiple levels of the artistic community.
By bringing these artists together through the notion of affinity, Bell has shown an acute perception of the people around her. This exhibition and catalogue celebrate the shared understandings of these artists together with Bell’s curatorial underpinning of the show: questioning established categories and hierarchies of practice, acknowledging voices and identities and embracing feminist principles of collaboration. Through Bell’s essay and the writings of Jacqueline Millner and Sim Luttin, we are invited to participate in this dialogue and become collaborators ourselves.