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).



ainslietempleton.com  |  [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

Saara Hannus

Saara 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,

Saara 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): www.jessiebullivant.com

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 ofluxo.net).

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


Ville Niemi 24.10.2021

  / _ \___  _                       
 / , _/ -_)(_)                          
/_/|_|\__/(_)     _                 
 __ / /__ ___ ___(_)__              
/ // / -_|_-<(_-</ / -_)             
\___/\__/___/___/_/\__/           __ 
  / _ )__ __/ / (_)  _____ ____  / /_
 / _  / // / / / / |/ / _ `/ _ \/ __/



To the Reader,

I am writing regarding Jessie Bullivant’s website: jessiebullivant.com which I developed in April 2019. 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 presenting a new episodic work in the window of Titanik gallery, Turku, over 2021. Updates can be found on instagram @something.is.weatheringThey recently launched Access Riders, a project with Jemina Lindholm as part of Rehearsing Hospitalities, Frame Contemporary Art Finland’s public programme for 2019-2023.

They are currently an artist in residence at Helsinki International Artist Programme. Recent projects include 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 Saara Hannus at SIC Gallery in Helsinki; big wet, a site-specific project in a flying-saucer shaped water tower in Espoo (Finland), in collaboration with artists Jani Anders Puhronen, Kristina Sedlerova-Villanen & Emelie Luostarinen; and BIRD FEEDERS (2020) visible online at ofluxo.net.

In 2020 Jessie was 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

The Guardian



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

12 March 2019




To the Reader,


Letter of Support for Jessie Bullivant’s The Guardian


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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

Yours faithfully,

Paul Moses








Page 2 of 2

In the event of winning

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

1 September 2018



To whom it may concern,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours faithfully,

Lou Hubbard

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

Specific Objects


To the concerned reader of www.jessiebullivant.com,

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.

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

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.










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.

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