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Artist Talk
Saturday, 2:00 pm
March 25, 2023

Connection, Care and Community: A Collection of Shared Readings

Join Torika Bolatagici, artist, writer and founder of the Community Reading Room to share excerpts from texts pivotal to her practice, with a focus on the themes of connection, care, collections and community.

Audience members are invited to bring and share a passage from a text that connects to these themes.

A pop-up community reading room will be installed at CCP from 17 March.

Free entry. No bookings required.

Dr Torika Bolatagici is a Fijian-Australian artist, writer and academic working across multiple disciplines including photography, video, projection, publication, installation and curation. Torika’s work shifts between the languages of documentary, archival recovery, re-enactment and abstraction to explore the tensions and intersections between race, gender, power, commodification and globalisation. She is the recipient of grants from the Australian Research Council (current co-investigator), Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria and the National Association of Visual Arts and her work has been exhibited in public and private institutions in San Francisco, New York, Miami, Taiwan, Mexico City, Yogyakarta and throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia. Torika also produces multidisciplinary projects centering the counter-narrative of marginalised histories and knowledges through curatorial collaboration, symposia and public programming, such as the Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival Symposium, the Pacific Photobook Project and the Community Reading Room. She is a sessional lecturer in the School of Art, RMIT.

Torika established The Community Reading Room (CRR) in 2013. It grew out of a community need for a collection and space for First Nations, Black, global Indigenous artists of colour to connect with each other and an archive of books and ephemera that privileged the creative practices of their kin,
ancestors and peers. The CRR was also established as a response to shared lived-experiences of practitioners and students who were exhausted by a monocultural art curriculum that ignored their presence, excluded their historical contributions and contemporary reference points. Over the past nine years, the CRR has evolved from a static collection, to one that incorporates a co-curated program of exhibitions and events to engage the public with the themes arising from the collection. The CRR has been presented at Colour Box Studio (2013), Footscray Community Arts Centre (2014), Arts House (2017), Testing Grounds (2017 & 2019) and Metro Arts (2022) and engaged with public programming events with the Emerging Writers Festival (2017/19) and MPavilion (2021). With each iteration, Torika partners with artists and collectives who are interested in working outside formal institutional frameworks to create a counterspace for critical dialogue and alternative modes for creative practice and presentation. The ongoing project aims to create a life-affirming space that values and centres the breadth and depth of creative practices and art writing that exist outside the Western canon. It is intended as a welcoming, life-affirming space for marginalised folks to be in contemplation and in-conversation with each other without the weight of the institutional gaze.