What inspired you and what is the main purpose for ‘The Two Chairs’?
Racism is a sensitive topic to talk about, yet it is deeply embedded into the fabric of our society. After stumbling upon a piece of furniture labelled “European Labour Only”, I was quickly reminded of the racist roots tied into our history. Central to the project, two chairs will be made: One yellow, one white. “The Two Chairs” is a creative platform that will engage and cultivate conversation that openly examines race and racism in Australia. The response will take take the artistic forms of art decor, illustration, fim, design, theatre and literature.
The main goal for ‘The Two Chairs’ project is to raise awareness and educate people about racism in Australia.
How is the project’s approach different than those of others working on the same issue of racism?
Current anti-racism organisations such as ‘Racism. It Stops with Me’ and ‘All Together Now’ are campaigning to raise awareness by sharing knowledge and resources to refute unacceptable racist behaviours and attitudes. The Two Chairs aims to interact and unite the public using creativity to send a strong message and help shed light on racism. By using art as a platform, I believe it will engage and educate people on an intimate and personal level. It focuses on instigating micro-changes; initiating intimate and hopefully meaningful one-on-one conversations. The desire is to inspire, encourage and empower the audience to become proactive towards a positive change.
The Two Chairs itself is a powerful tool that can move beyond creative territories, where it can either be an artistic statement, a story-collecting installation set in a cafe space or even featured into a theatrical piece.
What impact is ‘The Two Chairs’ having either locally or nationally?
Participants who engage in discussion by sitting on these two chairs will be left with an idea of what racism actually means to them. There is no right or wrong answer; what is important is that they leave with a seed of thought for change and understanding.
The project also focuses on facilitating and encouraging discussion about race and racism. Placed in a safe and social setting, it is about questioning the perceived social norms around us. I plan to launch projects expanding from Melbourne to Sydney, which are cities that I find to have embraced their cultural identity. The main goal is to have it spread on a national level. For now, its about targeting one city at a time. Developing from a grassroots project, it will naturally develop and grow into a strong initiative that embraces diversity and cultural differences. I look forward to developing a network filled with creative people; people that are willing to help push the project into new levels, and subsequently spread the stories of diversity and culture and eliminate the misunderstandings found in racial discrimination and cultural differences.
Why are you using ‘StartSomeGood’, a crowdfunding social initiative to raise money?
My current challenge is to spread awareness and raise funds for The Two Chairs project. I have previously run a successful crowdfunding Pozible campaign and in the process I have now become an ambassador for them. I have organised, promoted, marketed and rallied support for the project, and as such, raised over $7,500 last year to self-publish a book of Melbourne’s memories in conjunction with an exhibition held at Federation Square.
I will be launching another crowdfunding project for The Two Chairs and will be utilising my experience gained from the previous campaign. In addition, a benefit of crowdfunding allows supporters to be actively informed and engaged with the working process of the project. Gaining your involvement from the start, ensures the project has longevity and support.
We are aiming to raise at least $2,000. Your 1 Good Dollar can make a huge cultural difference to the discussion about the issue. Lets get creative and talk about embracing cultural differences.
Become a social backer today by pledging at www.StartSomeGood.com/TheTwoChairs
Tell us something about you?
My ability to be creative. I had graduated as an interior designer, which taught me to be flexible and to keep open to ideas. I see problems as challenges and are hard-wired to find solutions. I find creative ways to produce positive impact.
My positive attitude. I believe that by being optimistic, it will attract positive and interesting people and opportunities. Over the past few months, I had becoming a travelling story collector – venturing across rural NSW. There, I was able to meet amazing people and the town has since accepted my proposal to create a project that will engage with the local’s culturally diverse community.
I am great listener. As a story collector, I collected stories from all walks of life. Once, I had a participant tell me that she enjoyed talking to me the most. I think it may be because I have indirectly become a psychologist (and a cheap one at that). I help facilitate and trigger people’s memories of their past experiences and help document those event by mapping it out.
I am a social-connector. I went to Sydney to pitch the project for Vivid Sydney, and took the time to organise to meet with various art establishments, anti-racism organisations and social entrepreneurs. My intention was to expand my creative practice. I’m glad I went, as I’ve been overwhelmed by positive responses and connected with interesting people.
Written by Suzanne Nguyen
(updated 25 August 2013)