12 May 2020

Art in the time of COVID-19: Bega gallery offers virtual tour of The Ambassador

| Elka Wood
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Man sitting inside The Ambassador exhibition at Bega Valley Regional Gallery.

Bega Valley Regional Gallery is providing images and a virtual tour of its latest exhibition, Eugenia Lim’s The Ambassador, until the public is permitted to visit in person again. Photo: David Rogers.

Inside the Bega Valley Regional Gallery (BVRG), an exhibition by Melbourne-based artist Eugenia Lim has been set up and expertly lit, highlighting her playful and witty take on Asian-Australian history.

But, of course, no-one can see it due to COVID-19 restrictions so the gallery has organised a virtual tour of Lim’s work, hoping to keep regional art alive throughout the pandemic.

Lim’s latest work, The Ambassador trilogy, drills down into racial politics, the social costs of manufacturing and the role of architecture in shaping society.

In character as The Ambassador, a gold-suited Mao-like persona who inhabits the space between truth and fantasy, Lim gives her audience a glimpse into her world – female, performative and Asian-Australian.

BVRG director Iain Dawson said The Ambassador will begin its Bega stint in an online space only, with the public able to take a self-guided 3D tour of the show via the gallery’s website.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the gallery to present an incredible contemporary Australian exhibition while in such unique circumstances,” said Mr Dawson.

Throughout each of the three parts of the trilogy, The Ambassador takes on new roles in uncovering the Australian-Asian narrative.

Eugenia Lim in character as The Ambassador from her exhibition at Bega Valley Regional Gallery.

Occupying a place between truth and fantasy, Eugenia Lim’s character of The Ambassador travels through history shedding light on the role of Asian-Australians. Photo: Supplied.

In part one, Yellow Peril (2015), Lim contemplates the fraught stories from the first wave of Chinese migrants seeking to make their fortune in the Australian gold rush.

In part two, The People’s Currency (2017) transforms the gallery into a ‘special economic zone’. Within this zone, The Ambassador stands over her factory manufacturing counterfeit money and ceramic imitation electronic consumer goods.

The Australian Ugliness (2018), part three of the series, surveys the role of architecture in marking a society and shaping national identity.

Mr Dawson said BVRG had found itself in a place where it was able to pivot quite rapidly towards presenting its exhibition and education program online as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Since the gallery closed its physical space, we have tripled traffic on our website and have presented a range of engaging and innovative online offerings,” he said.

“We’re thrilled to be working with 4A [4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art], MGNSW [Museums & Galleries of NSW] and Eugenia, and think we can offer more complete exhibition experiences for everyone in our Shire using available technologies into the future.”

The Ambassador is a 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and Museums & Galleries of NSW initiated touring project.

“We hope to be able to welcome visitors to view the final exhibition in the gallery if and when possible,” added Mr Dawson.

Eugenia Lim’s The Ambassador runs until 19 June 2020.

For more information, visit the Bega Valley Regional Gallery website.

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