The evening will illustrate an exchange of art residencies which took place this July in Sicily, at the Fondazione Brodbeck in Catania and the Museo Palazzo Riso in Palermo, and in Australia over September and early October, at Durrmu Arts in the Aboriginal community of Peppimenarti, in the Northern Territory, as well as in Gippsland, Victoria.

The project, conceptualised by independent curator and PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne Miriam La Rosa, and co-curated with Kade McDonald, executive director of Durrmu Arts, sought to explore the potential of “innovative cultural practices in places that are remote or peripheral”, through a real-life cultural exchange between artists from differing countries.

La Rosa’s PhD topic is about exploring the artist residency from the perspective of hospitality.

She is interested in the relational roles between host and guest, which manifest in a process of exchange.

“What generally happens during residencies is that the artist is always the guest and the institution or curator or person who is receiving is always the host,” La Rosa said.

“With this sort of project we wanted to subvert the roles and experience and explore what happens when these roles are no longer static, but changing.”

The project involved three artists, who will all be attending tonight’s event at the IIC: Regina Pilawuk Wilson, a Ngan’ngikurrungurr woman, senior artist and cultural director of Durrmu Arts; Steaphan Paton, an artist from the Gunai and Monero Nations based in Melbourne; and Giuseppe Lana, a Sicilian artist who lives and works between Catania and London.

“The idea was for them to experience different artistic and cultural contexts,” La Rosa said.

“Regina came to Sicily in July, then we went to Gippsland, hosted by Steaphan, and then all of us including Giuseppe went to Peppimenarti; we just came back two days ago.”

Participating Sicilian artist Lana said that sharing his practice with Pilawuk Wilson and the community of Peppimenarti was “very intense, with a mix of different emotions”.

“[Peppimenarti] is an impressive remote community, surrounded by strong, wild nature and populated with amazing people,” Lana added.

“With Regina and Xena we also went to see Wudy, another community where Regina was born.

“In both places I felt the energy of those people.

“Being born and raised in the community makes you a different person, a great person, with different points of view because of the different environments, and a strong person absolutely. 

“At least this is what I caught during my short residency in Peppimenarti.” 

According to Lana, the most important aspect of the experience was the human interaction and interpersonal relationships established during the residency.

“Art in this context has been a vehicle to encourage cultural exchange,” he said.

Participants undertook fieldwork trips and guided visits in the different locations, with a mediator at all time accompanying the host and the guest.

“We got in touch with different artists and different art spaces like museums and galleries to understand how the art world works in three different places,” La Rosa said.

The word curate comes from the Latin curare: to take care of.

“That’s generally what curating is considered to be: an activity of care,” La Rosa affirmed.

“It’s about working together with practitioners, artists, other curators and different people for the realisation of a project where we have a common goal.”

With three different artists with diverse approaches and from varying cultural backgrounds, the project had a scope of expanding cultural vision through sharing.

“Sharing together our artistic research made me learn a lot about cultures so far from mine, but at the same time so close in the universal desire to improve the place where we live, in synergy with people, nature and everything that surrounds us,” Lana affirmed.

From Sicily to Peppimenarti will be presented at the IIC Sydney tonight, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, with all participating artists present.

The talk will move to the IIC Melbourne on Thursday, October 10, at 6:30 pm.