Thinking Business Online Exhibition

Online exhibition by Barbara Cleveland art collective explores female friendship

Women connect, communicate and collaborate in unique ways. Thinking Business is an exhibition by Australian art collective Barbara Cleveland, exploring forms of female friendship, collaboration and artistic labour. The project takes its title from Hannah Arendt’s description of her friendship with Mary McCarthy. As Arendt wrote, “It’s not that we think so much alike, but that we do this thinking-business for and with each other.”

This idea of an intellectual and creative connection between women is at the centre of this project, which focuses on the 15-year-long working relationship between the members of Barbara Cleveland: Diana Baker Smith, Frances Barrett, Kate Blackmore and Kelly Doley. Informed by queer and feminist ideologies, the collective take their name from the mythic 1970s feminist performance artist ‘Barbara Cleveland’.

To launch Barbara Cleveland’s touring exhibition Thinking Business, Penrith Regional Gallery, Home of The Lewers Bequest with Museums & Galleries of NSW is hosting a series of online screenings that will grant access to the five video artworks that comprise this show. On the last day, curator Gina Mobayed will be live in-conversation with the artist collective. Spanning ten years of the collaborative’s prolific career, each of the five videos contributes to a fascinating study of humour, absurdity and feminist practices. Thinking Business highlights the performative aspect of Barbara Cleveland’s work, bringing endurance, labour and time to the exhibition, with great impact.

Thinking Business is a carefully curated survey of Barbara Cleveland’s work and its presentation in Goulburn was their inaugural solo exhibition at a public gallery in Australia. A Goulburn Regional Art Gallery and Museums & Galleries of NSW touring exhibition. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. Supported by the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund – an Australian Government initiative.

Image credit: Barbara Cleveland, This is a stained glass window (still), 2019, single channel HD video, 13:08 minutes. Image courtesy the artists and Sullivan+Strumpt, Sydney.

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