Beyond the initial lockdowns and border closures of 2020, the pandemic continued to have a profound impact on artists, practice and the development of new work across the world.
While the first of the Asia TOPA Virtual LABs considered online platforms as a means of continuing to connect and collaborate during a time when international travel was not possible, by 2021 artists had embraced digital tools as an integral means of developing and presenting contemporary performance in a post-pandemic world. Live and digital drew ever closer in the conception and creation with dual outcomes a very enticing possibility.
The individual projects developed through the Asia TOPA Virtual LABs in 2021-2022 are at varying stages of development and each are unique in their approach to cultural exchange and collaboration. The creative outcomes and insights into process that the artists have generously shared with us contribute to a collective narrative about an evolution of practice and digital transformation that has taken place since 2020.
The ongoing impact of the pandemic means that, once again two years on, these creative outcomes and documents of a process-in-process are shared with the uncertainty of knowing when cross-border travel and the conditions for live performance in numerous different territories might be possible.
Some virtual partnerships have received additional support extending their LAB time even further. These will feature in an exhibition of Asia TOPA’s new work partnerships in the COVID era in a unique partnership with the National Museum of Australia towards the end of 2022. As expressions of the artists’ shared inventiveness in isolation they are increasingly confident as parallel digital offerings in their own right.
The means is always apparent in the outcome and the experience of virtual connection in building a new live repertoire cannot be undone.
Our thanks go to the artists – as ever – and our funding and producing partners for enabling us to keep investing in intimate acts of exchange and creation across the vast distances of the Asia-Pacific.