Giselle Stanborough understands that making art is about taking risks. The Sydney-based artist is best known for playfully skewering ideas around selfhood, femininity and power in the age of social media. Her 2016 work ‘Lozein: Find the Lover You Deserve’ revolved around a fictional match-making service. The 2018 project ‘Giselle Dates’ engineered ‘art dates’ between artist and viewer using apps such as Tinder.
In April 2019, Stanborough, along with Sally Rees and Frances Barrett, was a recipient of Suspended Moment: The Katthy Cavaliere Fellowship. The $100,000 art prize – which honours the legacy of trailblazing Italian-Australian artist Katthy Cavaliere – is one of the country’s richest awards for female-identifying artists. It’s also given Stanborough the strength to push her work further than before.
“[Now] is a time for courage and that is what [winning the fellowship] means for me,” says Stanborough. In March, she will present the outcome of the fellowship at Carriageworks in the form of Cinopticon, an installation and series of performances based on theories of surveillance by the philosopher Michel Foucault. “Performance is such a physical, embodied form. The work is you. It’s where your skin ends, and the air begins.” She smiles. “It’s so important that women are given this opportunity. It’s what Katthy wanted.”
Cavaliere, who died of ovarian cancer in 2012 at age 39, made deeply personal works about grief, dislocation and the experience of being a woman. She fearlessly mined her own life for material. She gifted viewers her childhood possessions as part of a 1999 solo show at Sydney’s Artspace. She sat naked in a cardboard box as part of ‘brown paper’, a 2001 performance inspired by one of her mentors, Marina Abramović. She paid tribute to her late mother, who also passed away from cancer, perching atop a pile of her clothing and gazing at the Pacific Ocean as part of a 2010 video called ‘nest’.
The fellowship, which champions new work by women artists at the forefront of performance and installation, will see Stanborough, Barrett and Rees present simultaneous exhibitions at Carriageworks, ACCA and Mona from March 2020. It also keeps Cavaliere’s artistic spirit alive.