Alana Hunt is an artist, writer and culture producer living on Miriwoong Country in the remote north-west of Australia. Her work distills complex and controversial issues into personal encounters that are challenging, poetic, and at once absurd and meaningful. The capacity of art and ideas to intervene in and give shape to the public sphere lies at the foundation of what she does. South Asia and remote Australia are central to her life and work.
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. The participatory memorial Cups of nun chai (2010-2017) emerged from the summer of 2010 where over 100 people died in pro-freedom protests. 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. Read more about this journey here.
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.
Alana’s work is influenced by conceptual and participatory artistic traditions, along with an array of writers and thinkers and activists around the world, and 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. The politics of nation-making, the ambiguous nature of modernity, and the fabric of community run through her work in quiet yet consistent and challenging ways.
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 (2004-2007). 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 from artistic development to governance and training. 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 and was awarded the Red Thread Grant for artists who are also parents. In 2017 Alana will participate in the Australia Council’s Future Leaders Program. From mid-2017 over 100 newspapers from the serialisation of Cups of nun chai will inhabit public reading rooms and libraries around the world, starting in Delhi. In April 2017 Alana will launch The Border Line – a place, a platform, and an invitation for experimental research and practice into border lines of the land and the mind. The Border Line is connected to Alana’s in-laws land, located on Miriwoong country in the remote north-west of Australia, which straddles both sides of the Western Australia and Northern Territory border.
Her art and writing have appeared in various publications including Artlink, Runway, Chart, un Magazine, Dawn, The Times of India and The Guardian (UK) among other publications and exhibition catalogues. Her recent article A mere drop in the sea of what is, published by 4A Papers, explores 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