Rent was the first art show that Melbourne based New Zealand born, Hannah Sim, has ever put together.
A curator by passion – not by formal practice – she developed the idea for the show as a social cause to raise funds for an organisation called Children’s Ground, who respond to the social, economic and cultural needs of Indigenous children and families.
Utilising the creative talent in her social circle, Rent featured the work of her close friends and acquaintances whose work has been exhibited locally and internationally.
For Art Workr she shared what it was like curating her first exhibition, why there needs to be more settler awareness (and more settler money) put toward advocating for First Nations Australians, and her plans as a curator moving forward.
SABINA — Tell me about the concept for Rent?
HANNAH — Rent is a fundraiser collective which aims to bring awareness to the importance of colonisers paying their rent to First Nations people in Australia.
SABINA — Who are the artists involved and what’s your relationship to them?
HANNAH — There are a lot! Annabelle Aronica, Zainab Hikmet, Carla Milentis, Claire Summers, Jarryd Cooper, Corey Pugh, Robyn Daly, John Hewison, Lucia Canuto, Gab Cole and Emme Orbach. My relationships with all these people are very unique, they vary from close friendships to acquaintances. What they all have in common is that there is some kind of connection based on sharing similar values.
SABINA — Why was it important to you to work with Children's Ground?
HANNAH — I chose to approach Children's Ground because of my ongoing support of them as a grass roots organisation. Their work focuses on creating new futures where the next generation of First Nations children grow up happy and healthy, with agency over their social, cultural, political and economic future.
SABINA — What do you hope visitors will take away from attending?
HANNAH — I hope that this will raise awareness of the importance of colonisers paying rent when they are able to. I believe this is necessary. Apathy and inaction are so harmful. There has been a lot of engagement throughout the production of this event about knowing who Children's Ground are, what they do and why these fiscal contributions are important. I think it's very common for people of our generation in Australia to claim wokeness, however their behaviour often does not reflect what they preach. I hope events such as these encourage people to put their money where their mouths are.
SABINA — I love that this is your first time curating a show and that you managed most aspects of the project on our own - what made you want to start putting exhibitions together?
HANNAH — I realised I had support from my community to make larger financial contributions than what I had been as an individual. It was more about wanting to raise money rather than it being about organising an exhibition. For me, saying I am curating this show implies the operations of this project are individual. I've had so much support on this from a vast range of people. I'm not a curator - I'm involved in organising a fundraiser. This is not about promoting me or the creatives involved, it's about what we can do collectively as a community to contribute to indigenous organisations.
SABINA — Tell me your plans for what’s next!
HANNAH — See how this one goes and go from there. For next time, I would like to have First Nations artists included as well and instead of the money going to an organisation - it goes directly to the artist. Next year, I am planning to move to L.A so hopefully can take Rent over there. Will have to research First Nations' organisations there. If anyone has a connection with any organisations in America, I'd love to hear from them.