By Robert Frolla


Brunswick’s Counihan Gallery will be opening not one, but two exhibitions simultaneously next week.


As part of a joint exhibition on cultural identity, feminism and representation, Towla and Identity Intersection will be making their debuts on 1 June at 6pm in Galleries 1 and 2 respectively.


Towla focuses on the relationship between the East and the West, and how understandings of the world, self and other are constructed. Towla will feature works by Deanna Hitti, an Australian artist of Lebanese heritage.


Showcasing Hitti’s books and large-scale prints of 19th-and 20th-century Orientalism, Towla documents and explores the visual history of the East. It also highlights the distorted, colonialised depictions of Arabs as inferior barbarians, while the West is seen as humane and rational. Notably, Towla draws attention to Orientalism’s past and how it still affects racial relations and representations today.


Identity Intersection is a collaboration-based exhibition, as it features works by six different female artists from Australia, America, Iran, the Philippines, New Zealand and Taiwan. The exhibition is curated by Tassia Joannides, and presented by Triple F Collective, which is a Melbourne-based group of PhD art students researching and creating works on female subjectivity.


Meshing cultural diversity and feminist themes, Identity Intersection builds a multi-national discourse on female experience through objects, screens and live performance.


Sofi Basseghi, Yu Fang Chi, Vanessa Godden, Riza Manalo, Tassia Joannides and Paula van Beek make up the exhibiting artists.


In conjunction with Towla and Identity Intersection, Counihan Gallery will also provide free public programs throughout the exhibitions’ run. The artists involved in Towla and Identity Intersection will discuss their work and art’s role in expressing and illustrating gendered and cultural perspectives.



Gender, Identity and Matriarchies
A conversation with Nadja Spiegelman and Stephanie Van Schilt
Thursday 1 June, 4.30 – 5.30 pm

New York-based writer Nadja Spiegelman and local writer and critic Stephanie Van Schilt discuss matriarchies, gender and cultural identities, and contemporary female writing.

Nadja will also read from her acclaimed memoir, I Am Supposed to Protect You from All This.


Artist & Curator talks
Featuring: Deanna Hitti, Yu Fang Chi (Taiwan) & Riza Manalo (Philippines)
Saturday 10 June, 2.30 – 4 pm

An informal discussion with exhibiting artists and curators about their exhibitions and respective practices.


Panel discussion
IDENTITY INTERSECTION | Women, Art and Cultural Perspectives
Featuring Vanessa Godden (North America), Sofi Basseghi (Iran) and Frances Tapueluelu
Chaired by Paula van Beek (New Zealand)
Saturday 17 June, 2.30 – 4 pm

This panel will explore the many perspectives on the ways in which art can explore the complexities of gendered and cultural subjectivities.



Towla and Identity Intersection will run until 25 June.



Towla / Identity Intersection
1 – 25 June
Counihan Gallery
233 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
Open 11am – 5pm





Robert is a freelance editor for Busybird Publishing, and has edited for Writers Victoria’s The Victorian Writer and Phantasmagoria Magazine.

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