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Online exhibition poetically explores the impacts of the pandemic

Sydney – Wednesday 23 February, 2022. The Sydney Opera House in association with Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab (C-LAB) and the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan, today launched the second chapter of Returning: a serial digital exhibition by artists from Asia and Australia that poetically explores the impacts of the pandemic.

Returning: Chapter 2 features four newly-commissioned moving image works by Australian and Taiwanese artists and collectives, Amrita HepiSu Yu-Hsin & Angela GohRiverbed Theatre and Charwei Tsai. Conceived as an online contemporary art project exclusive to Stream – the Opera House’s content platform – this chapter builds upon Returning: Chapter 1, launched in May 2021, showcasing a dynamic range of artists’ voices and their responses to the unique turbulent experiences of the pandemic.

Sydney Opera House Contemporary Art Curator, Micheal Do says: “Using sound, the body, the Opera House and the virtual as their muses, these artists have created scenes, scores and states of existence that span innocence, happiness, the sublime, despair, rage, confusion and imagination. They have set their ambition to challenge us to be genuinely critical and thoughtful — asking us, as thinkers, as feelers and as witnesses to the past two years, to interrogate and engage more thoughtfully with the world around us.”

The four artworks,  available to watch now for free, are:

  • Amrita Hepi, The Anguilla pursuit –  takes inspiration from migration of the freshwater eels, Anguilla Anguilla, who travel over over 2000km from New Caledonia to freshwaters of the Royal Botanic Gardens. In this split channel work, Hepi personifies their journey home through the Sydney Opera House and into the waters that surround in a dynamic chase scene. Through metaphor and allusion, Hepi’s work explores the physical and psychological dimensions of the 'oceanic feeling'.
  • Su Yu-Hsin and Angela Goh, Tidal Variations – using the lenses of technology, ecofeminism and the body, artists Su Yu-Hsin and Angela Goh reimagine the Opera House as a speculative data centre drifting upon water where undersea cables converge. Through language, sound, animation, dance and archival footage, their artwork weaves together a layered portrait of space, time and the virtual. The artists collaborated with curator and writer Sonia Fernández Pan to develop their script. 
  • Riverbed Theatre, The Weight of Things – the whirling of mysterious instruments, charcoal dust created by crawling bodies and suspended limbs transport audiences into a surrealist dreamscape that reveals the hardships and uncertainties of physical and emotional survival. Threaded together with a dramatic score, evocative cinematography and suggestive narrative, The Weight of Things stirs deep contemplation and reflection about our current moment, where, despite the darkness, we celebrate the fiercely indomitable will to survive. 
  • Charwei Tsai, Numbers – filmed across natural Australian environments and the Sydney Opera House, Taiwanese artist Charwei Tsai’s Numbers is an evocative black and white meditation on trauma, grief and discord. Collaborating with musician Stephen O’Malley of SUNN O))), KTL, and Khanate, Tsai’s soundtrack features five Sydney-based opera singers, each commissioned to sing numbers significant to each artist, recounting experiences of separation, to the ages of loved ones and rising death tolls.

Sydney Opera House Head of Digital Programming, Stuart Buchanan says: “Through the Opera House’s digital-first commissioning program, we’re thrilled to champion this dynamic range of voices from the Australian and Taiwanese contemporary art community. This chapter features invigorating visual responses to the unique experiences of a globally-impactful pandemic. By exhibiting these works on Stream, audiences anywhere in the world can access this timely and powerful exhibition.”

Returning: Chapter 2 is co-curated with C-LAB and supported by the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan

For media information, please contact:

Julia Barnes
Senior Communications Manager
0402 678 589