Ville Niemi 17.06.2024


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To the Reader,

I am writing regarding Jessie Bullivant’s website: which I developed in April 2019. This website is comprised of letters written by various parties, describing specific projects. The purpose of this letter is to provide you with professional biographical details. It is ghost-written by Jessie and regularly updated.

Jessie was born in 1986 in (so-called) 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. Jessie is currently supported by Kone Foundation.

Their work is currently part of the exhibition Chronos at Tensta konsthall, Stockholm, until 1.9.2024. Their artist book Attached, was published by Rooftop Press in 2022 and is available through adlibris, various suppliers in Helsinki and at the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art in Narrm/Melbourne.

Most recently, their work has been presented at vs at Pengerkatu 7 – Työhuone; Pihätoita, curated by Hello DustFive Stars at Working at Heights; the Karjaa Water Tower as part of Big Wet 2.0 in Summer 2022 (documentation can be found on Other recent project include: A Bad Sign, presented in the window of Titanik gallery, Turku, throughout 2021. The episodic work was commissioned by Katie Lenanton & Bogna Wisniewska and documentation can be found on instagram; Access Riders, a project with Jemina Lindholm as part of Frame Contemporary Art Finland’s Rehearsing Hospitalities programme; Reciprocities (2021) at Vantaa Art Museum Artsi, (which remained closed to the public for its duration due to COVID-19); Fantasy 1&2, curated by Max 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 Purhonen, Kristina Sedlerova-Villanen & Emelie Luostarinen; and BIRD FEEDERS (2020) visible online at

From 2020-21 Jessie was an artist in residence at Helsinki International Artist Programme. In 2020 they were awarded an artists working grant by The Finnish Cultural Foundation. 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’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 #StopHatredNow2020 – New Standards; RMIT Design Hub (as part of the series Writing&Concepts); and at Deakin Downtown (in conversation with Ian Milliss). They have taught at Aalto University, RMIT University, Latrobe College, and an Artist Mentor at VCASS (all Melbourne).

Jessie completed a Master’s of Fine Arts (Time & Space) at the Academy of Fine Arts. Their thesis was awarded by the Kuvataideakatemia Academic Council, and 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. Prior to this, they 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

Rowan McNaught



You told me that this would be the first birthday party for your book, so I’ll happily labour under that pretence. But: like every first birthday, it is more about the parent than the child. The child is already themselves, already individuated away, but the parents can’t see or understand this. They can’t tell the difference between themselves and their baby. And their friends defer. They also pretend not to see the difference.

So I am going to talk about your book but really I’m addressing you directly. To misadapt a Julio Cortazar poem that I always go on about, I’ll try giving you yourself for the book’s birthday.

Though I feel lucky to be your friend, I was a bit disappointed while reading the book that I know that you exist. I like the other possibility, that the book might attest to some character of uncertain existence, some figure of a fugitive order that is only whispered or written about. For instance, there’s this publisher, Pierre Marteau, who’s been circulating dissident material since the 1700s, always seemingly working one city away from wherever his books are found. But he never truly exists; he is just a name various printers use to print dangerous books under his cover. What I like about this is that Pierre Marteau’s become something like an uncoordinated joint  venture.

Perhaps you don’t exist? Perhaps you’re an uncoordinated joint venture? Perhaps you flicker in and out of existence, with  “Scandinavia” as a handy cover. The book offers little proof to the  contrary. It appears to author you, but you are scarcely the author, given you wrote practically nothing of it, save for the text on the cover.

Still. Let’s slow down, study the facts. I do know you exist,  because we are friends. I understand this book documents you rather than authors you. Any disappointment about that, however, is curtailed by certain fugitive elements that you keep up, in and outside of the book. Like Pierre Marteau, I think you understand that in order to maintain your own social integrity, it is best to have some of your qualities elaborated in others, and in outside things. (To gather from outside yourself the feeling of yourself.)

If you get this practice right, it perhaps doesn’t even matter if you exist or not, which I for one find comforting. And really I wonder ‘having some of your qualities elaborated in others’ is just an elaborate way to talk about friendship, which is, remember, really the only way I know you exist.

You are part-elaborated in your book by your artworks and  friends. Each letter details a past artwork from the vantage point of  some supportive player or friend, creating a representative document of the work. Documentation is the ostensible reason for the letters in the first place: they’re meant as the factual basis for your quasi professional practice on your quasi-professional website.

In other words, this all comes about within the ambient  imposition that one must be entrepreneurial as an artist, that you should undertake yourself as an enterprise. You’ve just shuffled the conventions of this imposition around, swapping a public one — the artist’s website — for a private one — the letter of support.

It’s resolute: no one likes being asked to procure a letter of  support. It’s a subjugation to someone else’s processes of judgment. Bleh! You have to try to prove yourself, your nature, by prior association. As if you were ever able to control who you depended on and who depended on you; as if you should control that.

On the other hand, being asked to write a letter of support is more of a mixed bag. Yes it entails dancing a jargonic dance. But, sometimes, if you are writing it for a friend, it’s a chance for you to make manifest some prior friendly encounter and share it in a paper trail. This kind of gesture can be embarrassing, but the official style acts as a mask.

A letter gives people roles. The letter of support in particular  creates three roles: the writer, the subject, and the reader. The writer and subject are familiar to each other. The reader wants to become familiar with the subject, and wants the writer to comfort them about  that want, reduce its risks.

A letter is an auxiliary thing between people, a thing that orients, drives and shapes relationships. Michel Serres gives this type of thing a name: a quasi-object, somewhere in between an object and a subject. When it’s still, it’s an object; when it’s moving, a subject.

The letter of support moves from writer to subject to reader. When it succeeds, it resolves in the writer ‘giving’ the subject ‘to’ the reader. In such an exchange, the reader is right to be wary.

There’s soft spots and risks all over. The reader must accept more than they understand: for one, they cannot really know if the writer actually exists or if it is just the subject in a mask. I have to tell you, it surprises me that this technique — inventing a writer — is not taken up more often by those taken to cheating or overstriving. It’d be so easy! And beyond the risk of invention, the reader may be poisoned  by the contents of the letter, be it with a false sense of the person’s background or experience, or worse, with love, which is very unprofessional.

Holding your book, reading the letters of support, we play the role of the reader, but in a floating, parasitic way. Most of us have no grant or job to offer you; only our private judgment, which we don’t even really offer you. But we are subject to you, the subject, open to persuasion. And the letter of support is a persuasive document, issued at a pivotal moment.

As its reader I found your book overpowering at times; I had to read it in sittings. Why? What was the active ingredient? What makes your letters of support different to others? In part, it’s the scale of it, the sense of reading them together, the amount of collective work that’s represented and documented. But there’s something else too, something in the way the letters are written. There is boilerplate and manners, the stuff that makes them fit the form, but here the writers veer more strongly between decorum and affection. Here the affect of  ‘support’ is laid more bare than usual, documented more completely.

There is a librarian and theorist I like, Ronald Day, who writes about how documents unveil the world. He thinks we are in the midst of a transition from strong to weak documentarity —from documents working as evidence of “types of universal essences” to “evidence of particular powers”. Documents used to inscribe how the world should  be; now we take what we can from them. They move from moral judgment to empirical sense.

Because we are still in the midst of this transition, usually,  documents seem to do a bit of both. It can be unclear what evidence a  document contains, what it unveils, and how we’re supposed to approach it. Artworks can have this dual, ambiguous nature too. Half judgment, half sense. It’s confusing.

To return to your letters, and what they document: you seem to  put this confusion to use, in order to unveil the actual support that might be stashed in the judgmental format of a support letter. You unveil that behind the convention and the boilerplate there is always a specific, contingent, powerful social dependency between people.

This is typical of the magic of your work. You’re attuned to  formats of communication — idioms, contracts, conventions — and how people are formatted by them. The intricacies and details of subjecthood can be downplayed or wiped clean by this type of formatting, but these processes also make people more useful to one  another, able to make changes to one another, through a common auxiliary format, via a quasi-object.

Your artwork comes to me as a format of formats, a way of  playing social formats almost like music, a means of playing what  Bernard Stiegler calls the general organology, the sociotechnical state  of the world.

I wonder if you work like this in order to drive and shape  friendships that would be difficult to foster more directly, because of  deferential resistances, because they’d be otherwise too much,  ‘something close to home’, to borrow some words from Ainslie  Templeton’s letter. You find instances when formats overflow, do something they shouldn’t, and shape relations in unexpected ways, slip from their ideals and deferrals.

How, in the book? Where’s the slip? Well, here’s a guess: usually, in a letter of support, people write about the work product of the  person, offer a judgment as evidence: “they write great reports, they turn up on time, they won’t fritter away your grant money”, and so on. Usually there’s a stable subject being evidenced towards a question of fitness. But in your letters, the evidence of the subject (you) is an artwork (yours).

An artwork, if it’s lucky, is a thing of active, tricky beauty, not a  thing of stable fitness. It gathers the feeling of itself outside of itself, formatting the collective of its makers and receivers. It pulls them together beautifully but it also interjects, introducing an interruption or interval. It offers a semi-external subject for everyone involved to refer to, like a soccer ball on a field, or a cat at a house party, or an artists’ book at a bar.

Each of your artworks works like a quasi-object inside the quasi object of the letter, interrupting the format, driving the writer to write about your artwork but really about you and them. This is actually less a slip than an overflow. Because of the activity of the beauty of the artwork, the letter itself is driven to overflow by the  overflow of the letter-writer.

There are five parties to this arrangement: The writer, reader, Jessie (the subject), the letter itself, and the artwork the letter refers to. Each has to operate and work together under the subjugation of apparently professional demands. Each is formatted to transact, be  instrumental, provide evidence, or exchange utility or courtesy.

However, the reader of these letters recognises and feels the  presence of an overflow of support outside and incompatible with the  pro forma administered world. This feeling countervails. It is felt  strongly, weakly, overflowing into existence, not as the rehearsal of an imposed format but as an incantation of collectivity, an uncoordinated  joint venture, one that protects against the unified disintegration of aesthetics by taking them up within the specific familiarities of friendship.

Lari Mörö

Lari Mörö
freelance art director, graphic designer, illustrator
[email protected]

May 2023, Helsinki

To the reader, I am writing this letter of support for Jessie Bullivant, in relation to their work LIL’ WET, which was shown at “Big Wet 2.0”, at the Karjaa water tower in Summer 2022.
⠀⠀⠀⠀LIL’ WET consisted of a 570 x 500 mm watercolour painting directly on the surface of the Karjaa Water Tower. The painting, bold black text on a horizontal rectangle of Schmincke Horadam
Aquarell – Mars Brown, read:




“Big Wet 2.0” was the second exhibition at a municipal water tower organised by the above-named group of artists (with Lukas joining the group for 2.0). The first “big wet” took place on a single day at the Haukilahti water tower in Espoo in 2020.
⠀⠀⠀⠀In early 2022, Jessie asked me over instagram if I could share the typeface used by Kaiku with them. They explained the request by attaching a mock-up of what they were making: a painting of the “Big Wet 2.0” exhibition details in the style of a club Kaiku poster. Jessie asked me, specifically, because I had been freelancing as a sort of in-house graphic designer for Kaiku & Kuudes Linja oy between 2017–2022, where I was working primarily with the weekly poster designs.
⠀⠀⠀⠀As a graphic designer, I have enjoyed Jessie’s play with signs and symbols over the years, (a notable mention being their comic Meta Version, which is a trippy mash up of Donald Duck), and support their work. I told Jessie that I did not have the rights to share the typeface file with them, but I described how the identity works. Jessie seemed to be able to trace the letters themself quite successfully from found sources, and the outcome bears enough resemblance to be recognised by anyone who knows the reference.
⠀⠀⠀⠀For context, Kaiku is a nightclub in Helsinki. In 2013, Linda Linko designed their visual identity based on vintage type-only event posters. The identity also consists of a set of abstract illustrations for social media and special events. The Kaiku typeface was designed in collaboration with Jaakko Suomalainen. The posters soon dominated the Helsinki streetscape with their bold letters and flat colour background. Kaiku is one of several clubs in Helsinki owned by Toni Rantanen aka Lil’ Tony, who is also a DJ, and often appears on the Kaiku posters. By replacing LIL’ (Tony) with BIG (Wet) Jessie’s painting operates as both concrete poetry and an inside joke.
⠀⠀⠀⠀Karjaa water tower was built in the 1950s and has been operating with its original function ever since. It sits atop a hill in Karjaa, a majority Swedish-speaking town between Helsinki and Turku. Designed by Hilding Ekelund (who also designed Taidehalli Art Hall in Helsinki) the tower was refurbished in 2019 and its crisp white surface was like a massive blank piece of paper. The tower is also home to Natura Seura – a group of astronomy enthusiasts. Observing the sky mostly during the dark months of winter, the society opened the doors to their observatory dome during the “Big Wet 2.0” exhibition days.
⠀⠀⠀⠀Karjaa water tower is not Kaiku, but the gap between the two contexts creates a tension that I find interesting. Who is the audience? Who understands the reference? Who is on the guest list? Jessie’s painting was visible to those who visited the tower on one of the five (5) days it was open to the public, and ascended the 114 stairs to the balcony with a six (6) person limit at the very top.
⠀⠀⠀⠀The purpose of street posters is to reach a large audience through distinctive design, proliferation, and visual recognition. This single, locked away “poster” didn’t function in that way – (note: The actual poster used to advertise “Big Wet 2.0”, designed collaboratively by the working group, featured a photograph of the tower, the title of the exhibition in ‘hobo’ font, and five (5) yellow clip art stars)– but LIL’ WET did circulate on Instagram through the stories of exhibition visitors.

⠀⠀⠀⠀Lari Mörö

Kaino Wennerstrand

To whom it may concern,

This, and I quote from the invitation e-mail sent to me by Jessie, is “a letter of support for my [Jessie Bullivant’s] work “A Bad Sign”, which was part of the Weathering project at Titanik in 2021.”


Having just laid down Jessie’s book Attached, which brings together similar, previous letters of support they’ve asked from their colleagues, I’m trying to wrap my head around the nature of the ask.

I have no idea what it means to write a letter of support for a past work. I’m being serious. It seems like perhaps something’s lost in translation. I’m neither a native English speaker, nor have I ever worked in an administrative position in the arts. Like, you want me to praise that past work so you can get funding for a new work that perhaps shares some qualities with the former?

But who wants to read praise about a past work? What possible effect could that kindle in anyone deciding, say, on a grant for which Jessie has applied?

Katie Lenanton, a mutual friend of me and Jessie’s, writes in her introduction to Attached how a personal letter of support can turn heads when a reviewer is deciding whether to merit the applicant with a grant, job position, or a prize. Personally, I disagree.

Having reviewed thousands of artist grant applications as a hired “professional” for both private Finnish foundations and the Finnish Arts Council, I’ve never given any thought to letters of recommendation. I rarely if ever even read them.

Finnish art scene is way too small for such empty hype poetry to have any effect, with the sole exception of an artist embarking on a project that requires expertise in an unrelated area. For such an application, a letter, say, from a full-time chemist testifying to the chemistry-related skills of the artist would make a difference.

That’s not the case here, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Jessie would get into chemistry, with exactly the same rigour they’ve shown for all of their artistic endeavours.


Having read the previous letters, it’s obvious all of us invited to write will fail. We can try to be witty, deadpan, serious, formal, meek, or casual, but it makes no difference. The letters are material for a conceptual work; their contents are rendered meaningless in the process.

To me, Jessie’s practice is so often about the elegant, inevitable failure of administrating relations. That’s why I have no qualms about writing a letter of which use value is a total mystery to me.

I could write about anything! Like, say, how it’s easier being a trans woman than a trans man, because the idea of being a man leaves no room for failure, whereas being a woman is nothing but. I won’t, though. But I hope you get my point.

Unrelated – well, I guess logic is now off the table regardless – but I’m thinking of the case Laurent Berlant makes for the beauty and potential of ambivalent affects in their book On the Inconvenience of Other People. It’s not inherently bad to feel ambivalent. It could actually be the thing that could bring us together: our shared ambivalence towards being around each other.


Alright, back to the topic. In the invitation letter, Jessie also brought up their interest in my former position as the Managing Director (2011-2012) of Titanik gallery, in Turku. “A Bad Sign” was shown at the gallery ten years after my stint, in 2021.

Jessie’s work was part of a durational project titled Weathering, which was curated by, not incidentally – told you Finnish art scene is small – Katie Lenanton and Bogna Wisniewska. My now defunct artist duo Biitsi, with Heidi Wennerstrand, was part of the deal, as well.

I never saw the Titanik gallery part of the project, in which Jessie’s sign piece was on display, so it’s futile for me to try to comment on it. But then all of this is futile, no?

I think I saw some images and short video clips. There was this LED prompter with rolling red text? The prompter was installed, perhaps, above the Titanik gallery entrance. That’s all I can remember.

Taking place 10 years before Weathering, my time of managing Titanik in early 2010’s is even more of a blur. So many shows, so many artist’s residencies, so many petty fights with the board, so much paperwork, all the while me being absolutely the wrong person to manage a gallery.

At that time, my ADHD was undiagnosed, I was a closeted trans woman living as a “cis man”, and I was a mess in so many ways. There you go, that’s my Titanic (sic) era. I never learned, by the way, why the gallery was named after the Titanic.


Do I support “A Bad Sign”? It’s hard for me to say. I absolutely support Jessie to death. Their artistic practice is awe-inspiring. I can only dream I had that same level of commitment to concepts and execution.

But just for the hell of it, maybe I choose not to support the work. Hear me out, then. This is not a letter of support.

You don’t need any support of this kind, Jessie; you’re mid-career. I love you forever.


Kaino Wennerstrand
artist friend
July 1, 2023

Freja Bäckman

Freja Bäckman
artist, educator
[email protected]

30 Mai 2022


To whom it may concern,

This is a letter in support of Real Questions (2020-21) 80 slides, Kodak Carousel S-AV2000, used foam mattress belonging to HIAP. Exhibited at HIAP open studios summer 2021. The work was a communication through questions and jointly made between Jessie Bullivant & Jaakko Pallasvuo. I would like to borrow that form for this letter, in the spirit of the work of Jessie Bullivant, by whom I was asked if I would be willing to express my support.


Would you be up for it?

How would you like to proceed?

Is that a good starting question?

Hasn’t it already started?

From which position am I writing you the letter of support?

When did our relationship graduate from professional to personal?

Was it before or after we were neighbours?

Why does one stay connected with certain people after a writing workshop?

What would Chris Kraus think of this?

Are you surprised I remember what your texts were about, or are you bouncing the question back at me?

How do you relate to the people you inhabit the same institutions with?

I wonder if it comes down to attachment style?

Is my attachment style the same in my personal and professional relationships?

Did you read that book?

Does answering a question with more questions feel evasive?

Is the reason for me only skimming the book until now that of my attachment style or the thought of it being my ex giving me that book?

Is that fact true to both of us?

I wonder how many ways our lives mirrored each other’s?

Did you know I could hear your bluetooth speaker powering on/off through our shared wall?

Is answering a question with more questions a sign of earnest interest and listening?

Did you see the make in your bluetooth menu?

I wonder how it would have been to have a different neighbour?

Shall we get back to the task at hand?

Was Jaakko your neighbour on Suomenlinna?

How did it feel to share space with ‘Real Questions’ for hours on end during the HIAP open studios?

Did the heat of the bulb and the sound of the carousel revolving and the slides dropping into place fill the room?

How many times did the 80 slides change over the course of 10 hours?

How would you describe the sound of slides changing?

Is it an audible time passing?

How long are the pauses between these questions for the reader when there’s no timer changing the slide?

Was the timing awkwardly long or short for certain slides?

Did you ever have cherries at your Cable Factory studio?

Can you imagine how I separated the pits from their flesh with a bobby-pin?

Did I ever tell you that I got an apology from the person who accused me of stealing the cherries?

Did the person who apologised read ‘Real Questions’?

Did I only imagine the cherry incident, (mentioned in ‘Real Questions’), being brought to the Suomenlinnan Hoitokunta?

I wonder, what would have happened if hoitokunta had gotten involved?

Which actions require escalation, and which can be solved between the aggrieved parties (or stay unresolved)?

Was it a criminal act?

Did the same question already come up in another form in ‘Real Questions’?

What emergency were you thinking of?

Would it be considered cheating, when I dived from my kayak while it was overturning, during our kayak safety course examination?

Who would you be cheating?

Could you tell that I did that?

Would I tell if I did?

Should I have been saying ‘we’ instead of ‘I’, to maintain authorial ambiguity?

Is authorial ambiguity just diffused responsibility?

Is there a limit to the number of questions, like the slots in a slide projector carousel or the days in summer?

Is it weird that I thought of you, when I recently thought about how we are in the brightest period now and how soon it will get darker again?

How was last summer different from the previous one?

What elements are consistent every year?

Is it the expectations that make the summer?

What question would you have liked to get about the work?

Would you lay your bones down on that mattress?

Can you tell who each question has come from?

Does Jaakko know I am writing a letter of support for Real Questions as a series of questions with you?

What if Jaakko accuses us of stealing?

Did Jaakko get any cherries?

Is the voice recognizable through the wall?

Is this not the place of ending our exchange of questions, in support of your work?


In closing, I would like to underline my uncompromising support of Jessie Bullivant & Jaakko Pallasvuo, Real Questions (2020-21). Do not hesitate to ask me any questions concerning this work.


Yours sincerely,

Freja Bäckman

James Prevett

James Prevett
Sculpture Lecturer
Academy of Fine Arts of Uniarts Helsinki

20th October 2021


Letter in Support of:
Meta Version, 2021, digital printed comic book, first edition, commissioned by Vantaa Art Museum Artsi. 32 pages, 17 x 25cm


To whom it may concern.

This letter is in support of Jessie Bullivant’s work Meta Version made for the Reciprocities exhibition at Vantaa Art Museum Artsi, an exhibition that, due to COVID-19 never opened to the public. Meta Version is a digital print comic book that places a transcription of a ‘real’ event over the adjusted comic images of an Aku Ankka (Donald Duck) comic book. The transcription is from a seminar at the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki convened by Bullivant in 2018. Bullivant presented the participants with a scenario before leaving the room—in front of them (us) was a packet of biscuits and bowl full of 10€ notes. The whole event would be recorded with video. They (we) had 30 minutes to decide what to do with the money and the footage from the two cameras recording the seminar, at which point Bullivant would return for our response.

The comic book overlays the transcription of the event over a Donald Duck (Aku Ankka) comic where the faces have been removed. It depicts the conversations around what to do with the money, biscuits and the footage from the situation that nobody was prepared to be part of. What can we realistically do and whose role is it to do it?

I very much enjoyed reading Meta Version and it’s exploration of ethics and values that were forced into discussion. The combination of the text and the comic book form lends the work a light yet serious social commentary enhanced by the strangeness of the situation presented in the transcription. If you have ever taken part in an Art school seminar, it is immediately apparent that this situation is unusual. The real-world consequences provided by Jessie (i.e. what to do with a bowl full of money) creates an urgency in the discussion and a multi-layered complexity to the intentions and outcomes of the scenario. If you are familiar with Bullivants’s work, you will not be surprised to know that I took part in the seminar in question in my position of Lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts, Uniarts Helsinki. It remains one of the most memorable seminars I have ever been a part of.

Neither would you be surprised that Bullivant has invited me to write this letter. Obviously this compromises my support. But this is exactly what Bullivant’s work does best. It forces us into situations that undercut positions, social constructions and assumptions in order to draw out our inherited norms and preconceptions. It plays with how we construct social realities. Interestingly, I remember the events slightly differently from the transcript. Could it be my memories or the transcript that is unreliable or constructed?


Yours sincerely,

James Prevett

Ainslie Templeton

Ainslie Templeton

30 August 2021

Re: The Tower (2020)


To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to offer my support for Jessie Bullivant upon the publication of their booklet The Tower (2020) , despite said booklet being an inadvertent plagiarisation of my own work The Tower (IRL Press, 2019).

I say inadvertent, as Jessie does, but there is no way of knowing whether this is truly the case. The fact that mine was published months before, and in development for the best part of three years, including the period during which Jessie and I connected in London and wandered around the knot of galleries in Globe Town talking about life, work and transit, bodes poorly. But I am prone to generosity, and certainly the fact that The Tower (2020) was distributed at big wet, a one-day exhibition in a Finnish water tower, is a literal alignment bolstering Jessie’s claim in subsequent correspondence. Also the implied audacity in then approaching me for a letter of support – it puts me at ease. It’s clear.

There are further correlations between our respective works, as Jessie has pointed out:

It’s almost uncanny: the cover of mine contains a cropped closeup of a fingertip; yours, a foot. Both use a somewhat medieval font. I wasn’t using instagram at the time, so don’t know how the title crept into my subconscious… magic?

As a feminised artist of a certain kind, I’m not averse to the suggestion. But more specifically than an occurrence of magic, I might point out the synchronicity of the publications can be identified as just that, described by Jung as a meaningful, acausal connection that is simultaneously numinous. I’ve been reading him; a scarab is tapping at my tower window.

The fractured but hyperconnected nature of creative economies means that intellectual property theft looms large among the ways that artists can be exploited and exploit eachother today. But preemptive mirroring is also common; where in parochial Australian art communities you can hear about how PhDs changed hands and suddenly Valerie’s showing work utilising identical ceramics techniques, enter any writer’s workshop and they will tell you, with a certain deflated candour, that this can happen before the idea has even migrated from brain to page. There exists a sort of collective current, one that is arguably stronger the closer people are socially and demographically. Perhaps a sweet spot exists where two are close in one way but not directly or diligently consuming each other’s work.

In such writers’ workshops, geared to competition and prize winning, they will also tell you that it is your responsibility to oil yourself accordingly that you are ready and able to receive and package an idea before some other automaton beats you to it. Those of us of minority experience will relate to this feeling of sitting with what seems the painfully obvious (in the most literal sense) for a period of time before finding a streamlined media personality speaking categorically for us, about us, in public. This is what’s at stake in body parts, creative framing, names.

I would argue that to produce any work and place it into circulation increases its chances of playing a part in synchronicity because of its proceeding capacity to numinosity, that is, to act as an omen. This is something which Jessie seems to have lightly heeded in taking the synchronous sign—the title with my waving foot, their nub of a fingertip—to invite me to offer support. Jungians say that it is the compensatory element of the synchronous connection that differentiates it from pure superstition. Compensation for loss of the complementary impulse, for this endless confusion and unbalanced labour, twisting in the wind, feeling like we are speaking to nobody, perhaps being ‘overseas’. Compensatory, alsofor the arrogant one-sidedness of materialism?

Jessie’s booklet already begins this journey in being structured around fluids, which belie the titular structure of the phallus, melting it, if you will. The Tower is further aligned with the severed bee sting of the poor worker who was shipwrecked and arthropodologically castrated on the epidermis of, presumably, Jessie themself. My jointed foot, similarly, is wrong-way up, flexing but severed in frame, its embarrassing Birkenstock tan and glam Orly Beverly Hills Plum polish making it, in terms of the phallus, neither here nor really there. Neither genital nor completely removed from the genital, either. The works take these incidental photographs as sorts of omens themselves (turning to my window I wonder, now, is that tapping a scarab or a bee?)

Of course, The Tower is the name of a famous tarot card, number 19, feeding this supremely numinous, acausal, synchronicity. The Pamela Coleman Smith illustration shows lighting striking the edifice to throw a king and his courtier from the windows: who will end up bested in this implied competition for landing is anyone’s guess, but certainly, it is a game of readiness. The Tower XIX is change that comes with minimal agency, disruption and destruction inaugurating a new order, as if by divine will. Its name in the Marseille deck is La Maison Dieu, The House of God. This wasn’t a strict reference in my medieval manuscript, but it was in the back of my mind, as was the Song of Songs:

8 We have a little sister.
She has no breasts.
What shall we do for our sister
in the day when she is to be spoken for?
9 If she is a wall,
we will build on her a turret of silver.

if she is a door,
we will enclose her with boards of cedar.

10 I am a wall, and my breasts like towers,
then I was in his eyes like one who found peace.

The publication of these books coincided with a period of dramatic upheavals that were at once collective and therefore beyond our control, but simultaneously experienced intensely personally, in the body. The Tower is a vessel of water storage but also, wealth, the visible, triangulated, the wrongly-exalted. It feels like this sometimes when making work, contending with the problem of having brought this particular tissue of things out into the public realm over others. It is confronting when this tissue is met by another, not identical but related, a new circumstance which perhaps challenges the gestational/developmental meaning. Numinosity then, in the confrontation with deeply personally affecting forces which are beyond not only the self, but beyond this earthly realm.

I said close to the beginning that I am prone to generosity. I didn’t mean this as a lucid brag but rather naming a daily choice to depart from what would otherwise be a defensive gesture, one all-too encouraged by the circumstances and falsely dizzying heights in which we find our labour relations. I’m not interested in responding to something close to home by attempting to deconstruct it and somehow relegate it to the binfire of symbolism each of us keeps in our heart of hearts. To be reparative, in the sense of Eve Sedgwick, is to live in the sense of structural loss, and the real closeness of that loss, while also welcoming connections between ourselves and others.

I too have found myself eating wrong food at the highest point of the surrounding landscape. For this reason and others insinuated I delight in affirming Jessie Bullivant upon their excellent publication The Tower (2020).


Ainslie  |  [email protected]

This letter was written on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. I am grateful to be safe living and working here during a global pandemic and I pay respects to Elders past, present and future. Sovereignty was never ceded.

Minna Miettilä

Minna Miettilä 20 May 2021, Helsinki
[email protected]

To whom it may concern,

this is a letter of support for Jessie Bullivant. It’s based on a commissioned work I produced for them as well as friendship that extends beyond this period of co-operation.

Me and Jessie first got to know each other in 2018, through studying in the MfA program of the University of the Arts’ Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki. There I once said in a seminar that there are carpenters in my family. A bit after that, while the seminar was still continuing, I developed a minor anxiety attack, thinking I had accidentally used a wrong word. I thought carpenters actually meant craftspeople who make furniture or decorations out of wood. The relatives I referred to built houses, the skeletons of them, not the decorations for their interiors (or exteriors). In Finnish, there are two distinct words for those occupations. Now I know that the English word encompasses pretty much everybody making something out of wood. No differentiation between structure and ornament. Nor skilled craftsperson and “physical” worker.

Since I felt it was too late to go back to the subject, I kept regretting that I had unintentionally shared misinformation about my family history to the seminar group. I knew it didn’t really matter, it intrigued me though that it still felt like such an important issue.

I can’t remember if Jessie were in this seminar, but it’s probable they were. Much later, in 2020, they suggested that I make newspaper sticks to support their text ‘The Tower’ that was re- printed in newspaper format for the HIAP open studios in November 2020. I gladly agreed, since I was excited to collaborate with Jessie. I also had read and commented early versions of the text and acquired a copy of the first edition that was distributed in the group exhibition ‘Big Wet’ in Haukilahti water tower in August 2020.

Jessie wanted to present the newspapers in the space so that they were supported by newspaper sticks. They sent me some reference images, asking if I would be interested in making something similar. It was a challenge since even if I work with my hands in my own practice, I rarely make things that are supposed to fulfill a specific function or even turn out the way originally planned – if there is a plan in the first place. Also, I’d never done anything on commission before. The status of my contribution was hybrid-like, since I was working as an artist, making objects that weren’t exactly artworks, but rather a support structure for one. I had ambivalent feelings about making a sort of utensil, but at the same time curious and pleased to work in the context of somebody else’s praxis.

Now that I think of it, we never talked about why Jessie wanted to have newspaper sticks. They’re not very widely used anymore, and their functionality feels a bit questionable. You can definitely read a newspaper without it being attached to a stick, which most of us do, if we still happen to read printed newspapers. The stick is mostly used in public spaces though, or cafés, and one thing it does, is that it makes it more difficult to take the newspaper with you. Another thing is, that it keeps the pages together. So it keeps the parts together and the whole in place. It’s a device for attachments. During the Open Studios, Jessie made a few different installations, in which four of the newspapers, along with their sticks, were hanging on the wall and one of them was either lying on a table or hanging from a string attached to the ceiling – a double attachment. Attaching the newspaper to a hard wooden stick is a bit like framing a drawing. It makes a thing that can be crumpled or torn, and easily can become invisible or trash into a more solid object, harder, more serious. It’s a gesture of elevation and control.

Jessie were a very supportive and patient “employer” and throughout the process I felt I was trusted in every way. It made it easier for me to relax in the face of this new type of project. When I think of the collaboration, it feels like the gesture of invitation was the crucial part. I was invited by Jessie to make a series of objects, and then to write this letter. An invitation suggests an attachment, a commitment. By taking up the invitation, the suggested task, I agree to become attached to the project and Jessie as the conductor of the project. The invitation, of course, also is a gesture of support: morally, as a way of acknowledging my praxis and financially, as the work was compensated in money.

I noticed, working as a “free” artist, it was a nice to be given a task for change. And at the same time, there is quite an interesting dynamic between the one giving and receiving the task. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it connects to finding and relating to different types of resources that to me seems central in Jessie’s praxis. It also produces a heightened awareness of the exchange nature of relating in the context of art fields as nets of entanglement of overlapping professional and personal relations. I have great admiration for the clarity, accuracy and integrity of Jessie’s work. Also, I’ve always felt supported by Jessie, and from that perspective it was great to be able to craft a support structure for their work (and now this letter as a follow-up).

Later on Jessie sent me a screenshot of a message from their father commenting on the final installation. He was, without having further information, referring to me as a “local craftsperson”. I imagine myself as a skilled craftswoman, carrying on a hundreds of years old family tradition of carpentry, in my cozy little wood workshop in the close-knit little community on the remote island of Suomenlinna. I fantasize having my fixed position in the community; my skills are highly valued and I’m trusted and cherished both as a professional and community member.

My father isn’t a professional carpenter (of either kind), but he is a DIY man, who always has one or several house renovation, tinkering or repairing projects going on. He’s always lived in the town he was born in. Sometimes when I’m making something I consider “crafty” I send my father some pictures. It feels pretty much like the only way I can invite him to take part in what I’m doing. His comments are scarce and cautiously supportive at best. If I was more of a “maker” maybe we had more to talk about. But I’m just a slightly dislocated university- educated contemporary artist.

Trying to finish this letter of support, I’m thinking of our families in two different parts of the world. I’m thinking of support, attachments, ways to establish and manage them and how complicated that can be. On that note I warmly recommend anyone to engage in any type of collaboration with Jessie. I look forward to sharing more time and work with them soon.

With warm regards,

Minna Miettilä

Katie Lenanton

Katie Lenanton (she/her)
curator / producer / writer / editor / proofreader / etc
Co-Founder & Co-Director, Feminist Culture House

21 December, 2020

To Whom it May Concern,


I write in support of Jessie Bullivant.

I have followed Jessie’s practice since meeting them in 2014 through their residency at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, where I previously worked.

I am a sentimental person with collection tendencies. Around a year ago, I found something they gifted me in these times of first meeting(s). I’d stashed it in the pocket of a toiletry bag, and it was like finding $20 in a winter jacket. It’s a pocket-sized “trading card” print—a digital collage of the Olsen twins with their faces cut out, flipped, and swapped. Two versions were made. It’s pretty lol. I am a twin, too (not identical). I can’t remember if Jessie knew this.

I’m not sure if Jessie feels comfortable with me displaying this artwork (it’s currently in my lounge room, in Helsinki), attributing it to them, or acknowledging it in this context. But I do so in the spirit of their invitation to reflect on “unacknowledged / unpaid” exchanges within our relationship. Until now, I didn’t remember that our friendship began with this gift.

I’m not sure how to apply currencies or value to different offerings bartered in the spirit of friendship. How can that ledger ever be balanced? Jessie has recently seemed a bit anxious that they ask too much of me, but to date their requests have not felt burdensome.

I work as a curator, but supplement my income with writing and editing work. I usually try to place value on this work (€35p/h), but it’s also hard to ask friends and acquaintances for money when they’re asking for small-sounding favours (and they have artist incomes). It’s further complicated when I predict I will be fulfilled by the task. Editing can be draining, and at its most horrible, can prompt resentment for the time and energy spent making someone whose rhetoric you’ve found wanting present as more articulate. Money helps in these instances. But when I’m refining a comparatively interesting text, and feeling flattered that the artist desires my guidance, then it can be difficult to want to monetise this meaningful opportunity to work together.



The most recent instance of my “unacknowledged / unpaid” editing work with Jessie was for “The Tower” (2020), an editioned publication artwork presented for big wet, a one-day exhibition at the Haukilahti water tower. The text was 4460 words, well-written, and tbh not in need of much attention from me. 100 copies were printed, pink paper, enclosed with a novelty-print Band-Aid. It was hard to open the publication without the Band-Aid tearing the cover. It contained a collection of thoughts, facts, memories, speculations, and diaristic excerpts. These were dispersed under headings of different bodily fluids—saliva, spit, piss, pus, diarrhea, cum, blood, blood 2, milk, tears, shit (no sweat, snot, discharge, or ejaculate). The rhythm of the text oscillates between gushes and trickles. It steadily leaks exposure and vulnerability, balanced by wave upon wave of recollections. We swim through it all, the body of the text and the spillages of bodies, a lazy river of writing that ends with freefalling. After reading it a few times, I feel sodden with juicy memories and intimacies squeezed from their recent years.

In retrospect, it would have been nice to be acknowledged or thanked in the publication, but we spoke about this, and realised that acknowledgement is something we both need to work on recognising, and asking for. Acknowledgement is a currency.

I acknowledge that since 2016, I have offered editing suggestions for some of Jessie Bullivant’s residency and grant applications; advised about letters written to institutions; edited and proofread their artwork “To Be Announced. With Special Guests. Refreshments Provided. Subject To Change.” (2019), and their thesis, Site Specific Illness (2020). I’ll soon read through and offer thoughts about a forthcoming commissioned artwork comic. In 2020-21, we are also working together on a durational project that I’ve initiated with collaborator Bogna Wisniewska, but we will both be paid something for our efforts, and whatever outcomes arise will be acknowledged ?.

If one of my currencies is editing and working with texts, and one of Jessie’s is artworks, then maybe their gift of the Olsen artwork—immediately and generously upon meeting me—means that all this time I haven’t been unpaid at all. In fact, living with an artwork-trading card-object from an artist whose practice is largely immaterial could mean that I possess a rare thing.

I am happy to be contacted if you have any questions about this letter, and strongly encourage you to fund the undoubtedly worthy artistic activities that Jessie is currently undertaking.


Katie Lenanton

Max Hannus

Max Hannus
Artist and Curator
[email protected]

19 January 2021




To whom it may concern,

I am writing in support of Jessie Bullivant’s work Your Name…, 2020, which was produced for the exhibition Fantasy 1&2 at SIC gallery curated by me. Fantasy 1&2 revolved around monogamy culture, romance, desire, queer relating and commitment. The exhibition also included work by Teo Ala-Ruona, Hinni Huttunen & Illusia Juvani, Anni Puolakka and Abdullah Qureshi. Jessie’s work was also accompanied by a text by Brontë Jones in the small publication I made for the exhibition.

Your Name… consisted of two parts: a photo of a person’s butt that has Your Name tattooed on it, and a 212 word title describing the image and the artist’s complex relation to it. 

I first got to know Jessie when they moved to Helsinki in the beginning of 2018. Jessie moved in with me and another artist, Haliz Yosef. We sometimes had dinners or afternoon coffees, but usually we were too busy with our work. Jessie and I bonded later. I think it was around the time we started working on Fantasy 1&2, but I don’t think us getting closer was related to us working together. It was more that we both are a bit shy at first and open up slowly.

Jessie had lived in Helsinki for about a year when I gave them their first tattoo: the logo of HSL, the organisation managing public transport in Helsinki. The logo is round, but the tattoo became oval, since Jessie was sitting down as I poked it into their skin, and I didn’t realise that muscles make the shape of the skin different in different positions. I think it looks nice anyway.



Tattooed ink will fade as time passes, but it will not disappear. Tattoos are forever. The tattoo Your Name is very convenient for a life-long message: it can always be applied to a new lover — showing commitment, but not to anyone specific. It’s a commitment to love in an ironic way. The joke is, that romantic love is not forever. It’s very fragile. Everlasting romance is an illusion, but we really want to believe in it, over and over again. I wonder if making an artwork about something makes it last, fixes it in a certain position, in a way that romantic love can’t?

This is only one aspect of Jessie’s ingenious, multilayered work. I’m a big fan of Jessie’s thinking, and thinking of them and their work excites and inspires me. I give my name to this letter of support as an act of lasting commitment to Jessie’s practice. I would, without hesitation, endorse them for any future collaboration you might have in mind.


Yours sincerely,

Max Hannus









Mikko Kuorinki


To Whom It May Concern.


This is a letter of support, for Jessie Bullivant and their work Thinking of you, which was realised in January 2020. During that time Jessie was living and working in an apartment which was subleased from me and my partner while we were away from Helsinki. I think this is partly why I was asked to write this letter and to focus on this specific work.

Thinking of you is a re-performed David Horvitz’ work I will think about you for one minute (2007)1. The original work consisted simply of a text on Horvitz’ website “For $1 USD I will think about you for one minute. I will email you the time I start thinking, and the time I stop.”, alongside a PayPal button for transferring the money.

Jessie was invited to contribute to a fundraiser exhibition for the bushfire relief efforts in Australia.
Due to immaterial nature of their work, which doesn’t translate so well to a fundraiser context, they proposed to Horvitz that he loans Jessie the intellectual property of his work, within which Jessie will donate their time to perform the thinking. Price of a minute was 1 AUD. So three things separate this from Horvitz’ piece: act of subleasing of intellectual property, currency and donation to a cause. Horvitz’ practise seems to largely evolve around issues of authorship, distribution and transaction so it was likely he would be up for something like this.

In the end six persons bought time and Jessie thought about them for the combined time of 55 minutes, all happened to be people Jessie knew. Some purchased more time than a minute. An email was sent when thinking started and another one when it was over. 55 AUD was donated three ways to bushfire relief fundraisers: Fire Relief for First Nations Communities, CFA Public Fund, Wires Wildlife Rescue.2

Against a dollar an artist will think about you. For me both these works centre around questions of language, value, transaction, time and thinking – all at the same time invisible and abstract, yet they’re in the core of large part of what constructs, shapes and impacts our reality3.


1 Is it really possible to think about someone even for a minute consciously? I have always had this issue with certain relaxation techniques where you are told to think about certain part of the body one at a time and relaxing them – I was never able to do that because when I start to think of certain part of the body, it starts to itch, tingle and I get restless.

2 ‘RAIN DANCE ~ An art fundraiser for bushfire relief’ at GREY GARDENS, Narrm/Melbourne, January 19, 2020.

3 Also somehow the word “telepathy” won’t leave me alone when I think about all this. When I was a student I asked a teacher to write me a recommendation letter – they told me to write it myself and only send it for them for signing. Ghost writing for ones own benefit must be common.







This work is accessible, it’s not luxurious. A dollar is a sum you could ask in the street from a stranger without necessarily having to explain yourself. The average rate one pays for being able to talk to a psychotherapist is 2 € / minute, but then you need to explain yourself. Value is determined with a contract and mutual trust – it is fully arbitrary and the price could very well be something different here. The work is also open ended instead of a limited edition.

Thinking of you sets forward an exchange of energies, money and time, and a transaction of the funds to a benefit cause from where its transformed finally into action. The amount of donation could be described as somewhat everyday. Can’t think of anything more concrete than the fact that the earth is on fire. For me this work is not cynical and hopeless, more like the opposite. Sorry for my pathos but I want to include here an Isek Dinesen quote: “Write a little every day, without hope, without despair.

Jessie’s practise is born out of its surroundings and from the communication/language that this surrounding generates. The work seems to not be aiming for attention, it’s sometimes even evasive in its attitude and can be unrecognisable as art. It’s not seeking for a certain perception or reaction from you. I sense rare openness, unfixed thinking, position and outcome. Works that can live as rumours, exist around and in the side of established structures, seeking for routes and cracks to work with, leak in, escape.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to study and support the practise of Jessie Bullivant in anyway you can.


Mikko Kuorinki
Espoo, 13th of October 2021




Yvonne Billimore

Yvonne Billimore
Finland / Scotland

6 January 2021

Re:Tell it to the birds, 2020

[ID: Nestled amongst an entanglement of branches, their dropped brown leaves littering the forest floor, Tell it to the birds peeks out from behind a tree to greet it’s visitors. Perched on top of a long metallic grey stand is a paperback copy of Jessie Bullivant’s Master thesis Site Specific Illness. The background of the book cover is pale grey. On the front cover “Jessie Bullivant” appears in black text at the top. Underneath a black box with white text reads “Site Specific Illness”. The cover image sits below. It displays a luxurious cheeseboard meticulously composed of fanned crackers, green grapes, clusters of orange physalis, a selection of cheese wedges and logs, and two half pomegranates with their jewel-like pink seeds scattered across the scene.] 


Dear reader(s):

I write this letter of support from the position of a human viewer of Jessie Bullivant’s artwork

Tell it to the birds, 2020, exhibited during the winter of 2020 in the exhibition Bird Feeders curated by Sakari Tervo in Ramsholmen Nature Reserve, Finland (and documented in an online presentation at

I come from a lineage of “bird feeders”. Writing this letter I sit at my mothers kitchen table in Gourock watching an array of garden birds dart, dive, nip, swoop, flitter, hop and dance around a row of nine feeders. It transports me to the kitchen table of my apartment in Helsinki with Jessie, where I had the pleasure to indulge in a number of dialogues around Tell it to the birds, while we simultaneously greeted feathery visitors to our window bird feeder. 

Tell it to the birds is an inviting artwork to think-with. Simple and sleek in its surface presentation, between the artwork, it’s pages pages and wider context lie complex weavings of relations and relationships. The thesis pages themselves move through time and space in a series of letters which bring together personal experiences, memories, anecdotes, responses to artworks and theoretical references. Placed in this exhibition setting of the forest, in direct contrast to the academic setting, the form and content of the thesis take on new meanings. 

“Site specificity” is undeniably a key component of this work. By situating their MFA thesis, which in part performs as a critique of the University, in a new context Jessie offers it up as a “nutritious meal” to be consumed by a new audience. The pages of this artwork claim that “illness is also a way of communicating when other strategies fail. “I am unwell” may also be a way of saying ‘I am uncomfortable / unhappy / resistant / grieving / anxious / dying’”. So, why “tell it to the birds”? Are humans not listening, has this thesis fallen upon unattentive ears within the institution (University) and if so, might at least the birds respond? 


Yvonne Billimore
Finland / Scotland


Far from a last resort, might we wish to welcome birds as visitors to our artworks? Personally, I have long been interested in the relationships between humans and more-than-human beings. Humans and birds co-inhabit a range of environments and relations, and the birds who visit our “feeders” are a particular form of companion species. Together we move beyond living “alongside” each other towards co-existence, intra-acting through our habits and movements which shift in relation to one another. Not only are birds listened to by humans, they also listen to and read us with great attentiveness. What might their readings of “Site Specific Illness” have to offer humans and our institutions? 

Furthermore, Tell it to the birds makes me consider: What are we feeding the birds? Whilst offering up their thesis work as bird feed may suggest even further disillusion with the University, the sustitence comes in the form of knowledge rather than fat balls. With this it opens the question of knowledge consumption and access. Tell it to the birds is addressed to an audience that does not inhabit the University institution, but invites them to engage and participate, to be included in the production of knowledge. 

These readings of Tell it to the birds may seem unconventional for the purpose of a letter of recommendation. Yet, this letter of support performs the very substance of Jessie Bullivant’s work as a responsive site for reading between the lines of time, space, site, relations and relationships. Their practice feeds a range of audiences and nourishes the discourses and environments/institutions it engages with. It has been my pleasure to think-with their artwork Tell it to the birds and act in advocacy of their generative practice. 

Yours sincerely,

Yvonne Billimore 


Even Minn

Letter of Support for Jessie Bullivant’s To Be Announced. With Special Guests. Refreshments Provided. Subject To Change. 2019 Public Programme Presented as part of Kuvan Kevät 2019 (MFA Degree Show of the Academy of Fine Arts of University of the Arts Helsinki) 4 May – 2 June, 2019.


I had the pleasure of witnessing a tragicomic crip drama unfold itself into my inbox. It happened over the course of four weeks in late spring 2019. The series of emails were signed by a character called Jacqui Bullivant, who introduced themselves as the artist’s mother. Every day an email from Jacqui would appear with a new excuse as to why their child could not attend the Kuvan Kevät group show. Day by day I became more and more immersed in the narrative, curious about how weird and particular the web of reasonings would get. With mixed feelings of desperation and amusement I enjoyed the growing thread of justifications. I read the piece as institutional critique dressed up as episodic small time drama. 

The Kuvan Kevät Show has become an institution within the annual Finnish art calendar with art critics and journalists eager to present their lists on which emerging artists are worth noting and remembering. The media hype around the show creates pressure on the attending students. They can feel like they are put in competition with one another, comparing whose work gets the most attention and attracts the most buyers. I’ve witnessed people around me panic and break down from the sheer pressure of presenting in the show. Bullivant’s work exposes the anxiety inherent to taking part in the spectacle. The semi-fictional artist takes avoiding exposure to such extreme measures that it becomes absurd. As they enact their withdrawal a flood of messages from their oversharing mother paradoxically keeps drawing a lot of attention to themselves. The domestic intervenes with the professional. This focus on care work along with the employed tactics of refusal and negation connect the work to the lineage of feminist conceptual art.

The work plays with cringey feelings. What could be more awkward than having your mother defend your graduation work? The underachieving artist becomes a sympathetic character, easy to identify with. Jacqui is portrayed as the archetypal overbearing parent demanding special attention to their child who is gifted but unwell. The work critiques the ableist expectations of what it means to be a successful solo artist by making visible the labor of the mother as the invisible support structure of the working-child-who-can’t-work. The way the institution and the mother show their love are both examples of good intentions gone to hell. The institution tries to show love by presenting the artist and their art as the shiny final product of the elite art education program, all the while assigning them to the violent capitalist logics of the attention economy. The mother shows their love by acting as their child’s saviourly agent, at the same time depriving the artist from having an agency of their own as an adult. Both seem to speak to the impossibility of working in the neoliberal art world without sickness.


Yours sincerely,

Even Minn

Writer and dramaturg

Georgia Robenstone

Georgia Robenstone
[email protected] 

12 May 2022


To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to provide a letter of support for Jessie Bullivant’s work, ‘[Body Pressure (Bootleg) (2018) Edition of 300 digital prints on 80gsm paper. Unauthorised restaging of Bruce Nauman’s work (Body Pressure, 1974). Exhibited in A Thousand Times The Rolling Sun, curated by Gabriel Curtin, at The H.M. Prison (Beechworth)].

Jessie gave me the poster in 2018 to replace the Bruce Nauman ‘Body Pressure’ poster I had from Hamburger Bahnhof, which was damaged from the Blu Tack® I had used to display it.

Despite my good friend, the artist Jimmy Nuttall, telling me it was ‘very second year art school’ to have the Nauman poster on my wall, I was somehow attached to the words and the pale pink – a colour I usually steer clear of, and kept it up long after the Blu Tack® began to leech into the paper.

Seeing Jessie’s bootleg version of the poster, I do not think of Bruce Nauman at all, but rather of the year I met Jessie. We studied together in Melbourne in 2015. I preferred their studio to mine because it had a window, so they graciously let me share it with them – we called it ‘hot desking’. When I googled where that term came from, I found out that it is thought to derive from the naval practice of hot racking, where sailors on different shifts share the same bunks (“This may become a very erotic exercise.”) 

That quote, the last sentence of Jessie and Bruce’s respective posters, is the only part of the text that sticks with me (I am away from home and the poster at the moment so I cannot look at it while I write this). I love how kind of throwaway the line is, and I think it is that cheeky confidence that connects both works. The making a bootleg version of the work sees the audacity of Nauman’s gesture and raises the stakes in the way only Jessie can – cunning yet classy.   

It is without reservation that I support Jessie Bullivant in every endeavour. Please contact me if you have any questions about this letter. 


Georgia Robenstone

This letter was written on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. I pay my respects to their Elders past and present and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.

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

Mark Friedlander

Mark Friedlander
Teaching Workshop Co-ordinator
Faculty of Fine Arts and Music

April 26, 2021

Dear Reader,

I am writing this letter of support for Jessie Bullivant in my role as the loan administrator of the bronze object they situated in: [In the event of fire (crucible), 2017, 50kg of Bronze, result of fire evacuation at the VCA workshop during bronze casting demonstration. On loan from Victorian College of the Arts. Exhibited in Unproductive Thinking at Deakin University Art Gallery, 26.4. – 26.5.2017]. 

Jessie Bullivant visited the Teaching Workshop of the Victorian College of the Arts in April 2017, to photograph and potentially borrow a 50kg blob of bronze. This quite impressive artefact was the result of a foundry pour that had been abandoned due to a malfunctioning fire alarm, taking form as a large crucible-shaped object with two pristine cylindrical ingots poking out the top. Jessie was hoping to move the piece to Deakin to include it as part of their exhibition. 

I found all my dealings with Jessie to be very clear. They were comfortable and confident in accommodating the many bureaucratic requirements of our heavily regulated workshop environment. We were able to get approval from VCA management for the loan. The whole process went very smoothly. 

All of this would be less remarkable for me were it not for my own particular interest in the action of legal and bureaucratic forces upon artists and their practice. Through this lens, I contemplated Jessie’s appointment at the VCA workshop as a performance-visit, wherein I was invited to attend to the peculiar nature of the event that had produced a bronze blob and the administrative requirements of our institution. 

When considered in the broader instances of artists engaging with these processes, I found Jessie’s non-oppositional approach to be of particular interest. Where many artists consider bureaucracy as obstructive or worthy of derision, Jessie allows an open engagement with it as a condition of art practice, and society more generally. Rather than seeing the bronze blob as a laughable error, it appeared to be framed as an affordance of the evacuation, of the nature of foundry safety, and of duties of care that my colleagues and I share. 

More personally, Jessie appeared to be inviting me as an administrator the opportunity to be present with my role and to consider both its actions and its object manifestation with curiosity. This is a most enjoyable experience.

Yours faithfully,


Mark Friedlander

Eric Demetriou

Lip Service
24 July, 2022
[email protected]
Artist & Inpatient at Ramsay Clinic
31 Albert Rd, Melbourne VIC 3004

To the reader,

If you are here for the purpose of assessing the work of Jessie Bullivant, I write to you with my deepest sympathies.

Contemporary art can be challenging. Not just for the artist, but for the viewer too. How often do we find ourselves asking, “what does it all mean?”

As an assessor, it’s understandable to be overwhelmed by the works of Bullivant. You might even be afraid. What the fuck is in that envelope? What if it’s an act of terror? What if you get cancelled? Or worse still—what if it’s a joke at your expense?

I have kindly been invited to write this letter of support, as the victor over Bullivant in the John Fries Award in 2016. Bullivant was highly commended for their work “In the event of winning”. It was a pre-recorded acceptance speech, saved on a USB thumb drive, delivered in a sealed envelope, which was only to be opened and played in the event that it was announced as the winner. The work was recognised, but uneventuated.

I split the prize money with my collaborator Herbert Jercher (who was unrecognised), and spent the rest of the money on marijuana. In a way we cheated; we were two artists and Bullivant was one. Despite being against the rules, The John Fries Award still nominated me, individually, as the prize winner.

In the event that Bullivant should not be successful in this application, I am willing to provide my services in lieu of their replacement. Please feel free to get in touch if you are seeking a previously deemed superior work.

That however, would be taking the easy road. I would like to invite you to take the risk, muster some courage, and support the practice of Bullivant. I can personally guarantee you won’t be disappointed—but you probably wouldn’t understand.

A true avant-garde artist is rarely recognised in their time. A brilliant curator holds the foresight to acknowledge greatness when it stares back at them, blank in the face.

It is with my deepest admiration, and highest recommendation, that you commision the practice of Jessie Bullivant: the kind of artist I wish I could be. An artist’s artist. For a curator’s curator.

So what are you so afraid of?

Yours Sincerely,

Eric Demetriou

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 Australia Phone: +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 their work, Specific Objects took advantage of a contingent aspect of art’s presentation, transforming it into a generative site for their 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.

Geoff Robinson

Geoff Robinson

18 April 2022

To whom it may concern,

I am writing in support of Jessie Bullivant’s Fine Music, a project made in conjunction with the exhibition Feeling Material, curated by Benjamin Woods in 2015 at c3 Contemporary Art Space in Narrm/Melbourne.

Jessie and I both presented projects for the exhibition that focussed on listening and that were situated outside of the gallery, in and around the grounds of Abbotsford Convent arts precinct. Fine Music engaged the re-channelling of broadcast sound to amplify and complicate the social relations of two architectural situations at Abbotsford Convent, a rotunda and a colonnade.

At the time of the exhibition, the rotunda was closed off with temporary fencing in response to ongoing ‘inappropriate’ and ‘anti-social’ behaviour. There were similar concerns of the colonnade area adjacent to c3 gallery. Jessie set up speakers in both locations that live broadcast 3MBS radio, a community radio station that programs ‘fine music’ from their studio on site at Abbotsford Convent.

This kind of broadcasting of music as a means of affecting the way people engage with space has been well utilised since the advent of sound recording, most notably by the Muzak corporation. In the 1950s Muzak were hired by businesses to broadcast music to workers to maintain productivity which soon expanded to customised playlists for public spaces they coined as ‘audio architecture’.

In the instance of Fine Music the broadcasting of music was used as a means of emphasising the power dynamics within the Abbotsford Convent arts precinct. The tension between ‘inappropriate behaviour’ and ‘fine music’ created a rupture between who is controlling these spaces, and who is welcomed and who is not. I think of a similar strategy in the early 2000s when Footscray railway station starting playing classical music on its platforms as a way of reducing unwanted behaviour. This particular placement of music from a European classical tradition in a suburb at the time consisting primarily of a population who had immigrated from south east Asia and north east Africa was an act of white washing and a signifier that your presence is not welcome here.

The control of access is the primary concern here and the way architecture and music can be utilised to invite and reject certain demographics and cohorts of people. Fine Music worked within these conditions to amplify the control strategies harnessed within the Abbotsford Convent arts precinct, and intern highlighting the ongoing systems of control perpetuated through the history of the convent itself and its greater relation to the colonial project in so-called Australia.

Yours Sincerely,

Geoff Robinson

Brendan Barnett

Brendan Barnett

11 November 2021

Re: Props for an exhibition opening (2015)


To whom it may concern,

Jessie Bullivant has asked me to write this letter of support for their work, Props for an exhibition opening (2015). Jessie’s actual phrasing was they hoped I would, “consider the proposition of being implicated in the project of documentation”. I have considered and accepted the proposition so now it remains for me to do some implying and documenting.

The exhibition referred to in the work’s title took place in a student gallery at the Victorian College of the Arts. I’ve searched my memory and the internet for the name of that gallery but without success. It is (or was) the small one looking onto the internal courtyard there.
At the time Jessie was enrolled in the honours program at VCA and I was seven years past graduating from the acting school.

Jessie’s work for the exhibition involved substituting all the glassware for the bar at the opening with cups, glasses & goblets from the VCA prop store. I guess this takes one step toward ‘implicating’ me in the work. The prop store is a frequent stop over for acting students looking for things to help them construct whatever theatrical illusion they’re currently trying to create. The drinking vessels Jessie assembled for the opening bar all had an air of familiarity. It’s hard to be sure if it was ‘that’ silver goblet or ‘that’ one I used in our Howard Barker scene study; If it was ‘that’ cheap martini glass or ‘that’ one I sipped water out of in Caryl Churchill’s, Hot Fudge, (thinking on it now, playwrights really do like inserting scenes where actors have to drink something on stage). For myself, seeing this reunion of half familiar objects was a bit like someone dragging out an old photo album – a blend of vague recognition, nostalgia and discomfort. Rather than create any particular illusion the jumbled assortment of styles gave the opening an air of cheap pantomime. I also recall feeling vaguely possessive of the cups, these were ‘our’ cups being handled by all these… fine art students. Take whatever implication you want from that last recollection.

As I try to recall something of the process by which this work evolved and came to fruition I’m drawing a blank. Jessie & I lived together as partners at the time and the general way these things came about is that an invitation to do something came along and conversations with Jessie would turn in tighter circles around that opportunity, (moving through various phases of anxiety and possibility), until the date came and the work happened. I recall more of the fictitious scenes connected to the cups than the real conversations or events surrounding their inclusion in this exhibition – which I suppose makes me a poor documentarian for this work.
Then again, perhaps this an honest reflection of how the work has survived in me to the present day – in a lucid, fragmentary way, enmeshed with my memories of drama school and of Jessie.

I want to stop writing here but there is something about this task that feels incomplete. It relates to Jessie naming this a ‘letter of support’. I have ‘implied’ and ‘documented’ but I’m uncertain that I’ve proffered any ‘support’ thus far. Jessie’s request asked me to approach the task –

“from the position/s of [partner, actor]”

There is something about the performance of a relationship here, the roles those in them take on…

Ok, here it is – most of the performances in which I co-starred with those cups weren’t very good, (once, whilst shooting a short film, I forgot how to drink entirely and threw water in my own face). In contrast, I think the scene constructed by Jessie with the cups from the props department offered a little bit of truth and brought the performativity of the event into sharper focus. I am neither an actor or Jessie’s partner anymore but, outside of both those roles, my support for their practice remains.










Tim Holmes

Tim Holmes
Creative Director
Ogilvy Canada
[email protected]

April 14, 2022
RE: Letter of support for the contrarian

To whom it may concern,

I am writing this letter in support of Jessie Bullivant for the work they created at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art’s (ACCA) NEW15 exhibition titled Inside Job.

I first met Jessie through my wife, who studied art together at RMIT where they forged at strong bond. As I got to know Jessie and their practice, it became very obvious, very quickly, that Jessie’s approach to their practice was one of a contrarian. As a creative director in the world of marketing and advertising, I strongly believe that brands become more effective and successful when they act or do the of the opposite of what is expected, or how their competitors behave. So when Jessie first asked for my help in the way of procuring stock imagery for NEW15, a show at ACCA of all places, how could I not support it?

While every other artist produced bodies of work that had a material presence for NEW15, Inside Job was hidden, almost non existent. The work was a subtle performance that was only discovered when patrons asked invigilators a question – it would be met with a non-verbal shrug. To promote the show, I helped Jessie procure was a image of a man shrugging his shoulders looking nonchalant.

NEW15 is a show designed to promote the very best up and coming artists. It’s a time and place that is generally reserved for big, bold and highly visual. It took bravery and confidence to use this platform, and risk this opportunity, to show up as the contrarian. Somehow I feel like this is not a risk for Jessie, but more something to revel in. This approach to their practice is something I will always support.

Kind regards,
Tim Holmes

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 were 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 they were 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

Anthony Johnson

Letter of Support and Invitation: Champagne at 30,000 feet.

Dear Reader,

I am writing in support of Jessie Bullivant’s collaborative work with Laresa Kosloff, “Artwork haiku work” from 2014, which I’ve never seen but I know. It was apparently commissioned by Will Foster, whom I don’t know, for the exhibition SUB12, which I never went to, at the Substation, which I’ve never been to.

Jessie described the work to me as a series of 16 photographs of texts inscribed into picturesque sandy beaches. Sometimes featuring a sunset, or a seagull, yet always a blue ocean and mostly a sky in the background. The scribblings in the sand are part way between an SOS message for a passing pilot or household fly to notice, a romantic gesture, or a ‘wish you were here!’. The content of these temporary messages in the sand are descriptions of artworks, written in a haiku structure (5/7/5). 

It is a strange thing to know a person’s artwork rather intimately, or so it might seem at least, yet not know them personally. In fact, Jessie Bullivant doesn’t even know the actual artwork of mine 1 which they referenced within their own collaborative work, “Artwork haiku work” from 2014 2. They simply heard about it from another artist who apparently saw it, – the artwork, not the fly in the plane. In fact I’ve no idea who saw the fly in the plane, besides myself. I wish I did. It would be novel to talk to them now, be it some ten years later; about the fly; about the flight; about the fly flying inside the plane inflight and us flying inside the plane for that matter too. Perhaps those on the plane who ‘…waved their hand around their head momentarily…’ may not have even registered the fly on the plane. Yet perhaps they might not have registered themselves on the plane. Such are things I do not know. Things I will not know.

I happen to know Jessie, and Laresa for that matter, less than I know their collaborative work, “Artwork haiku work”, yet I’m sure I’ve seen pictures of their work on a screen 3, and certainly that particular work.  (Insert momentary break to Google image search: ‘Jessie Bullivant artist’ and ‘Laresa Kosloff artist’)4 In fact I often think of a certain work by Jessie Bullivant. A work of which I’ve never actually seen yet have seen pictures of on a screen – yes, this screen. It’s called “Champagne”, if I remember rightly. The walls of the small room the work, “Champagne”, occupied were painted with a household paint colour titled, Champagne. That’s the work, or at least to my knowledge, and it is one of my favourite works, period. (Suggested Google search break: “Jessie Bullivant Champagne”)

One of these days I like to think Jessie and I will meet, ideally Laresa too. Ideally by accident, flying on a plane perhaps and ideally we would share a champagne to mark the occasion.

Until then,
Anthony Johnson


1 Anthony Johnson (2010) “A fly in a plane” Photographic print on paper, Aluminium frame (Text on print reads:) A fly in a plane On a recent flight I released a fly into the passenger cabin of an airplane. During the flight I glimpsed sight of the fly in flight throughout the airplane on two occasions, along with several passengers waving a hand in the air around their head momentarily
2 The beach image in question contains the text ‘take a fly with you / on commercial flight / and let it fly too’.
3 This screen in fact, meaning my computer screen not yours; this same screen I coincidentally, or not, happened to track a household fly with a cursor when said fly landed on my screen before proceeding to randomly, or not, traverse the pixelated terrain.
4 Search confirms I don’t recognise the persons the search brings up, which I can only assume is the artists themselves. Yet I don’t recognise the images of persons brought up via ‘Anthony Johnson artist’ either. However I do vaguely recognise some images of what I can confidently assume is the artwork of the artists, Jessie and Laresa.

Beau Emmett

May 8th, 2022

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing in support of Jessie Bullivant’s 2014 work, Hair in Residence; an event that took place within the open studios at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) that August. 

I am a hairdresser, and an artist. Usually in that order. Jessie and I share social and professional worlds. I first met Jessie at ACCA in 2012 where we both worked – me as an install technician and Jessie as front-of-house staff – both delivering technical and emotional support to artists and visitors.

I cut hair from my studio in Brunswick alongside my arts practice and my work as an install technician. My clients are long-term, and also often friends. I started cutting Jessie’s hair around 2016. We bonded over workplace (and art) gossip.

In 2014, Jessie had undertaken a residency at PICA; a 6-week-long artist residency that offered large studio spaces to 3 artists at a time & a public event (open studio) at the culmination of the period. The open studio event is centered around the artists opening the doors of their studios to share their working processes with the visitors, and was supported through an “in conversation” with local artist-curator Gemma Weston.

As a conceptually driven artist, who had driven from Melbourne to undertake the residency, there was not much to see in Jessie’s open studio: A few notes printed on A4 paper, a yoga mat, two padded gallery benches drawn up to either edge of a wide table. However, for the open studios event, Jessie hired a mobile hairdresser to come and style their hair. A kind of theatrical riff on the “backstage”, private, voyeurism of the open studio format. On the evening of the open studios, Kelly from Artistic Visions for Hair arrived, parking in the reserved car space behind PICA, fastened a cape around Jessie’s neck, and got to work styling Jessie’s pre-washed hair while Jessie conversed with visitors. 

Small talk is a craft common to both art events and hairdressing. It may involve remembering details of a person’s life (or faking it), delicately making them feel at ease in your presence. To have these two scenarios intersect must be incredibly rare. I’m curious if it has ever occurred once.

I wonder how Kelly felt during the event. I’m sure she was mildly relieved to go about her work as Jessie fulfilled the role of lead small talker with their studio visitors. A chain had been created and I imagine Kelly then as a type of conversational coach and support person, leaning down with a hand on the shoulder and words of encouragement in Jessie’s ear between visitors. Maybe the suggestion of a sip of water.

Hairdressers are tireless emotional labourers and mobile hairdressers in particular are accustomed to entering private spaces and performing (with aplomb) under a variety of social conditions and intensities. I wonder how Jessie did in Kelly’s eyes. Was she proud of them? What does she think of conceptual art chat? What did she do to Jessie’s hair? 

With the utmost discretion,

Beau Emmett

Christo Crocker

Christo Crocker Photography
ABN  98926551036

19 May 2022

Re: How to fold a fitted sheet (2013), Both at Once (2014)


To Whom it May Concern:

I am writing this letter of support for Jessie Bullivant, in my capacity as the photographer for the documentation of their past exhibitions: How to Fold a Fitted Sheet – TCB Art Inc (2013) and Both at Once – Linden Contemporary (2014).

After Jessie’s website was redesigned to no longer show photographic documentation in favour of written testimonies (from supporters invited by Jessie), I am happily back to represent the work again. Instead of photos, this time I offer descriptions of these works – how I encountered them, and remember them – for you, whom it may concern.

Leading up to their exhibition, How to Fold a Fitted Sheet at TCB, Jessie had placed a series of prepared canvases at the entrance to TCB’s then location in Waratah Lane in Melbourne’s CBD. Left there overnight, the canvases were subject to anonymous and unsolicited public urination. When the canvases came into contact with urine, the copper pigment would discolour from oxidation. 

The eight canvases, titled Waratah Oxidation Painting (in 8 parts), were then installed in the rear gallery in a two-by-four grid, with Borrowed Barcelona Bench, a typical chrome and black leather gallery bench (which had been borrowed from West Space gallery, located a block away) conveniently placed in front.

I remember the process of photographing the work to be fairly straightforward as there were essentially two components to the installation, both of which were immediately visible. There were no sculptures obstructing works on the wall, and there was lots of room for me and my tripod to be able to get back and include all of the show in one shot. There was minimal light from outside interfering with the gallery light which can be a pain to edit. I had no trouble creating a photographic representation that portrayed what someone in the space would experience.

This was in strong contrast to Both at once which was more of a challenge to accurately document. Jessie had installed a plaque in the gravel path between the two established trees in front of the entrance to Linden Contemporary, in St Kilda, that read ‘Earthwork to swap the two existing pine trees communicated with a bronze plaque 2014 Jessie Bullivant’. The work alleged that Jessie had swapped the two trees around, and for the record, I believed them. At the time I didn’t have a lens that was able to capture the tall trees in one frame, so I had to take multiple shots, panning the camera around, recording the entirety of two trees in sections, and then stitch those separate photos together in Photoshop. Looking at the image now, it seems a bit strange. Especially since it features a figure posing between the trees, looking down at the plaque, who had become warped from the process of faking a wide-angle lens.

The camera only records what is in front of it and can leave out aspects of rumour or storytelling that are often part of Jessie’s work. But I am not a camera (if you didn’t know), and I remember details that are not present in the photos. For example, I remember first encountering How to Fold a Fitted Sheet at TCB while it was in the process of being made, as I unlocked the metal gates to the gallery one evening, or maybe it was the morning. I think I was a TCB committee member at the time, so I might have had a key. Leaning snugly, yet at an awkward angle, in the small landing between the metal gates and door leading to the gallery stairway, sat a roughly 1-metre square, stretched canvas, monochromatically painted in a solid copper pigment. Some splatter and dribbles had discoloured its surface.

However as I’m thinking back, I am not sure if this really happened, or is a false memory based on conversations with Jessie and others. Either way, please accept this written statement as a testimony of the works as I remember them, (with the assistance of photographic documentation I have access to/on file).


Christo Crocker

David Bullivant

May 2022

Written on the land of the Dhudhuroa people, acknowledging their past, and their descendants’ connection to this land.

To Whom it May Concern;


I first met Jessie Bullivant at 3.15pm on 14th October 1986, I can only lay claim to being the second longest person of their acquaintance. We have enjoyed so many experiences over the subsequent years I can only select a few of them to share; Camping on a stony island in the Murray River under river red gums and tea trees listening to the flowing river as we rested. A Sunday excursion to the closest Mountain to have a lesson in skiing. A first driving lesson at a public nature reserve which has long been a meeting place for local people. And in more recent years I have shared in their travels, on road trips; across the USA, in Iceland, across Australia and the Nordics.

These shared journeys have often been during the formulation of artworks, and when we have discussed, for example;
* equipment required to execute “lift and lower”; 2010.
* scouting suitable West and South Australian beaches for executing and photography of sand-written texts for “Artwork Haiku Work”; 2014.
* the potential of moving mature trees for “Both at once”; 2014.

I offer these personal recollections in the interest of transparency as I have been requested to relate my experience of a specific artwork from 2012 where Jessie employed two professional window washers to clean the first floor windows of KINGS artist-run in Melbourne’s business district.

This work (“Transparent Action”) occurred in a period in Jessie’s practice where the site-specific nature of their art had been established. I remember discussions about this work and the prevalence of the use of the term transparency in the spheres of Politics and Business. I interpreted the transitory nature of “Transparent Action” as a prompt to the art imbued audience to look “outside the box” viz; the gallery. I believe Jessie’s probing of fundamental bureaucratic structures and expectations incises the underbelly of the compartmentalised Art-space.

I proudly offer this letter of support,

David J Bullivant

Albury NSW Australia

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