1 May 2020 to 31 May 2020
Arriving and arriving and arriving

In these delicate times when it is necessary to be attentive to ourselves and to others, we would like to invite several artists to propose an artistic action/reflection starting from our common situation of confinement and its consequences on the notion of public space.

Arriving and arrivind and arriving

Since 2012, Rajni has decided to walk away from a career in the arts in order to focus on research around listening and gathering as political acts. In spite of this, we wanted to submit to them our questioning on the confined public space.

Rajni responded enthusiastically and has written a text about their travel, feelings and observations during the pandemic. The text is here attached or can be read on Rajni's blog

In addition, here are some words Rajni has written about the experience of working with CIFAS during this time:

"I was overjoyed when Charlotte got in touch with me to ask whether I might like to be part of the ‘confined public space’ project. I understood from her words that there was a generosity in this act: that CIFAS wanted to support artists, with time and care, and that there was no pressure to produce anything. This kind of support feels like it is part of building a world in which value systems centre around listening and process in ways that are often completely absent from the world of professional art or even community arts. It felt right to me. At the same time, at the time when the invitation was made I was still being paid as part of a research position I held for two years at Concordia University. So I asked Charlotte if my fee could be paid to another artist, who was not on salary, and whether this could be part of the work. It felt like, in response to CIFAS modelling generosity, redistribution of funds, and trust, I could do the same thing. So I accepted the invitation, and used the time to write the blog post attached here. But I was also able to gift the funds to someone who needed them more than me in that moment. The person I gifted them to expressed the meaning of this better than I could:

“It was a give and receive moment that was so beautiful and without condition … And if we could all feel that between each other, we would be extremely powerful and in such a different place. We wouldn’t be able to turn a blind eye and get on with capitalism any more. We just wouldn’t be able to.”

Here’s to not being able to turn a blind eye and not being able to get on with capitalism any more!"

Rajni Shah, Sydney, June 2020

Rajni Shah


Rajni Shah is an artist whose practice is focused on listening and gathering as creative and political acts.

Key projects - always created alongside and in collaboration with others - include hold each as we fall (1999), Mr Quiver (2005-8), small gifts (2006-8), Dinner with America (2007-9), Glorious (2010-12), Experiments in Listening (2014-15), Lying Fallow (2014-15), I don’t know how (to decolonise myself) (2018), Feminist Killjoys Reading Group (2016-2020), Listening Tables (2018-21), and Ropewalk (2019).


Archive of previous work: www.rajnishah.com

Confined Public Space

CIFAS has been interested by artists working in public space for 10 years, thus investing the city as an open space for reflection and action, organising workshops, debates and artistic interventions.

In this public space, the role of the artist is complex and varied: disrupting our aesthetic habits, developing tools for social cohesion, contributing to urban renewal projects, etc... The artistic strategies to be deployed in the public space meet necessities and constraints that are very different from the spaces usually reserved for art (theatre or exhibition spaces).

Today, however, with the COVID-19 crisis, public space is suffering: it is no longer possible to move around, cross each other, or get together. A social shock that we all experience, confined to our private spheres. So how do we make art at a time when everyone fears for their health and that of their loved ones and wonders when and how it will be possible to return to urban life? Is there an art of confinement? What artistic strategies should be deployed in order to create in this context? What has become of public space today?

In these delicate times when it is necessary to be attentive to ourselves and to others, we would like to invite several artists to propose an artistic action/reflection starting from our common situation of confinement and its consequences on the notion of public space.