Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Border Crossing Contemporary Art Project


Brief Description of Project

Border Crossing is as an exploration of collaborative art practice, where the artists involved in the project experiment with using multi-layered collaborative processes that traverse geographical and cultural boundaries. Within this framework, the artists reflect on current land occupation, colonisation or ownership issues, and the effects of rural - urban relocation on identity relating to their specific cultural context. The project culminates in a series of art exhibitions to be held in several countries within the Asia Pacific region.

Summary of issues explored in Border Crossing

Summary of issues explored in Border Crossing
  • Collaboration between artists from different cultural backgrounds.
  • Using techniques for art reproduction and communication enabled by contemporary technology.
  • Issues of ownership, copyright and authenticity.
  • How the artists resolve the themes for the work relevant to their cultural backgrounds.
  • Resolving the conflict between individual artists freedom and respect for another artist's work.


The aim of Border Crossing is to conduct an experiment between artists who originate from different cultural environments within the Asia Pacific region, utilising contemporary digital and communication technology to expand the possibilities of creative practice, culminating in a series of exhibitions in several countries. Fundamental to the process is the way the artists communicate across geographical and cultural divides. Border Crossing questions how issues of dissemination of information, image reproduction, ownership and copy write law are resolved and acted upon. The use of fine art reproductions (giclee canvas prints) challenges the authenticity and originality of the artwork. Who owns and therefore receives any monetary reward for a painting that the three painters have worked on? Is it the artist who creates the first painting, or the person who finishes the artwork? Unlike the master apprentice relationship, all three artists are acknowledged equally in contributing to the artwork, although the artist who finishes the painting has the main responsibility and freedom to resolve the finished artwork. Inherent in the process is an element of respect and acknowledgement of another's work. There is a need to adapt to another's painting style and respond accordingly. It is the prerogative of each artist to select which parts of an artwork to retain and which parts to erase or adapt – each artist has the option to completely paint over the other's work. In addition, the art exhibition, enabled by contemporary technology, creates a phylogeny of paintings where the evolution of the completed work can be traced, resembling a family tree.
The intended outcome of the exhibition is to present art work that engages viewers in a multi-country dialogue, stimulating discussion about the issues presented, and promoting collaborations between artists from different cultural backgrounds. There will be a forum available for viewers to respond directly to the works thereby continuing the conversation.
Border Crossing will impact the cultures that we are engaging with by raising awareness of issues concerning negotiating the differences between urban and rural life and critically engage people with issue concerning peoples connections to the land. Border Crossing aims to promote understanding between different cultures via the collaborative nature of the project and it's presentation to a diverse spectrum of people across several countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Connections between the artists

Border Crossing curator, Wendy Grace Allen (nee Dawson) grew up in Palmerston North, New Zealand, making regular visits to her cousins at their nearby family farm. Later,she owned a house in the country where she developed an interested in landscape design, ecological and sustainable gardening, growing fruit and vegetables and keeping bees. Her relationship to the land is informed by her Christian world view of God as creator and our responsibility as caretakers of His creation. In 1996, Wendy moved from Otago where she completed her Diploma of Fine Arts, to Adelaide to study for her Master of Visual Arts degree at the University of South Australia. This is where she met fellow students Helen Stacey and Apichart Pholprasert. She has lived in several places around New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Thailand. She is currently Artist in Residence in Ban Pao Rural Art Centre, Thailand.
A Bangkok based lecturer-artist, Apichart Pholprasert negotiates rural/urban cultural differences in his art practice. The contrasting experience between his childhood in a farming family in North East Thailand, and his relocation(s)to Bangkok, then Adelaide, Australia and Newcastle,U.K, to further his education led him to develop his art making philosophy. This philosophy builds around and responds to, the interconnection between the multiple binaries of rural/urban,low-tech/high-tech, and local/international.
Helen Stacey’s work revolves around the land, where some series include sign and metaphor related to issues of reconciliation and spirituality. In Border Crossing her work celebrates the long awaited post-apology era when reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians can be further advanced and signs of colonisation can become transformed.

Methodology/Implementation of the Project

Collaborative Process

  1. Each artist creates a painting, then follows the pattern below:
    Artist A paints a canvas reflecting on the themes/ideas of the show.
  2. Artist A then takes a digital photograph of their work and emails a copy to the other two artists.
  3. With the digital copy of the image received, Artist B and Artist C each produce a giclee print onto canvas (of specified size).
  4. Artist B then paints on top of a giclee print of the painting made by Artist A, responding to the work and reflecting on the theme of the show.
  5. Artist C also paints on top of a giclee print of the painting made by Artist A.
  6. Artist B takes a digital photograph of the combined artist's work (Artist A and Artist B). The photograph is emailed to Artist C.
  7. Artist C takes a digital photograph of the combined artist's work (Artist A and Artist C ). The photograph is emailed to Artist B.
  8. With the digital copy of the image received, Artist C produces a giclee print onto canvas.
  9. With the digital copy of the image received, Artist B also produces a giclee print onto canvas.
  10. Artist C then paints on top of the giclee canvas print in response to Artists A and B's work.
  11. Artist B also then paints on top of the giclee canvas print in response to Artists A and C's work.
  12. This process is performed three times: once for each of the contributing artist taking the place of Artist A.
The final exhibition will consist of fifteen paintings on canvas: three original fine art paintings on canvas and twelve subsequent collaborative paintings/canvas prints. The process is illustrated in Figure 1, where the artists are labelled A, B and C.

Figure 1: A diagrammatic representation of the collaborative process. Each letter represents an artist. The lines trace the history of a work. For example, the left branch of the left-most tree describes the process of Artist A creating a painting (a copy of) which is passed to Artist B to over paint, then a copy of this new work is passed to Artist C for a second over-painting.
The details of collaborative process can be confusing, so it is helpful to explain it in several different ways. Figure 2 also describes the process, labelling the paintings instead of the artists, and figure 3 shows how the actual artworks fit on to the tree.

Figure 2: An alternative diagrammatic representation of the collaborative process. The nodes of these graphs represent a (finished) painting using the following notation: each painting is labelled by the initials of the artists who have worked on it (see the key in the figure for a list of the initials), with the order of the initials corresponding to the order that the artists worked on the painting. For example, the node WAH represents a work that was originally painted by Wendy Grace Allen, reproduced and painted over by Apichart Pholprasert, reproduced again and finish by Helen Stacey.

Figure 3: Images of the artworks arranged as a “family tree”.
The project is to be exhibited in Bangkok, Thailand, Palmerston North, New Zealand, Adelaide, Australia and Singapore. The target audience includes professional artists, art collectors, art supporters, museum curators and art students.
The Earth's waters are both boundaries and pathways for peoples, objects and ideas.
Fumio Nanjo


Beverly C said...

What a brave and challenging concept. I look forward to future posts on this project. Kind Regards.

Anonymous said...

I'm an artist based in Ubon Ratchathani in North East Thailand. I did my Masters at University of Northumbria where I heard about Apichart from Lecturers an post graduates. My work concerns cross cultural issues which can be seen at The aims of Border crossing are relevant to my own so it was nice to come across the website.


Adam Daniels