MAPA Art and Architecture. An art and architecture collaborative working between the social and the spatial.
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Hugo Moline and Heidi Axelsen’s collaborative creative practice, developed over a decade, is centred on working in the public domain and can be defined as critical spatial practice. Heidi Axelsen comes from a background in sculpture & community cultural development & Hugo Moline with a background in socially engaged architecture. Their work is contextual, participatory, socially grounded, place based; and takes various forms: permanent public art, temporal & durational works, social practice, architecture, curation, urban design, speculative proposals & community-based research. The objects produced through these projects, whether installations, devices, shelters, sculptures, maps or vehicles, as props secondary to the relationship developed and process enacted.
Their projects centre on relationships which are puzzling or troubling, such as: why are the things our lives depend on the most (eg. plant life, or care work) so undervalued? Why should land be owned exclusively and why are places shaped by developer interest and not the communities who live there? As a response to these questions Axelsen and Moline imagine other ways things could be organised. Their work speculates on other ways of organising ourselves or relating to others & build fragments of these other worlds, tools, furniture, shelters & systems which may enable these alternate relations to flourish.
Three projects which particularly operate in this regard are Owner Occupy (2015-6), an architecture designed for non-exclusive ownership of and by equating ownership of space to bodily occupation, The Visitors (2017-20) which speculates on the tools required for humans to act as agents for the plant world, & Open Field Agency (2017 - 21) which challenges conventional modes in which public space is designed and delivered.
Significant exhibitions and commissions include: Memory Vessel a permanent public artwork at Westmead Hospital (2020), Plant Nation (2021) commissioned by UAP, The Visitors (2019) MAMA Gallery, Owner Occupy, (2015) Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation & 2000 Waraji 200 Feet (2015), Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial. Grants and awards received include a Career Development Grant from the Australia Council (2018), The Sainsbury Sculpture Prize (2014), the Ian Potter Cultural Trust Grant (2008). Residencies include NIDA Art Colony (LT), Kerstin Kjaers Museum (DK); Australia House (JP); Silpakorn University (TH); Schumacher College (UK).
Prior to their collaboration, Moline trained as an architect and has worked on housing and public space projects for communities in Western Sydney, Bangkok, Manila, and Suva and Lautoka in Fiji. Moline was awarded the Byera Hadley Travelling Scholarship and the Dunlop Asia Fellowship in 2006. Axelsen trained in sculpture and installation and has worked across a range of mediums in both galleries and public spaces, in Sydney and abroad. She has also worked on numerous roles within local government in community cultural development and creative industries in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
Heidi and Hugo are the directors of MAPA Art & Architecture and are part of The Lot collective.
Photograph by Ona Janzen