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#unmaskedselfiesinsolidarity

From Digital Artivism to the Collective Care of Social Art in Public Space

Abstract

Contemporary mobile media affords new insights into social and creative practices while expanding our understanding of what kinds of public space matter. With the continual rise of the social in contemporary art which sees relationships as the medium, smartphones have become important devices for individual political expression, social exchange and now contemporary art. This article draws on media studies and contemporary art theories to discuss #unmaskedselfiesinsolidarity (2020), a socially engaged artwork engaging more than 300 contributors in a few short weeks within the online and physical spaces of RMIT University in the heart of Melbourne, Australia. This artwork was instigated during the initial February 2020 outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China in response to expressions of fear and isolation, travel bans, and growing racism targeting international students. It employed one of the most pervasive barometers of popular and public culture today, the selfie. Through its messages of care alongside signs of solidarity from Chinese students suffering anxiety and isolation, #unmaskedselfiesinsolidarity moved individual selfie expressions of identity into the realm of socially engaged arts and public space.

Published:
Pages:87 to 106
Section: Art and Activism
How to Cite
Lanson, K., Badham, M. and Wong Hulbert, T. (2020) “#unmaskedselfiesinsolidarity”, The Journal of Public Space, 5(4), pp. 87-106. doi: https://doi.org/10.32891/jps.v5i4.1390.

Author Biographies

RMIT University
Australia Australia

Klare Lanson is an artist researcher investigating digital tensions and mobile entanglement in relation to mediated experiences of home, parenting, and networked versions of self. She is a sessional instructor in Media Cultures at RMIT University, School of Design. Lanson's current PhD research is a creative practice ethnography in digital parenting practices specific to working mothers. Using online participatory encounters and socially engaged listening work that moves through mobile media studies and the philosophy of sound and listening, her recent collaborative art projects include #unmaskedselfiesinsolidarity (2020), #wanderingcloud (2012–2015), Commute (2015–2017) and mobile media art ethnography #TouchOnTouchOff (2017). Recent publications include International Encyclopedia of Gender, Media, and Communication (with Larissa Hjorth, 2020), and Digital Culture & Society (2019). Klare is also co-editor of the Routledge Companion to Mobile Media Art (with Larissa Hjorth and Adriana de Souza e Silva, 2020), and was co-editor of the Australian literary anthology Going Down Swinging.

RMIT University
Australia Australia

With a twenty-five-year history of art and social justice practice Australia and Canada, Marnie's research sits at the intersection of socially engaged art, community-based methodologies and the politics of cultural measurement. Marnie is currently focused on a series of creative cartographies registering emotion in public space; expanded curation projects on the aesthetics and politics of food; and a monograph, The Social Life of Artist Residencies: connecting with people and place not your own. Marnie is Senior Research Fellow at the School of Art at RMIT University.

Tammy Wong Hulbert is a visual artist, curator and academic focused on exploring the complex and often fragmented spaces between cultures in a globalising world. She expresses these ideas through her artistic and curatorial projects, which focus on socially engaged practices working with various urban communities. Her broader area of research focuses on curating the inclusive city and how this can contribute towards dialogues on the right to the city, expanding from her doctoral research on The City as a Curated Space, completed in 2011 at RMIT University, Melbourne. Tammy's career has spanned working as an artist, curating, lecturing and researching in the field of contemporary art. Tammy lives and works in Melbourne, Australia and currently lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne in Curating Contemporary Art & Expanded Curating in the Masters of Arts (Arts Management) program for the School of Art. 

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