“The program I look after usually consists of physical events, with 300-500 teens coming into the gallery,” artist and AGSA teen programs officer Bernadette Klavins tells The Adelaide Review.
Since COVID-19 restrictions forced AGSA and its contemporaries to close in March, Klavins and a team of Neo ambassadors aged between 13 and 17 (“it’s been great working with them via Zoom chat meetings and Slack”) have been working to reimagine their program outside the gallery space.
“It obviously doesn’t make sense to pursue physical events at this time, so we pretty quickly turned to an online platform to find a way to present what would usually be our large scale event for the year, the ‘Neo Teen Takeover’, supported by The Balnaves Foundation.”
In this instance, the program’s ‘Monstrous’ brief comes in response to the 2020 Adelaide Biennial’s ‘Monster Theatres’ theme. The exhibition, which has had its season essentially halved by the pandemic, featured a colourful and at times confronting array of multi-disciplinary work.
“The way we’ve been responding to different artworks in the exhibition is to try and find fun and accessible points of connection,” she explains. “But also use it to start conversation around things happening in the world.”
In this context, even the darker, sharper edges of ‘Monster Theatres’ that don’t exactly scream ‘youth programming’ – and in the 2020 Biennial, there are many – can play an important role.