The River Project

The River Project is a major contemporary arts project to be held at Campbelltown Arts Centre and at sites along the Upper Georges River. The River Project brings together Australian and international artists to explore the contemporary relationship of cultures to, and the issues facing, river systems in Asia and the Pacific.

Art Exhibition previously on at Campbelltown Arts Centre in Sydney precinct, New South Wales, Australia.
From Friday 27 August 2010 to Sunday 24 October 2010

The River Project image The River Project image The River Project image 'Bridge' 2008 image Stamping the water 1996 image '2 Degrees' 2010 image 'Few of my favourite things' 2009 image The River Project image

Published by anonymous on Tuesday 12 October 2010.
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The project comprises an exhibition, publication, performance project, and education and public programs.

The River Project considers the Upper Georges River that runs through greater‐Sydney within the larger context of river systems of Asia and the Pacific by bringing together artists from Australia, China, India, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines and South Korea who work with river systems and related concerns. From the Yangtze River in China to the Yamuna River that runs through Delhi India, the Mekong River in Vietnam and the Georges River connecting south‐west Sydney, river systems reflect our interconnectedness, our fragility and our history. The way that we engage with river systems today tells us much about who we are as a community.

The River Project is a key cultural and educational project of the Upper Georges River Urban Sustainability Project and contributes to it Integrated Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for the Upper Georges River Catchment. The River Project is supported by the NSW Environmental Trust through the Georges River Combined Councils Committee (GRCCC) including; Campbelltown, Liverpool and Wollondilly Councils.


A major visual arts exhibition that brings together new and existing work by leading and emerging artists from Australia, China, India, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines and South Korea will be held at Campbelltown Arts Centre from 28 August – 24 October 2010. The exhibition engages with the social, cultural, historical and environmental relationship of communities to river systems.

Artists participating in the exhibition include Ringo Bunoan (The Philippines), Elisabeth Cummings (Australia), Tiffany Chung (Vietnam), Bonita Ely (Australia), Jeffry Feeger (Papua New Guinea), Cao Fei (China), Zhuang Hui (China), Reena Kallat (India), Minouk Lim (South Korea), Jun Nguyen‐Hatsushiba (Vietnam), Mike Parr (Australia), Raqs Media Collective (India), Jewyo Rhii (South Korea) and MM Yu (The Philippines).

Sepik River Project

The exhibition will also feature a selection of contemporary work from several communities of the Sepik River, Papua New Guinea curated by Dr Susan Cochrane with the assistance of emerging Papua New Guinea artist Jeffry Feeger. The project is a unique professional development opportunity for Jeffry Feeger who will be mentored by Dr Susan Cochrane in curatorship and arts administration.

In Papua New Guinea the Sepik River is the source of great artistic and cultural systems, yet characteristic styles of Sepik art are not admitted to modern or contemporary categories. In Western art and thought artists from the Sepik and their art remain ‘tribal’. The common perception of Papua New Guinean ‘contemporary’ artists is of urban‐based, individualistic practitioners whose work engages with global concepts of the modern and contemporary. The Sepik River Project brings these two contemporary realities together. The project will comprise existing work from the private collections of Oceanic Arts Society members in Sydney with new work acquired by the curators on a Sepik River research trip (24 June – 2 July 2010) alongside impressions of the Sepik River journey and the river people by artist Jeffry Feeger.

The key curatorial concept of the Sepik River Project is the flow of the river connecting people. As a member of the Oceanic Art Society (OAS), Cochrane contacted other members with long attachments to Sepik artists and their art. Photographs, documents, letters and memories from OAS members will flow back to Sepik artists and their communities with the curators on their river journey. Through these introductions, the curators will seek new work that relates to existing pieces being loaned from the personal collections of OAS members. The artwork acquired on the research trip will be gifted to the National Museum and Art Gallery of Papua New Guinea at the close of the exhibition.

In this preliminary stage Susan and Jeffry envisage concentrating on 3‐4 types of objects, preferably by known artists: crocodile canoe prows & man‐crocodile objects, Aibom sago storage jars and firehearths, Kambot storyboards and pangul paintings on sago spathe. Their research trip will involve visiting the following villages Palembi , Korogo, Kangannaman, Aibom, Kaminibit, Midjimbit, Tambanum, Kambot, Angoram plus the port town of Wewak.

The Sepik River Project is supported by the Oceanic Arts Society (OAS).


The River Project also comprises a performance project. For the performance project seminal performance artists from Australia and China who have worked with rivers in their practice will re‐stage/interpret major existing work about rivers or produce new work in‐situ along the Upper Georges River, Sydney, Australia.

Artists participating in the performance project include Mike Parr (Australia), Song Dong (China) and Yin Xiuzhen (China).

For this project Mike Parr will be re‐interpreting his work Pure Water into Polluted Water (1971) original staged on the Georges River, Liverpool. This performance is part of a larger body of work 150 Programmes and Investigations 1971 ‐ 1972. The original performance involved Parr lacing a sterilized volume in a river as an imagistic (not analogous) concept of negative volume or occupation. He performed two versions, one with a Perspex cube of water, another with a plastic bag. In this contemporary performance he will re‐stage the first two versions along with a new third version – a cube of frozen distilled water. The performance work will speak to and raise questions about how our readings of objects and our relationship to the environment change over time. This performance will be occurring in July [date TBC] with documentation of the performance and past work being presented as part of The River Project exhibition.


Interdisciplinary in scope, the project will feature a significant publication including commissioned essays by leading writers from various fields that explore issues relevant to rivers and countries considered in the project’s scope. The publication will also represent the works and artists featured in the exhibition, including colour plates and selected artist interviews. The publication aims to contextualize the project within a larger body of work about rivers and will be in full colour approximately 200 pages in length.

The publication will feature curatorial essays by the project’s curator Binghui Huangfu and curator of the Sepik River project Dr Susan Cochrane. Writers participating in the publication include:
Ou Ning – a multidisciplinary artist, curator, filmmaker, researcher based in China whose essay will consider contemporary concerns relating to rivers and communities in China
Prof Amareswar Galla – whose essay will use his personal history in India and Vietnam to respond to issues facing rivers in these countries and the cultural significance of these rivers
Sharyn Cullis – member of the Georges River Environmental Alliance whose essay will engage with the issue of mining on the Upper Georges River and the history of community action and engagement with the Upper Georges River
Prof Flaudette May Datuin – Associate Professor, Department of Art Studies, University of the Philippines whose essay will include interviews with the Filipino artist participating in the project as an entry point to investigating issues of rivers in The Philippines, particularly the Pasig River that runs through Manila and is considered biologically “dead”

See Also: Artist Talks and Community Symposium, October 16