Some participants were living overseas as the pandemic hit such as Hong Kong-based artist Cordelia Tam, an alumnus of the RMIT Hong Kong Art School.
Like many of those confined to their homes during lockdown, she had difficulty focusing on her artworks, with the infection number going up every day.
“At the onset of the pandemic, my daily priority was to track down face masks and hand sanitiser as supplies were very limited,” Tam said.
“Though we didn’t have a mandatory lockdown in the city, everyone was told to avoid social contact and stay home."
Without access to her studio, Tam resorted to drying her sculptures on the air-conditioning ledge outside the window of her high-rise apartment.
Despite the challenges, many of the artists were able to respond to the situation by creating visual artworks examining the impact of their locked down experience with others taking the opportunity to reflect on their past work and reconsider it in today’s ‘new abnormal’ context.
While the exhibition had inspired the curators to continue researching other possibilities of virtually gathering communities in online platforms, neither Rayment nor Hulbert were ready to permanently swap the physical gallery space for the virtual.
“We may have more interesting online platforms, but there is nothing better than setting foot in a gallery and immersing yourself in works of art,” Rayment said.
However, Hulbert noted that although many still craved the physical experience of viewing art, online exhibitions could provide a safe and acceptable way for people to enjoy visual art for the time being.
RMIT was ranked first in Australia and 11th in the world for Art and Design in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020.
The new (ab)normal exhibition can be viewed online from 18 June to 28 August 2020 on RMIT Gallery’s website.
Story: Evelyn Tsitas and Aeden Ratcliffe
Banner image: Rhett D’Costa, Outside, 2020. Image courtesy of the artist.