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ACE Open announces Allison Chhorn as the recipient of the 2022 Porter Street Commission
Allison Chhorn. Photo: Annie Comelli.

ADELAIDE.- ACE Open announced Allison Chhorn as the recipient of the 2022 Porter Street Commission.

Now in its second year, the Porter Street Commission annually awards $20,000 to a South Australian artist at any stage of their career to create an ambitious new work to be presented as a solo exhibition at ACE Open in the following year. Made possible by the Porter Street Fund, which exists as a result of the sale of the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia (CACSA)’s Parkside property, it is open to those working across all contemporary art forms and is designed to support a significant next step in a South Australian artist's career and exhibiting trajectory.

Allison Chhorn is a Cambodian-Australian film-maker and multidisciplinary artist. While specialising in painting during her Visual Arts studies at UniSA, she discovered photography, installation and, eventually, film. An up-and-coming voice in Australian contemporary art, her work explores themes of migrant displacement, trauma and post-memory. She often works between the cracks of information or resources, whether it is traces of knowledge passed down from and between Cambodian families, or her grandmother’s poor eyesight. From this place of lack, Chhorn imagines new worlds pieced together by fragments of reality.

Most recently, Chhorn has written and directed a series of internationally acclaimed films that blend documentary and fiction in highly singular ways, including THE PLASTIC HOUSE (2019), BLIND BODY (2021) and MISSING (2021).

The Porter Street Commission will see Chhorn reengage her practice with the gallery space as she develops a site-specific filmic installation. The work will investigate the generational impacts of Cambodian diaspora, with focus on how cultural practices and kinship rituals by migrants living in Australia continue as a way of preserving heritage.

For example, rituals such as cooking, gardening, collecting/hoarding and physical labour have been both beneficial and detrimental for older Cambodian generations such as Chhorn’s parents, especially those who endured the Khmer Rouge. These rituals are also acts of service that may not be seen as a love language to anyone else, even to their own children—they are hidden rituals.

The new work will be presented as part of ACE Open’s 2022 artistic program as a solo exhibition in the ACE Open gallery space.

Chhorn says, “I'm incredibly honoured and grateful to be the recipient of the Porter Street Commission. I had an ambitious idea that's been developing through practice led research and years of living with the material, which can now be realised with this generous commission. I'm also excited to work with family and friends who may not have shown in a gallery before, but whose skills and experiences will be invaluable to the project.”

Applications for this year’s Porter Street Commission were considered by a selection panel composed of ACE Open's Artistic Director Patrice Sharkey (South Australia); Dr Léuli Eshrāghi (Curator, TarraWarra Biennial 2023, and Affiliate Researcher, The Space Between Us, University of Winnipeg); and Louise O'Kelly (Founding Director & Curator, Block Universe, London).

2022 Porter Street Commission Selection Panel Statement: “The Panel welcomed the opportunity to engage with a wide range of South Australian practitioners at many different stages in their careers, as well as a range of media, including performance and multi-disciplinary practices. Conceptually, we appreciated the substantial number of proposals critically exploring ideas of non-human subjecthood, territory and settler colonialism.

The Panel was especially taken by Allison’s cinematic language, exhibition conceptualisation, and clear vision of her career trajectory as both an artist and filmmaker. After taking a number of years away from the gallery arena, the Porter Street Commission is a pivotal opportunity for Allison to establish her place within the visual arts community.

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