Ashlee Laing is interested in the politics of belonging and finding new ways to challenge existing social borders and cultural boundaries. His art is instantaneous, direct, sometimes humorous and often without apology. Laing is set to turn the built environment of Tallangatta's streetscape on its head, with an ambitious, contemporary arts experience.

"Tallangatta tells the story of a 19th-century country town that was moved not only physically, but culturally, into a new era of modernity" touted Paul Roser, Acting Chief Executive of The National Trust of Victoria in 2016. In 1956 the entire town was moved 8km west in order to make way for the expansion of the Hume Weir. Tallangatta became Old Tallangatta and Bolga became Tallangatta. In 2016 Heritage Australia named Tallangatta Victoria's second 'Notable Town'. Some say the town is stuck in a time void. Its history spans just 60 years and, while its official slogan is: "The Town That Moved", a popular utterance is "The Town that Never Moved On..."

BUILDING | ART ON WALLS will be a collaborative project, placing the work of four contemporary Australian artists within the expatriated streetscape of this remote, rural community. It aims to be a process whereby, the entire community can experience contemporary Australian art practice. Artists will be asked to engage with Paul Roser's quote as impetus, each of the artists in this project will interpret and produce new work resulting in large scale "paste-ups" that will be installed upon buildings within the township. By focusing on and contextualising the gaze of both visitors and locals, these works will more than answer the question: What is there to see in Tallangatta? The township becomes the gallery and the buildings its walls.

Ashlee Laing is interested in the politics of belonging and in finding new ways to challenge existing social borders and cultural boundaries. A central concern of Laing's work is personal response to dominant authorities and cultures that contradict his ideal of an inclusively diverse society, one that respects not only fundamental rights and freedoms, but also the social, cultural and sexual identities of individuals. Laing's art is instantaneous, direct and without apology. Primarily known for his photographic and video installations, Laing also paints, draws, stages performances and invites public participation in his work. At times humorous and at times confronting, Laing elicits responses from his viewers. By inviting the audience to engage with politically loaded topics, he creates dynamic spaces open to dialogues. Laing's artistic practice provides a powerful and often challenging commentary on what it means to look for a safe place to belong within contemporary society.

Image credit: F(l)ag Man (actioned) 2013 (detail), Cibachrome print, Edition of 5
Image courtesy of the artist

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