First Response – Documenting Canberra’s response to COVID-19

Tuggeranong Arts Centre
25 July – 19 September 2020

First Response is a series of four new works from artists Martin Ollman, Marissa McDowell, Anna Georgia, and Shannon Hanrahan commissioned to document Canberra’s initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The works aim to show the profound and personal effects of the pandemic on individuals and communities in the ACT.

First Response artists Martin Ollman, Marissa McDowell, Anna Georgia and Shannon Hanrahan discuss their work at a panel session chaired by Living Arts Canberra’s Barbie Robinson

The works include:

Plagued by Martin Ollman

New works by photographer Martin Ollman. During the initial stages of Canberra’s response, Ollman was granted access to Canberra’s frontline health services, political figures, and major institutions, including the Australian parliamentary Senate inquiry into the COVID-19 response.

The exhibition includes portraits of individuals who played key roles in the COVID-19 response, including Senator Katy Gallagher and ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith, as well as frontline health workers, and members of the arts and tertiary education communities.

Isolation by Marissa McDowell

A short documentary film by Marissa McDowell exploring the COVID-19 experience of Canberra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, including their unique fears and hopes for the community’s future.

The film features personal accounts from a broad range of community members, including Elders Aunty Matilda House and Uncle Warren Daley, artists Brenda Croft and Dale Huddleston, and local students, offering insights into how they felt about these new and unfamiliar circumstances, how it has affected their families, businesses and education and their thoughts about the future.

Notes on Canberra Lockdown (A Non-Travelogue) by Anna Georgia

Notes on Canberra Lockdown draws on Anna’s training in ethnographic filmmaking and investigates the everyday activities, digital engagement, circumstances, states of mind, and material spaces of individuals during the period of COVID restrictions (and economic downturn).

Fix Me

Choreographed by Shannon Hanrahan, Fix Me explores the contradiction of the freedom of movement vs the physical restraints of self-isolation at home, the physical space transferred into the online space, and the way that dancers/dance artists can work around, and even be inspired, by spatial limitations.

Photo credit: Martin Ollman

Speeches by Karina Keys and Nicole Lawder MLA, followed by dance performance by Melissa Markos