Locked In,
September 2018

Pre-pandemic, in a Big Brother–reminiscent scenario, five groups of artists were voluntarily locked in the Blak Dot Gallery for a twelve-hour artist intensive.

From 6pm until 6am, over a week-long period in 2018, each group was provided water, food and materials to create their work in situ. They were encouraged to have no communication with the outside world during their lock-in. They did not necessarily know each other beforehand.

Upon exiting, each artist in the group left one piece of work behind for the next collective of artists to encounter. The general public were encouraged to view the artists working live through the windows of the gallery or via live streaming throughout the night. The culmination of this project was a group exhibition open to the public and extensive documentation.

As we reflect back on this project in the
year 2020, we can find many parallels to
the way artists have been existing and creating during COVID-19. Strikingly
different is the fact that the Locked In
artists made informed individual choices
to participate in isolation as opposed to following the enforced mandates of state governments.

Artists were locked in isolation together
for twelve hours.
How did they respond? 
What did they create? 
How did they communicate their message and what did they leave behind? 
Why did they choose to be locked in?

Kimba Thompson


Constanza Jara

Arctic ice breaker routes, extensive urbanisations and ‘the progress’ are becoming the world.
Precious landscapes as unprecedented sceneries of destruction.
What if we have no other land/scape?
Do we belong to the land or does the land belong to us?

Constanza Jara is an artist currently based in Naarm (Melbourne) who is interested in new perspectives of living in togetherness.

Victor E Guzman is a Chilean artist, filmmaker and editor.

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Victor E Guzman

Intrigued by what happens between frames, I investigate the rotoscope animation technique, which consists of intervening the motion picture footage frame by frame.

Coming into a space and sharing the creative flow with other artists in a limited period of time challenged my creative process. I had to find a balance between the conversations and the desire to realise an idea. In the end the process of letting go was where creativity lay.

Tama Sharman

I experienced isolation-disconnection-pain-joy-connection-hope-respect-process-solidarity and more, in waves all throughout the night.

I value the time I spent with everyone and admire amongst many things the awareness, ambition, focus, determination and acceptance we all shared.

Kia Ora nga mihi nui.

Tama tk Sharman is a printmaker born in Otepoti/Dunedin Aotearoa whose Pacific Transformer series was acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria.


Listen to the conversation with Azimullah, recorded on Manus Island in 2018

Anna Liebzeit is an Aboriginal woman making connections through Indigenous and arts-based methodologies, embodying practices and decolonising theories.

Anna Liebzeit

Our lock-in drew on the writings of Behrouz Boochani’s book No Friend but the Mountains, 2018. In it he cites the Kyriarchal system, a feminist theory describing how social system(s) are built around domination, oppression and submission. As decolonised peoples with First Nations perspectives (from diverse backgrounds), we found kinship with this theory and with our brothers on Manus.

This is a selfie from Azimullah, who met the lock-in artists via phone in transit from Manus Island to the United States. He’s a Rohingya man in his early 20s. When I first met Azim on Manus in May 2018 I met a man, who despite his wisdom and dignity, was struggling. He struggled to make sense of the insanity of indefinite detention. A couple of months after we met he was notified he was going to America. 

There is scant data on the effects on mental and physical health from indefinite incarceration on Manus. We see men attempting and committing suicide, men falling into hopelessness and depression despite support from each other, and physical health deterioration due to lack of health care (for example panadol and water has been prescribed for serious conditions). The same is reported about children, women and men on Nauru. Culture, creativity and hope is present on Manus, however, the shadow of an endless prison sentence for no crime looms large.

Azim meeting us for Lock In and agreeing to talk and be recorded is a historical moment. It was two days before he left PNG after five years of systemic torture. The scratchy recording encapsulates the break in transmission Australians have with the lived realities of these men. Politics and propaganda dehumanise our brothers.

Australia must close the camps and relocate all people to Australia or a safe third country.

Gina Ropiha

Coming in a little late on the korero (conversation) between Lock In companions meant there was a lot to contemplate and a rhythm of work to join. The opportunity to hear, sit with and respond to other artist’s approaches was enlightening and enriching.

It is not often that a completely safe space opens in which to speak and speak back to the overwhelming and interconnected structures of systematic external control.

Creating is a powerful, positive act, and to make with others is to join in a united, generous, life affirming questioning and assertion of existence.

To make, connect, thrive and celebrate in the face of repression is victory.

Gina Ropiha is a Melbourne-based artist of Māori and Pakeha descent whose recent practice is focused on personal adornment and small sculptural works.

Tony Tia is a Melbourne-based visual artist originally from New Zealand and Samoa who combines drawing, painting, photography, graphic design and video to produce works strongly influenced by science fiction, retro futurism and astronomy.

Tony Tia

As we collectively began to discuss ideas and concepts relating to our practices, the structure of society was brought up. Particularly the idea that there are very few at the top with the power and control and then there are most of us at the bottom in the shape of a pyramid.

The idea of the pyramid really resonated with me. I’ve always liked the shape of the pyramid and I felt in this instance the shape gave a good simple visual representation of the way things are structured in society and the many complications we face.

Susan Marco Forrester

We shared stories and connected, and before long we found our collaborative point of departure. We discussed common experiences of colonialism and western centralism. One artist suggested we use Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s theory of Kyriarchy, the idea of a social system or set of connecting social systems built around domination, oppression and submission as a framework for our making and thinking.

Susan Marco Forrester is a queer Somali-Australian sound and visual artist based in Naarm (Melbourne).


Guy Ritani is a Māori artist living in Naarm (Melbourne) whose work seeks to shed light on inherent societal, political and ecological inequalities.

Guy Ritani

Soak me is a piece that addresses my cultural understanding and disjointed sense of self based on the impact of colonisation on my upbringing. There were many levels of humiliation to this individual piece. Working alongside the other artists, I was able to come to peace with all of them. This Lock In facilitated an environment for the shame I held to be bound to a body of work and to no longer fester within me.

Installation tree was an occurrence born out of the aesthetic code we slowly established through conversation. The red rooted tree signified sacrifice, the mother Papatuanuku and the border of the Maldivian flag combining into the supportive structure of the piece. The thick earthen rope connected the threads effortlessly but intentionally from all reaches of the red earth. The Rangi black lace intertwined through the rope is at peace with the winding processions of life. Finally, the white twine dwindling as the light we exist within floats and falls at will throughout the figure. The entire structure fell to the ground during the Lock In hours after it had been completed on account of the clay structure in balance changing its physical composition over time as it dried out, symbolising the temporary nature of all things physical.

You must remember to stay connected but acknowledge that in doing that you also have to disconnect.

Kareen Adam

The conversations (and the Māori welcome) at the start of the evening created tendrils of connection between us. The collective creative energies flowed within and between us as we worked individually and together. It was a great opportunity to extend my own work and explore new ideas and materials—all the while being subtly aware of the traces left behind by the previous Lock In artists. 

The ‘Gaddaa Manje’ (Powerful Woman) is a symbol I created for the strong, courageous women of the Maldives who’ve been fighting against injustices of a brutal and corrupt regime that came to power through the coup in February 2012. The figures are printed in red, which on the Maldivian flag symbolises the blood spilled for independence and national sovereignty. As the Maldives gears up for the next presidential election (on 23rd September 2018) amidst rumours of vote buying and vote rigging, the streets across the country are decorated with colourful campaign flags and buntings of the two presidential candidates. I wanted to create a new version of campaign flags, one that contrasts the power of the collective feminine against the dark forces of corruption.

Kareen Adam is a Maldivian-Australian visual artist who works with printmaking, drawing, painting and mixed media to explore ideas of home, transition, identity and interpersonal relations.


Aida Azin is a visual artist based in Naarm (Melbourne) whose painting practice engages with her Filipino-Iranian heritage and promotes the importance of self-representation for people of colour.

Aida Azin

Uses of Anger - Audre Lorde.
Everything can be used. Except
what is wasteful.
You will need to remember this when you are accused of destruction.

That’s where I’m at. Defending myself. Accused of division. In Paul Beatty’s ‘The Sell-Out’ segregation may be divisive for some, but it’s uniting for others.

I use my anger.
To create things.
To bring me closer to other angry people.
Why is it that minorities have such diverse stories but are still connected?

Anger expressed and translated into action in the service of our vision.
Anger is loaded with information and energy. If I participate, knowingly or otherwise, in my sister’s oppression she calls me out on it.

Collectively as artists what can we evoke by uniting?
Challenging the everyday living politics.
What is crucial.
Self determination.
Transform collectively.

I’ve become more drawn toward making larger things when I feel that it’s less personal and more ambiguous in meaning. I feel freedom and I can be loud and claim a space.

And then I take a dark corner and chip away at something that feels personal. Put myself in to the artwork here and there… A little brown tape - that’s me… white tape… that’s them. That’s me fighting white supremacy. Me vs them. I always feel a bit that way. Being in Blak Dot felt special. Like I had allies to fight with.

The palm tree - that’s me again. I don’t know why. It’s a beautiful thing of the Philippines that’s why. I want to be a tree in the Philippines.

I don’t want to be angry. I feel embarrassed to be angry.

The rage of the oppressed is never the same as the rage of the privileged.
bell hooks.

Am I oppressed? I have to bite my tongue every day around my friends and colleagues. But am I oppressed?

Peter Waples-Crowe

When I walked into the space I felt inspired by the other artists’ use of Red.

Then and now.

Ngurran is my Ngarigo tribal name and this image is a reworking of a colonial print. I was thinking about how this nineteenth-century print could be me and how these old images have informed the way Aboriginal people are seen in contemporary society.

Peter Waples-Crowe is a Ngarigo man whose work explores new possibilities for Koori people to re-present themselves and their culture away from historical and socio-political boundaries and limits.

Tyson Campbell (Te Rarawa/Ngāti Maniapoto) is a Naarm/Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist whose work is engaged with the relationships between indigenous and settler-state imaginaries.

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Tyson Campbell

This video work explores a historical moment within Aotearoa’s history and commemorates Kuia Dame Whina Cooper. ‘Kuia’ is a Te Reo term that translates to a female elder or a deeply respected female member of the broader Māori community.

In 1975 Whina led the Māori land rights march from Cape Reinga to Parliament in Wellington as an act of resistance to re-instate the demand for no further land to be sold to Pākeha. Through the humble act of walking, Whina generated national media attention and strengthened Māori comradery, particularly in metropolitan areas where rural Māori were searching for jobs to support their families in Aotearoa’s dramatically industrialised and financialised landscape.

Whina is also part of my hapu in Mitimiti so it is very empowering to know that my bloodline has produced warriors of Indigenous resistance.


Colectiva Feminista Cambalache

Colectiva Feminista Cambalache/Colectiva de Abya Yala is a group of Latin American women who have been gathering weekly for the past two years. Exploring Latin perspectives on feminism, they meet to read and discuss Latin American authors and share personal experiences, weaving creatively both with their hands as well as with their ideas.

Feel your own home in la concha. A life thread to play, dreaming justicia and vivir bien. In the nest que te anida, el cuerpo que te envuelve.

Have a rest in the nest and take an amulet with you.
Buena fortuna!

Colectiva Feminista Cambalache/Colectiva de Abya Yala is a group of Latin American women who create space for the exploration of Latin perspectives on feminism, embracing ‘mestiza’ (mixed culture).

Kimba Thompson

Kimba Thompson is the Founder of Blak Dot Gallery, a non-profit, Indigenous-run artist space in Naarm (Melbourne) with a specific agenda to promote and showcase the works of First Nations Artists and World Indigenous Cultures. She is also the director of Sista Girl Productions and currently a Curatorial Practice PhD candidate at Monash University.

Locked In was a Critical Mass collaboration between Blak Dot Gallery, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, Siteworks and Testing Grounds, and was presented as part of Melbourne Fringe 2018 where it won Best Visual Arts program. The texts above were written by the participating artists in 2018.

01 Agatha Gothe-Snape       02 A Constructed World
03 Art You Can Wear       04 Léuli Eshrāghi
05 Mini Audio Library       06 Samson Young

The MUMA ONLINE design identity draws on the formal parameters of standard screen resolution and two-point perspective to suggest an exchange of both physical and online pages. Design: Ella Sutherland

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MUMA acknowledges the Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri peoples of the Kulin Nation on whose lands Monash University is located. We pay our respect to their Elders, past, present and emerging, and celebrate the rich, ancient and continuing art cultures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia.

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