Katthy Cavaliere Suspending Moment Fellowship

$300,000 awarded to 3 artists in new female-focussed prize

Frances Barrett, Giselle Stanborough and Sally Rees have taken out the inaugural Katthy Cavaliere Fellowship to realise ambitious new work.

Words: Annie Tonkin

Three artists, three institutions, $300,000. Frances Barrett, Giselle Stanborough and Sally Rees have taken out the inaugural Katthy Cavaliere Fellowship for female-identifying artists, established in the name of Italian-born, Australian artist Katthy Cavaliere.

The fellowship invited female-identifying artists and collectives to submit proposals for a new project focused at the intersection of installation and performance art practice. The winners each receive a whopping $100,000 to realise an ambitious new work to exhibit in individual shows at Melborne’s ACCA (Barrett), Sydney’s Carriageworks (Stanborough) and Hobart’s MONA (Rees) in 2020.

“This is a life-changing opportunity,” says Stanborough of the achievement. “It gives me the freedom to work at a scale I have barely dared to imagine prior to winning the Katthy Cavaliere Fellowship, so it is a significant shift in my practice, which comes with a new set of challenges that I am excited to grapple with over the next year.”

In an industry often still dominated by men, this fellowship is an exciting opportunity for female-identifying artists to take a step forward. “Female-identifying artists are still under-represented in our institutions,” notes Rees. “For such a generous bequest to support three of us to each realise our vision in such a high-profile manner will go some way towards redressing this imbalance. I feel so privileged to be such an exception”.

Stanborough agrees: “Giving opportunities to female identifying and gender diverse artists is so important, and the framing around the Katthy Cavaliere Fellowship highlights the feminist modalities inherent in Katthy’s practice.”

With almost 300 applications, the fellowship selection panel had a difficult decision to make in selecting the winners. The panel included Carriageworks director of programs Daniel Mudie Cunningham; MONA founder David Walsh and co-director of exhibitions and collections and senior curator Nicole Durling; and ACCA director Max Delany and senior curator Annika Kristensen. Of the chosen fellows they said: “Each are exceptional artists working at the forefront of experimental performance and installation practices. Each presented proposals that are especially fitting of Katthy’s legacy.”

All three artists are already working hard to realise their 2020 shows. Barrett is working on a sound and light installation that will transform ACCA into a space of audition. “Katthy’s work influences my thinking around temporality and the body,” says the artist. “Her performances were often durational and addressed her past using photographs, diaries or childhood belongings. The proximities between personal and public, past and present, healing and trauma are so close in her work that Katthy dispels linear notions of time, to instead create an affecting space that blurs distinctions between then and now. I intend my work to similarly enquire into duration, ephemerality, temporalities and intimacies, and to centralise the role of the body.”

Rees will create a work that acts as an antidote to the perceived invisibility of ageing women in contemporary society, seeking to redefine the female elder as a powerful and transgressive figure. “Cavaliere was never afraid to be fully and frankly present in her work, I aspire to her incredibly poetic translations and considerations of her autobiography,” she says.

Stanborough is contemporising Foucault’s theory of the Panopticon with her own personal online archive, creating an immersive performance installation where audiences will see their reflection in unpredictable ways. “I have many neurotic anxieties about being seen, about visibility, which I think is totally reasonable given the ways that visibility and the attention economy can seduce us as users into malleable citizens,” says the artist. “Maybe performance and installation was a strange choice for someone with my temperament, because I get very nervous. But this prize isn’t really about me. This is about Katthy.”

Image: ACCA director Max Delany, artist Frances Barrett, Carriageworks director of programs Daniel Mudie Cunningham, artist Giselle Stanborough, MONA co-director of exhibitions and collections and senior curator Nicole Durling and artist Sally Rees. Photo: Daniel Boud.

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