Sixty eight Asian Creatives from all States and Territories in Australia have been commissioned to create new works in development, across a range of practice areas from visual arts, writing, poetry, performance, screen, audio-visual, music, comedy, and more. This page has been divided into six art form categories: Text, Music, Visual Arts, Screen, Dance / Performance and Mixed Media.
Help spread the word, and start the conversation by sharing this website and new works in development on social media. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #IAmNotAVirus and #IAmNotAVirusAustralia’ in your posts.
Content warning: Some of these works contain words and graphic references on racial and/or gender violence that may upset readers.
Trailer of new works in development
Click on images to view artist’s work
Dance / Performance
At the beginning of the pandemic, DARTS developed a survey for artists and creatives of colour to gauge the impacts of the pandemic on them and their work. Some of the responses were from artists who identified as Asian, reporting that they had experienced COVID racism.
We then partnered with Asian Australian Alliance and Democracy in Colour on the COVID-19 Coronavirus Racism Incident Report Survey. Since then, over 500 stories of racist incidents have been documented in early 2020 via this survey, including verbal threats, physical intimidation, denial of services, workplace discrimination and being coughed and spat upon.
Anti-Chinese and Asian Racism in Australia is not new. But the advent of the global pandemic has seen an intensification of physical and verbal attacks. This has directly impacted on artists who we represent, as reported in to us initially in our Creatives of Colour Impacts of COVID Survey.
This important project creates a platform for artists to respond to this through creativity. Making art and sharing stories are powerful ways to engage people in these discussions and provide counter-narratives.
Thank you to the Selection Panelists: Imogen Yang (NSW), Joon-Yee Kwok (QLD), Hoa Pham (VIC), Dr Mikala Tai (NSW) and Suna Xie (NSW).
“The I Am Not a Virus project invited artists of Asian heritage from across Australia to respond to increased racism towards Asians in this unprecedented time. The creative responses are as diverse as the artists themselves and the art forms they represent. Some artists explore experiences ranging from microaggressions to overt acts of assault and violence committed against themselves or others. Other artists call for anti-racist action. Others share their lived experience of being Asian in Australia, a heightened awareness of their cultural identity because of the pandemic. Together these creative works capture a moment in time where anti-Asian racism is rife, on both home territory and across oceans. Together these works are individual and collective acts of artistic activism. Together they draw on the power of the arts, to move, to call out, and to take action against racism.”
Joon-Yee Kwok is a Creative Producer with over 20 years experience working in the Arts and Creative Industries. With a background in festivals/events, creative placemaking, community-engaged practice and theatre, she transforms public spaces into wonderlands of intercultural encounters. Her most recent work celebrates Asian-Australian cultures and communities. She also consults on cultural diversity initiatives and artist and sector development programs. Joon is the convenor of the Australian Bureau of Asian Creatives and a PhD candidate in creative practice at the Queensland University of Technology. (Photo: Dylan Evans).
“The I Am Not A Virus project is an important artistic community response to the anti Asian racism that has arisen in the wake of COVID 19. It provides an opportunity for Asian Australian artists to speak about their experiences and turn it into a creative event with a positive outcome. The range of artwork we received was amazing from pottery sculpture to jumpers, to more conventional text and music videos. There is no lack of talent amongst Asian Australian artists. What stood out was the creativity and originality of the proposed works and the professionalism of the artists chosen. The statement “I am not a virus” catalysed a lot of worthwhile diverse responses with art tying in with the theme. With the promotion of the art I hope that it will lift awareness up of the Asian Australian experience in the community. The artworks represent a number of stories of racism and responses to it that deserve to be shared far and wide.”
Hoa Pham is the author of seven books and one play. Vixen was awarded the Best Young Writer Award by the Sydney Morning Herald. The Other Shore won the Viva La Novella Prize and Wave is translated into Vietnamese. Her website is www.hoapham.net. She is also the founder of Peril, an Asian Australian arts and culture online magazine www.peril.com.au
“Racism is viral; it can spring up anywhere, knows no bounds, invades our existences, and causes barriers to spring up where there were none before.
It is not a figment of anyone’s imagination, despite what discrimination denialists might claim. And if left unchecked, can do damage far beyond the isolated moments of hurt and exclusion.
In a time where the world is facing new reckonings with the uniquely human disease of racism – where all the old insults, abuses, and injustices raise their heads on the back of new anxieties, fears and uncertainties – we can do with a healthy shot of creatively engineered reality to remind us of how damaging it can be, and how on guard we all need to be to ensure it doesn’t infect ourselves and our communities.
Art allows us to explore the full range of emotions and responses we can have to challenging issues. This project, in all its many and varied expressions and forms, gives us a chance to take a look at our own and others’ experiences , and reflect on how we can gain greater resilience, understanding, acceptance and agency in making this world a safer place for everyone to call home.
Thank you to all involved who shared their diverse perspectives. Individually, the works in development here remind us of how incredibly varied our stories and ways of telling them can be, and how essential that endless diversity is.
Combined, the works here have a power greater than their sum total, and while made by artists working on the unceded lands now known as Australia, have the capacity to speak to all nations, in asking us who we are, and inviting us to reconsider how we should treat each other….”
Imogen Yang is an independent creative producer and curator with over 22 years of experience in arts management and collaborative project delivery, intercultural and inclusive arts practice, and a wide range of experience working in diverse cultural and community contexts, the NFP and government sectors. She founded Insightful in 2008, focusing on social justice, health equity and human rights initiatives and enhancing access to arts, culture and media for people with disability, specialising in audio description provision of access for people who are blind and vision impaired.
“As a migrant to Australia who grew up in mainland China, emigrating initially to the UK and then to Australia ten years ago, I have lived almost half my life in the West. Having had the opportunity to be involved in this urgently-needed project, I realised I hadn’t fully understood the Australia-born Asian experience; the traumatic and complex experiences of growing up Asian in Australia.
Through this project, I was excited to meet many young, talented, creative Asian Australians who were using a wide range of expressive mediums to make their robust, vibrant voices heard. These hopeful voices are not only needed to communicate with other non-Asian Australians, but also those with more recent migration histories. I believe it is time for Asian Australians to claim our Australianness, to have our voices heard, and to fight against racism. As a country I now call home, I want to contribute and change it for the better.”
Suna Xie is a visual artist whose practice explores cultural identity issues faced as a Chinese woman living in the West. Prior to completing a Visual Communication degree in the UK and a Master in Cultural Studies at University of Sydney, she had worked in the graphic design industry. With a passion for Community Art, Suna has extensive experience working with a range of organisations in Britain and Australia focusing on disadvantaged and isolated community groups, particularly people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Suna has collaborated on and delivered a variety of community projects with goals of self-empowerment, skill development and capacity building.
Dr Mikala Tai is the Head of Visual Arts at Australia Council for the Arts, previously the director of the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney. As a curator, researcher, and academic specialising in contemporary Asian art, she has collaborated with local, national, and international organisations to strengthen ties between Australia and Asia. Tai has taught at Monash University, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), and the University of Melbourne in both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Tai’s writing can be found in several exhibition catalogues in addition to periodicals. In 2015, Tai received her PhD, focusing on the influence of the global city on China’s local art infrastructure.