Alana Hunt’s practice is grounded in the capacity of art and ideas to shape the social space between people and the public sphere. She makes contemporary art, writes, produces media, and occasionally curates. The politics of nation-making and the fabric of community run through her work in quiet yet consistent ways. Her practice often investigates the colonial past and present of Australia and South Asia, distilling complex and controversial issues into personal encounters that are challenging and poetic, at once absurd and meaningful.
Since 2009, Alana’s most comprehensive bodies of work have emerged through ongoing conversations with the sounds and currents that emanate from occupied Kashmir. The tactical media intervention, Paper txt msgs from Kashmir (2009-2011), responded to a ban on all pre-paid phones in the region. This work won the Fauvette Laureiro Artists Travel Scholarship (2011). The participatory memorial Cups of nun chai (2010-2017) emerged from the summer of 2010 where over 100 people died in pro-freedom protests and unfolded over two years of tea, conversation and blogging. In mid-2016 Cups of nun chai began its latest iteration as a newspaper serial published in the daily newspaper, Kashmir Reader three times a week over an eleven month period, reaching tens of thousands of people on a weekly basis in the most densely militarised place in the world. In 2017 Cups of nun chai won the Incinerator Award for art and social change. These newspapers are now bound into three volumes that continue to travel and act as a catalyst for conversation, memory and thought.
Alana has made work about the subtlety of rebellion found in scratched tobacco tins, the holes in the fences of sheep farms around Kandos in rural NSW, and the short cuts that have been rendered into the land by the repetition of feet and tyres in the town where she lives. She has made videos that connect swarms of grasshoppers in the north-west of Australia with student movements in India. In the epic work Mother Alana filmed a dog giving birth to eleven puppies over 24 hours. She has produced video stories during curfew in Kashmir and documented the hand-written signs that inhabit the toilets of a hostel for female students in Delhi. Her most recent body of work, Between you and me, explores the violence, of the past and present, that shapes her personal relationships, the town where she lives and the worlds we share through video, photography and collage.
Alana’s work is influenced by conceptual and participatory artistic traditions, along with an array of writers and thinkers and activists from around the world, along with the many places and people that form her worlds in South Asia and remote Australia. Her art making, writing and curating blur disciplinary boundaries by engaging with discourses conventionally understood as distinct from the arts—including journalism, history, and the domestic sphere.
Alana completed her undergraduate degree in Visual Arts (media arts) with first class honours from Sydney College of the Arts at the University of Sydney. From 2008-2010 she was based in New Delhi where she undertook a 5 month residency with the Sarai Programme and completed an MA from The School of Arts and Aesthetics of Jawaharlal Nehru University.
From 2011-2015 Alana was Assistant Manager and Curator at Warmun Art Centre. Led by senior Gija artists her work here was driven by the need to strengthen and maintain Gija knowledges locally and share them in compelling ways with the wider world. As the longest employed non-Gija staff member in the history of the organisation Alana has worked across all areas of the centre. Under the direction of senior Gija artists and in collaboration with a team of linguists, Alana was central to the development of cultural maintenance projects that have led to exhibitions, videos and bilingual publications circulating within Warmun, around Australia, and internationally. These experiences have given Alana extensive curatorial and program management skills, specific to the terrain of remote Australia and a glimpse of the world views and laws that give shape to Gija country.
In 2011 Alana was awarded the Fauvette Laureiro Memorial Artists Travel Scholarship which enabled her to return to Kashmir in 2012, and present her work at Open Engagement at the Queens Museum, NYC in 2014. In 2016 Alana was the sub-editor of un Magazine and participated in the 4A Curators’ Intensive. She is currently undertaking an Artist Residency in Motherhood (2016-2021) and was awarded the Red Thread Grant for artists who are also parents. In 2017 Alana was a participant in the Australia Council’s Future Leaders Program.
In 2018 Alana will travel to Indonesia as a resident artist with Rumata Art Space as part of the Makassar International Writer’s Festival where she will present Cups of nun chai. She will also present Cups of nun chai at Parsons The New School of Design in New York this November as part of the peer-reviewed Project Anywhere.
Alana lives on Miriwoong country in the remote north-west of Australia. She has exhibited, published, and presented nationally and internationally. She has received major prizes and grants from the Australia Council for the Arts, The Ian Potter Cultural Trust and Culture and the Arts WA among others. Her work is held in both public and private collections including Artbank and the Macquarie Group Collection.
A mere drop in the sea of what is, published by 4A Papers, explored the visual culture circulating from Kashmir via the ‘streets of social media’. Portions of this paper made it into the Hansard report of the Australian parliament, evidence that we are not working in isolated echo chambers but massive cultural ecosystems with porous borders.
email: skyabovetheclouds [at] hotmail [dot] com