It is now a year since one of the world’s toughest COVID -19 lockdowns happened in the nine towers of the Flemington and North Melbourne public housing estates. Residents were given no notice, leaving many people without food and medicine. The community spoke powerfully about how the heavy policing seemed to put security front and centre over health. Confinement lasted five days for most of the 3000 residents, but 14 days for those in the worst-affected tower.
This sudden hard lockdown and the unprecedented nature of the pandemic itself have deeply impacted communities in Flemington and North Melbourne causing significant harm and distress. At the same time we have seen the community mobilise and come together in ways they may not have otherwise experienced prior to COVID-19.
As we now experience our fourth lockdown in Victoria recovery still seems a long way off but the process has begun. Over the past seven months many artists and residents within the nine towers have been busy creating new digital works for Shelter 2 – a second edition of MAV’s innovative commissions program responding to the unique challenges presented by COVID-19 for culturally diverse artists and communities.
Shelter 2 artists and residents have been part of a self-determined creative recovery process, developing new works that explore their lived experiences and reflections on the impact of this cataclysmic event.
Amongst them is Geskeva Komba, a resident in Flemington and a creative of Comorian and Tanzanian heritage with 14 years’ experience in the arts.
Geskeva is currently studying Masters of Producing at Victorian College of the Arts and was awarded a $5000 Shelter 2 Project Response Commission, to create a short film that authentically represents self-determination and self-preservation, as well as the strength within family and community.
“Community were the first on scene during the hard lockdown and it speaks volumes to make a work that reflects such strength.
As a producer, I have supported the creative vision of a short film that challenges overplayed stereotypes of people living on the premises. The story follows two friends who have opposing ideas on how to liberate their community through education and self-determination and was shot on the Flemington Estates.
I’m really thankful for this opportunity to work with other African creatives during such a critical time, and for the support that has come from being part of Shelter 2.” Geskeva says.
MAV will be releasing several Shelter 2 new works every fortnight from June 16 to August 28 2021 providing a wealth of community voices and thought provoking writing, music, spoken word, video, visual arts and more.
Shelter 2 has been generously supported by VicHealth, Creative Victoria and City of Melbourne to resource creative expression of culturally diverse artists and residents living in the 9 towers of Flemington and North Melbourne.
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Image credit (l-r):
1. Haniyah Abdou Said, Shelter 2 artist, image courtesy the artist.
2. Ruth Eyakem, Flemington Sisters Project as part of Shelter 2, image by Deshani Berhardt (Wild Hardt)