Artist Nina Sanadze conceived the Collective Polyphony Festival as an integral part of her social practice. The festival had modest beginnings, with the idea taking shape in September 2022 when she was granted the opportunity to host a solo exhibition at the Gertrude Glasshouse, as a part of her residency program with Gertrude Contemporary. Instead of proceeding with her solo exhibition, Sanadze made the choice to share the esteemed space with fellow artists from her ShrewD Collective. This decision was driven by the intention to shed light on the practices of ShrewD Collective members, dismantle elitism, cultivate a sense of community, encourage peer support, and alleviate the competitiveness within the industry. Drawing on her involvement in two collectives—ShrewD Collective and In-Kind Collective—Nina deeply appreciates the significance of peer support in her artistic journey.
Staying true to her large-scale, peace-building projects and social practice, Nina expanded this concept to orchestrate Collective Polyphony Festival, extending invitations to more art collectives and exhibition spaces. The response was heart-warming. Despite numerous efforts, the Collective Polyphony Festival garnered no funding and primarily operates through volunteer efforts and gallery partnerships.
Commencing in July 2023, a group of five emerging curators—Georgina Loughnan, Thomas Stoddard, Yu-zhen Cheng, Mia Palmer-Verevis, and Xiaolin Chen—partnered with photographer Astrid Mulder to join forces with Nina. They have played an integral role in organising, documenting, marketing and facilitating the events.
Astrid Mulder s a photographer based in Narrm/Melbourne, specializing in exhibition, performance, and event documentation in the arts sector. Known for her meticulous attention to detail, Astrid is dedicated to preserving the visual and conceptual integrity of the artworks she captures. Collaborating with universities, commercial galleries, independent spaces, artists, and curators, she produces high-quality and captivating photographs that authentically capture the true spirit of her clients' artistic endeavours.
Georgina is an art consultant and emerging curator based in Naarm, with interests in performance, feminism and craftsmanship underpinned by a dedication to nurturing artistic talent and challenging embedded social codes within institutional contexts. Her academic research in Interior Design and Curatorship has allowed her to engage with a rich tapestry of art history and spatial knowledge, shaped by her active engagement and curiosity within the world. Her current role at Craft Victoria involves supporting emerging artists and contributing to Melbourne's art ecology by facilitating new commissions through the development of art collections and strategy.
Thomas is an emerging curator with a background in design research, teaching, writing, and audio production. His work has explored the visual constructions of marginalised identities (through objects such as flags/vexillography, and late 20th century print media), amateur communal design practices (through archival internet spaces, defunct forum communities), museological digital exhibition design (through creative code narratives), and transitional design (critical investigations
of design futures). He taught multi-disciplinary design practices and histories at the University of Technology, Sydney.
His curatorial practice is socially oriented, responding to queer narratives, future focused concepts, and unexpected materiality.
Mia Palmer-Verevis is an emerging curator, writer and arts worker with experience working with early-career artists and organisations across the non-profit sector. She is currently completing a Master of Art Curatorship at the University of Melbourne and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Art History). Dedicated to contributing to Melbourne's contemporary art community, Mia has curated exhibitions at George Paton Gallery and Linden New Art, and holds a position on the Board of Directors at Blindside ARI.
Yuzhen Cheng is an independent curator wandering the earth. Through curating, translating, publishing, photography, research, and other practical activities, she explores the past, seeks to understand human behavior, and engages in dialogue with the possibilities of the world. Her research and curatorial interests lie in the mind and body, the aesthetics of the non-visual senses, interdisciplinary practices combining art and science, the connections between humans and other organisms, and individuals of diverse cultural backgrounds who live on the margins of society. Her most recent curatorial projects include, "Artificial Memory: A Twist of Reality" and "I Express Myself to Myself in the Silent Self-Presence." She is currently pursuing a Master of Art Curatorship at the University of Melbourne, holds an MPhil in History and a Bachelor of Arts (Media & Communication). She also contributes to Artnet.China and participates in the NGV Community Ambassador program.
Xiaolin Chen, an emerging curator hailing from Southern China, embarked on a transformative journey from civil engineering to an enchanting art world. A serendipitous encounter with an independent curator ignited her passion, leading her to Narrm/Melbourne to pursue a Master's in Art Curatorship at the University of Melbourne. Xiaolin endeavors to explore Chinese cultural narratives and multicultural collisions from an international perspective. Her engineering background infuses her curatorial air with a distinct and innovative lens on the world of art.