Vertical Villages (2013) was a collaboration with ruangrupa (Indonesia) at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Sydney and as part of the 15th Jakarta Biennale and working with members of the large international student population living around 4A, mostly in high rise tower blocks in Sydney’s CBD.
Based out of the ground floor gallery we utilised the shopfront space to meet and collaborate with international students and learn how they engage and experience the city, both domestically and socially.
Using alternative mapping processes, Vertical Villages also unpacked the individuals movements both within the city, and more broadly in the region. Personal objects and communication were incorporated into the exhibition as a means of highlighting the many voices of international students who participated in the project.
Recognising these students, specifically those living in high-density and multiple occupancy housing, as a group with varied understandings and expressions of domestic and communal spaces. As temporary migrants, this group illustrate the capacity of self-organisation in an unfamiliar situation, whether that may be through improvised and makeshift living situations, or a specific engagement with the urban context.
With over 35,000 international students enrolled in Sydney tertiary institutions annually, international students play an important role in the social and economic dynamic of Sydney, yet their presence within a wider conversation about the cultural and architectural development of the city.
Equally, the structure of residential living in Sydney is changing dramatically. Developments such as World Tower, Central Park and Green Square are evidence of a shift from low to medium and high-density housing. But is the city of Sydney itself equipped for such a dramatic shift in the scale of personal and public space?
Project blog here
As part of Vertical Villages various international students were invited to host a party in the Ground Floor of 4A. This series of events, House Party invited the students to extend the gallery space to a social space for their own communities. House Party included a Chinese hot pot dinner with Jeffry Santony, a night of with the Thai student association, hosted by Fuse Worapot and Angelica Casado and a closing demolition party where international students were invited to take home furniture from the installation and introduce it back into the community’s domestic sphere.