The Guardian



5104/7 Riverside Quay
Southbank VIC 3006
T: + 61 417 532 819
E: [email protected]
ABN 14 612 435 687

12 March 2019




To the Reader,


Letter of Support for Jessie Bullivant’s The Guardian


I am writing in support of Jessie Bullivant’s 20l8 work, The Guardian, which was produced for the exhibition Infrastructuralism, curated by Kent Wilson at the Latrobe Art Institute (‘LAI’).

I note that I first met Jessie in 2016 and we have remained friends ever since.

In early 2018, Jessie asked me to assist them with their work, The Guardian. Consequently, I took instructions from Kent Wilson and his partner Lucy to draft their Wills in my capacity as a lawyer. I undertook this work as a favour to Jessie and it was a pleasure to work with all parties involved.

The Guardian took the form of the Wills of Kent and Lucy. I recall that it was the first time Kent and Lucy had made Wills and they welcomed the opportunity. Pertinent to Jessie’s work, these Wills included a clause that appointed Jessie as guardian of one of their children in the event that they both predeceased that child while that child was still a minor.

Among other things, I advised Kent and Lucy that in order for their Wills to reflect their wishes they should make new Wills whenever their circumstances change. I also advised them that if they make new Wills they should destroy all prior Wills (including any copies of them) to ensure their complete revocation.

The Guardian was exhibited as both of the Wills framed behind glass. Only the cover pages, on which were written the name of the Willmaker and the date the Will was executed, were visible. It is my understanding that Jessie was interested in the way legal documents make an agreement between parties both visible and concrete. In addition to the materiality of the agreement, the work brings up questions relating to how decisions are authenticated and the boundaries of what we can consider as an artwork.



Letter of Support for Jessie Bullivant’s The Guardian 12 March 2019


Jessie informs me that they have since donated The Guardian to the LAI collection, where it will be cared for in perpetuity. This implies that if Kent and Lucy make new Wills in the future then the destruction and revocation of their prior Wills may be complicated by the rules of the collection and its associated conservation requirements. Such a development highlights the vast and complex scope of The Guardian.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Moses








Page 2 of 2

In the event of winning

Lou Hubbard
Senior Lecturer School of Art
Victorian College of the Arts
Faculty of Fine Arts and Music

1 September 2018



To whom it may concern,

I am writing in support of Jessie Bullivant’s project, In the event of winning (Darebin), a work produced specifically for the 2017 Darebin Art Prize, for which I was a judge, alongside David Cross and Claire Watson. The biennial Prize is held at the Bundoora Homestead, a local council gallery, and the winning artwork is acquired by the city of Darebin.

In the event of winning (Darebin) was a sculptural proposition: a blue Samsonite hard shell suitcase wrapped in plastic at Tullamarine airport by a company offering the service as a security measure. Attached to the suitcase was a laminated text instructing us (the viewer/judges) that the suitcase contained the artists’ entry, which was only to be revealed in the event that it was chosen as the winning artwork. The text suggested that in these circumstances, a judge, or Council representative, would ceremoniously cut away the plastic as part of the proceedings on the opening night.

Previous versions of the work (shown in the 2016 John Fries Award, 2017 Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize) followed a similar premise, yet offered a pre-recorded acceptance speech as the outcome. In this case, both the form and content of the suitcases’ innards were unknown.

Jessie’s application sparked the imagination of the risk assessment team. Initially at the application stage, this work was deemed to pose a potential security risk to the Bundoora Homestead. They could not predict the repercussions that awaited us if the suitcase was opened. Perhaps the suitcase contained something inflammatory about a Councilor? Perhaps it contained something racist or homophobic? I believed an assurance was given that the contents would not prove offensive to any being or statutory body. As judges, we were asked to assess this artwork in the same way we would the entries in the prize.

I appreciated the wrapped suitcase standing alone on the floor of an art gallery. Like other suitcases unclaimed and out of place, it could eventually be blasted open by a security task force only to find, perhaps, undies and Birkenstocks strewn across the floor, distressed. Or its contents might reveal an editioned print or indeed a smaller shrink-wrapped suitcase. I enjoyed imagining the possible contents. For me it was a heightened singular artwork, its contents subsumed into its secure encasement. The suitcase may have remained unopened even in the event of winning; as we know, instructions are often disobeyed or misguided.

As a judge I was expected to declare any conflicts of interest with the finalists. Having been a lecturer at the VCA for some time, I knew a number of the artists in the prize personally, including Jessie, who I supervised during their Honours degree in 2015. From this intensive period, I got to know Jessie quite well, and know that they are interested in conflicts of interest, and the blurry line of what constitutes one. I believed there was no need for me to declare a special conflict of interest for Jessie.

On the other hand, I do believe I am faced with a conflict as I compose this letter of support regarding the details of the judging process: apart from our public judges’ statement, I am contractually obliged to keep that process confidential. So please accept this as an apology for not being able to elaborate.

Yours faithfully,

Lou Hubbard

Postal address: Level 1, Building 879, 234 St Kilda Road Southbank, Victoria 3006 AustraliaPhone: +61 3 90359484

Specific Objects


To the concerned reader of,

Re: Specific Objects, 2016

I write to you from my position as co-director of KNULP gallery, Sydney, wishing to express my support for Jessie Bullivant’s recent work Specific Objects (2016).

The piece consists of two unwanted presents received by the artist, which were re-packaged in kitchen-grade aluminium foil and re-gifted to KNULP as Bullivant’s contribution to the gallery’s annual fundraiser auction of the same year. The subsequent re-sale of these small, metallic prisms – think Judd does Povera – contributed to the gallery’s operational budget for 2017.

As a gesture of support, then, this letter is a reciprocal one; a gift given in return. Bullivant’s thoughtful offering both literally and symbolically engaged an economy of exchange that independent galleries such as KNULP rely upon in order to survive. Without governmental funding, artist run spaces are forced to draw on the artists they exhibit as a resource in-kind. This ubiquitous request for donation was, for Bullivant, an opportunity to explore the different degrees of interpersonal transactions that allow for work to appear in these spaces at all. As with much of her work, Specific Objects took advantage of a contingent aspect of art’s presentation, transforming it into a generative site for her own practice.

In closing I must, in good conscience, also reveal a potential (additional?) conflict of interest within this circular economy of support. As the highest bidder at the 2016 KNULP Annual Fundraiser Auction, I am now also the owner of Bullivant’s Specific Objects. As such, I stand to personally gain from any impact this letter may have on the appreciative value of the work. In order to avoid any accusations of insider trading or unethical speculation, I would like to take this opportunity to state unequivocally that Specific Objects will not, under my discretion, appear on the secondary (tertiary) market. I may, however, re-gift it.

Yours sincerely,

Mitchel Cumming
Co-Director, KNULP


15 Fowler St, Camperdown
Open Sat-Sun, 12-5pm / Mon-Fri by appt.

Inside job

Dr Anna Parlane
Sessional lecturer and research assistant
Art History, School of Culture and Communication
University of Melbourne


The Reader


10 December, 2018


To whom it may concern,

I am writing in support of Jessie Bullivant’s Inside Job, 2015, in which I was involved as a gallery attendant.

I have known Jessie since 2013, when we were both employed as gallery attendants and front of house coordinators at Melbourne’s Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA). We worked closely together in this capacity for four years, during which time I also became familiar with Jessie’s art practice.

I’ve always enjoyed the efficiency of their work. As gestures, Jessie’s works are often very simple, but also very direct. They pinpoint an internal conflict or faultline within the structure they’re examining.

Inside Job was developed for NEW15, an exhibition of new works commissioned by ACCA and curated by the gallery’s in-house graphic designer, artist Matt Hinkley. Jessie’s work consisted of a gesture – a shrug – performed by ACCA’s team of gallery attendants during our interactions with visitors to the exhibition. This performative component of the work was accompanied by a series of stock photographs depicting people shrugging, which had been purchased by the artist. These images were used in posters designed by Hinkley in his dual capacity as curator and in-house designer, and exhibited around Melbourne as advertising for the exhibition.

As a participant in Inside Job, I was impressed by the ethical and professional manner in which Jessie approached the project, and particularly by how thoroughly they briefed members of ACCA’s front of house team.

They did a powerpoint presentation for us, which they worked really hard on. They was nervous about how we would react. They understood that the project’s success depended completely on our participation.

Jessie split their artists’ fee among the work’s performers, ensuring we were compensated for the time we spent learning about the work, and also for the task she was asking us to perform in addition to our regular duties as gallery attendants.



They wrote up a contract for the delivery of services for each of us, formalised it all. The contract was one of the few parts of the work that had a lasting physical presence. There were also the advertising posters, and the exhibition wall label, which listed all of our names where you would normally have “materials.”

Jessie’s attraction to what Benjamin Buchloh called “the aesthetics of administration” and their interest in identifying (and subverting) the conventions of art institutions positions their practice unambiguously, I think, in the tradition of Institutional Critique.

They also arranged a workshop with a choreographer and movement specialist, who provided us with basic movement training and instruction in how to use our body language expressively in our performance of the work.

Jessie introduced a shrug into the network of structures, policies, bodies, actions and interactions that is ACCA in order to demonstrate how information flows through the institution. Information – or perhaps certainty? As gallery attendants, one of our roles was to talk about the artworks on display with visitors to the gallery, answer questions, offer interpretation or insight. For many exhibition visitors we were the embodiment of ACCA’s institutional voice, invested with the authority of the gallery’s public standing. Shrugging during every interaction we had with a gallery visitor introduced a note of uncertainty into everything we said and, by extension, into the gallery’s voice. The shrug was like a little anarchic glitch, a crack in both ours and ACCA’s authority. It made us all into double agents, working both for and against our employer, systematically undermining our own credibility.

The shorter and more prosaic the interaction, the harder it was to get a shrug in. When someone asked me what time the gallery was closing – “Five pm (… I guess?”) – or where the bathroom was – “Just to your left (… but you might want to reconsider?”) – the shrug must have made my answer unsettlingly ambiguous.

It seems to me that Inside Job was about unmasking the institution’s role as a “tool of ideological control and cultural legitimation,” to borrow Buchloh’s words again, but it was also at least as much about Jessie’s own relationship with ACCA, and with all of us.

As a delegated performance, Inside Job relied heavily on the participation and input of its performers and the artist’s ability to clearly and effectively communicate their vision to a range of participants. The work provides an excellent example of Jessie’s ability to work successfully with others, and gain co-operation from stakeholders.

If I’m going to be completely honest, it could fairly easily have gone the other way. There was a lot riding on Jessie’s ability to be persuasive. If the gallery attendants weren’t all on board, their already ephemeral work would simply evaporate out of existence. A couple of people were reluctant to do it, they didn’t appreciate being co-opted into their colleague’s work.



Perhaps some of the gallery attendants felt the work was exploitative – and of course it was, in a way, but no more than Matt’s multiple role as ACCA’s designer-slash-exhibition curator-slash-artist exploited his particular skill set, his networks and his relationship to the institution. Jessie was leveraging their professional and personal relationships with us into a project that would raise their profile as an artist. The fact that we all already knew each other was certainly an advantage to them in some ways, but it may have been a disadvantage in others.

Curated survey shows are always portraits of networks: the kinds of crossover personal/professional networks that underpin the way we do business with one another and, I imagine, the way people did business with each other long before “networking” was recognised as an essential professional skill. Art galleries like ACCA survive on the value of networking. Why else would so many ambitious young art students volunteer their time to support the gallery’s daily administration? Why else would wealthy philanthropists donate their money? We build our identities through these associations.

In any kind of public-facing job, your body is being co-opted. Your body and your personality, your personal style. You are the face of the organisation. Exploitation is inherent. There is necessarily a kind of splitting that happens, in this situation, where your personal identity, your private thoughts, come apart from your public face, your identity as an employee and representative of the institution. It’s funny, though, how the relationship between your public and private selves is elastic. If you’re good at your job, you put a lot of yourself into it. You remake yourself to fit the institution, and of course in this process you can’t help but remake the institution a bit too.

It has been my observation that Jessie is consistently conscientious, thoughtful and meticulous in their attention to detail, both in their art practice and their professional work. Inside Job is exemplary of the conceptual clarity of their practice, and their deft handling of sophisticated ideas.

Jessie said once that they like stock images because they don’t know what they are going to be. An image is created that doesn’t yet have a buyer or a purpose. It could be used for anything. It could be used to advertise cat food, a mental health service, vacuum cleaners – anything. I find the stock images they used in Inside Job, showing beautiful, yet carefully relatable models shrugging theatrically, really funny. They are mystified, perfectly embodying the placeholder quality of the stock image, standing in for a meaning that has yet to be decided. Inside Job infiltrated and re-routed ACCA’s exhibition advertising budget, and inserted these uncertain images into a communicative space that is normally used for advertising’s more direct messaging. Installed in paid advertising space in Melbourne’s train stations and bus shelters, our model avatars did a similar job to what we were doing inside the gallery, fracturing the tone of certainty with which the institutional message is delivered.



As Jessie’s title suggests, Inside Job was fully implicated in the mutually exploitative network of relations encapsulated by the term “institution.” They exploited their existing relationships with ACCA, with Matt, with us, in order to introduce their work – a little glitch, a fleeting moment of uncertainty – into ACCA’s existing channels of communication. Institutional critique is often understood according to a dated model of artistic radicalism as fundamentally combative, speaking truth to power, antagonising its own institutional frame. Inside Job, however, was deeply complicit. The charge of antagonism that the work delivered – its ephemerality, its subversiveness – was absolutely in line with ACCA’s self-image and institutional priorities, the gallery’s desire to be seen as provocative.

I think that what Jessie really pointed out, from their position inside the institution, is how ACCA’s institutional voice – our collective voice – is already split, fractured by the dynamic, elastic relationship between each of our multiple selves, slippery undercurrents of shifting allegiances, power dynamics, doubts, uncertainties, ulterior motives. The work inserted a visible question mark into a space that was already there.

I am delighted to endorse Inside Job, which I believe to be a strong example of Jessie’s work, and clear evidence of their ambition and talent as an artist.

Yours sincerely,

Anna Parlane

Direct Aerial Work


Re: Jessie Bullivant, Direct Aerial Work, 2011.

To Whom it May Concern,

I am writing in support of Jessie Bullivant’s piece Direct Aerial Work, which they produced in 2011 for their Graduate Exhibition at RMIT University. The work consisted of a helicopter that was hired to hover over the opening event for an extended period.

I met Jessie in 2011 when they were a student in my Sound Art unit at RMIT University where they were a distinguished student. I know that Jessie became interested in sound – how it is produced and spatialised – during my course, and I believe that the idea of involving a helicopter occurred to them after exiting one of my classes (which involved a lot of listening) and being sensitised to the soundscape of the city. They explained to me that they imagined the work producing a sound that filled the entire exhibition space, and sought my advice during its development to ascertain whether it would be audible from inside the buildings that the exhibition would inhabit.

The height and duration of the helicopter’s presence was determined by civil aviation safety requirements, which minimise risk and noise pollution.

On the evening of the exhibition opening, which happened across various buildings in Melbourne’s centre, there were large groups of audience members moving between and congregating in front of the exhibition buildings. The hard surfaces of the RMIT University buildings reflected the sound, and created a kind of heightened atmosphere.

Of course, an opening is about more than just the art being exhibited, especially a graduate exhibition which represents the completion of a number of years studying and a debut in the field. So in this context, the work resonated (sic) as a kind of performative arrival.

I believe it was an ambitious and unique work, and I take pleasure writing in support of it.


Dr. Paul Doornbusch
Associate Dean

p 1300 818 777
e [email protected]
a 208 Wellington Street
Collingwood VIC 3066

Australian College of the Arts Pty Ltd
ACN: 082 799 282


Ville Niemi 24.01.2021

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To the Reader,

I am writing regarding Jessie Bullivant’s website: which I developed in April 2019. The purpose of this letter is to provide you with professional biographical details. It is (semi-) regularly updated.

Jessie was born in 1986 in Australia. They acknowledge the Wiradjuri people as the traditional custodians of the country on which they were born and raised, and pay their respects to their Elders, past, present and future and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Jessie is an artist, writer, and arts worker currently based in Helsinki, Finland, where they recently completed a Master’s of Fine Arts (Time & Space) at the Academy of Fine Arts. Their thesis project was described by examiner Marina Vishmidt as a fascinatingly reflexive project which is adept at performatively enacting its critical interests in a highly developed conceptual format”. A review of their MFA work by Kaino Wennerstrand can be read on AQNB here.

Jessie has a new work, commissioned by the Vantaa Art Museum Artsti, opening in February 2021 as part of Reiprocities, an exhibition curated by Christine Langinauer. They are currently working with Jemina Lindholm on a contribution for Rehearsing Hospitalities, Frame Contemporary Art Finland’s public programme for 2019-2023.

They were recently an artist in residence at Helsinki International Artist Programme. In 2020 Jessie was awarded an artists working grant by The Finnish Cultural Foundation, contributed to #StopHatredNow2020 – New Standards, and presented work in the following exhibitions:  Fantasy 1&2, curated by Saara Hannus at SIC Gallery in Helsinki; big wet, a site-specific project in a flying-saucer shaped water tower in Espoo (Finland), in collaboration with artists Jani Anders Puhronen, Kristina Sedlerova-Villanen & Emelie Luostarinen; and BIRD FEEDERS (2020) visible online at

Recent exhibitions include WORMHOLE (2019) at KNULP, in Sydney (with special guests Andrey Bogush, Océane Bruel, Flis Holland, Elliot Lundegård, Rowan McNaught & Niko Wearden); Wayfind (2018) curated by Amelia Winata as part of Next Wave Festival, in Melbourne; A thousand times the rolling sun (2018) curated by Gabriel Curtin at the HM Prison Beechworth; Infrastructuralism (2018), curated by Kent Wilson at the Latrobe Art Institute, Bendigo; On Being (2017) curated by Charlotte Cornish at the Honeymoon Suite, Melbourne; Unproductive Thinking (2017) curated by James Lynch at Deakin Art Gallery, Melbourne.

Jessie has also curated several projects, including No, no, no! (after you) (2016) co-curated with Mitchel Cumming at KNULP in Sydney; Bedshed, (2016) at Seventh Gallery; Leisure & Lifestyle (2014) at Incinerator Gallery & Horsham Regional Art Gallery); and Interpreting Variable Arrangements (2013), in collaboration with Isadora Vaughan at Kulturhuset, Stockholm.

Jessie’s writing has been published in un magazine 14.2 (2020), Writing & Concepts 2016: Volume 1 (2018), Art+Australia online (2018), and Koreografisk Journal #6: Dressage (Sweden, 2019). They have delivered lectures at RMIT Design Hub (as part of the series Writing&Concepts curated by Jan Van Schaik) and Deakin Downtown (in conversation with Ian Milliss). They have worked as a lecturer at RMIT University, Latrobe College, and an Artist Mentor at VCASS (all Melbourne).

Jessie has been a finalist in several art prizes, including the Darebin Art Prize (2017), Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize (2017) and John Fries Award (2016). While they were Highly Commended in the John Fries Award, it should be noted that they have yet to win a prize.

Jessie has completed a Bachelor of Fine Art (Honours) at the Victorian College of the Arts (Melbourne) in 2015, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts at RMIT University (Melbourne) in 2011. During their undergraduate studies, they studied for one semester at Parsons: The New School, in New York (2011).

Jessie can be contacted at [email protected]



Ville Niemi

[email protected]

Y 2648899-9