Shivanjani Lal | 2020 Georges Mora Fellowship

The Georges Mora Fellowship is awarded each year to a contemporary artist who has demonstrated excellence and a continuous commitment to the field of contemporary art. For 2020, that artist is Shivanjani Lal.

Shivanjani Lal, Palwaar; installation shot for Create NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship 2019. Photograph: Zan Wimberley

Lal is a twice-removed Fijian-Indian-Australian artist and curator. As an artist living in Australia, she is tied to a long history of familial movement; her work uses personal grief to account for ancestral loss and trauma. She is a member of the indentured labourer diaspora from the Indian and Pacific oceans. She employs intimate images of family, sourced from photo albums, along with video and images from contemporary travels to the Asia-Pacific to reconstruct temporary landscapes. These landscapes act as shifting sites for diasporic healing – from which she emerges. A fundamental concern in her work is how art develops and represents culture as it transitions between contexts, while also probing the experiences of women in these situations of flux.

The 2020 Georges Mora Fellowship panel of judges including Annika Kristensen (Senior Curator, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art), Melissa Keys (Curator Buxton Contemporary) and Simon Maidement (Senior Curator, Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Victoria), were impressed by Lal’s proposed project, An Area of Darkness.

Image courtesy of new fellow Shivanjani Lal. Photograph: Anna Kučera

In addition to receiving a $10,000 grant, over the next year, Lal will be building on her current research into Indentured Labour of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. This research considers 2020 as a date which marks the centenary of the end of indentured labour. This historical moment is the crux of Lal’s research and what she hopes to reflect upon in the United Kingdom and Bangladesh. She will be using this award to support her time in the UK visiting the Ameena Gafoor Institute, and the Goldsmiths Film Archives. During this time she will also be mentored by Mauritian British artist Shiraz Bayjoo. In conclusion, she will do a residency at the Bengal Art Foundation, in Dhaka Bangladesh.

‘The Georges Mora fellowship provides security as I work towards ambitious and timely research. It will enable me to develop new networks in the United Kingdom as well as nurture and continue my relationships within the Bangladesh Arts Sector. It allows me to feel confident in my arts practice and its future.’ – Shivanjani Lal, August 2020

Chairman of the Georges Mora Fellowship Board, Clive Scott, said: ‘In these strange times we are delighted that we can continue to support Shivanjani Lal as our 2020 Fellow. Her practice exemplifies Georges Mora’s desire to assist artists that push the boundaries in contemporary art – showing us new thinking.’