Curated by Torika Bolatagici

Presented by Metro Arts as part of an exchange with Bus Projects

This ambitious new work invites you to consider the body as an archive, and how embodied frequencies, cadences, and densities guide our movement through neo-colonial spaces.

Volume: Bodies of Knowledges is the latest Community Reading Room project and features new commissioned work by nine multidisciplinary First Nations, Black, global Indigenous artists. Shifting the focus from the written word as the privileged material of the archive, the artists in Volume invite us to consider the body as an archive and how embodied frequencies, cadences, and densities guide our movement through neo-colonial spaces to produce new ways of knowing and being. In the words of Julietta Singh, “the body archive is an attunement, a hopeful gathering, an act of love against the foreclosures of reason. It is a way of knowing the body-self as a becoming and unbecoming thing, of scrambling time and matter, of turning toward rather than against oneself.”

The colonial impulse fuels our “otherness” by separating us from our knowledges. As artists who exist at the nexus of varying intersections of marginality we have all felt the weight of of tokenism, or having our knowledges extracted from us by institutions who only allow entry to spaces when we arrive as abstractions, not embodied and not agentic humans. In the words of Shivanjani Lal, through the colonial project “we lost our bodies, we lost our sweetness and we lost our place in history.” (from Dursee Desh, Shivanjani Lal, 2021). Volume is a recovery – a recovery of our place in history; a return to mother tongues, a return to the knowledges that live in our flesh, in our relationships with our ancestors, our children, our kin, our environment, in attunement with ourselves and each other.


The Community Reading Room (CRR) was founded in 2013 by Fijian-Australian artist and educator, Torika Bolatagici and grew out of a community need for a collection and space for First Nations, Black, global Indigenous artists of colour to connect with each other and an archive of books and ephemera that privileged the creative practices of their kin, ancestors and peers. The CRR was established as a response to shared lived-experiences of practitioners and students who were (and continue to be) exhausted by a monocultural curriculum that ignored their presence, excluded their historical contributions and contemporary reference points. Over the past nine years, the CRR has evolved from a static collection, to one that incorporates a co-curated program of exhibitions and events to engage the public with the themes arising from the collection.

The CRR has been presented at Footscray Community Arts Centre, Arts House, Colour Box Studio, Testing Grounds and Metro Arts and engaged with public programming events with the Emerging Writers Festival, MUMA and MPavilion. With each iteration, Torika partners with artists and collectives who are interested in working outside formal institutional frameworks to create a counterspace for critical dialogue and alternative modes for creative practice and presentation. The ongoing project aims to create a life-affirming space that values and centres the breadth and depth of creative practices and art writing that exist outside the Western canon. It is intended as a safe space for marginalized folx to be in contemplation and in-conversation with each other without the weight of the institutional gaze.

Previous collaborators have included Reading Oceania; the Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival; Stéphanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe; Still Nomads; this mob; Laniyuk; Black Birds, Mary Quinsacara; Denise Chapman; BLK School and Negro Speaks of Books among others. More than just a collection of books, the CRR is a discursive project and generates discussion about archives, the valuing of knowledges, the inclusivity of creative arts education and specifically how our institutions of knowledge privilege particular methodologies and ways of knowing.

Yaca by Emele Ugavule and Sereima Adimate.
HD Video, stereo sound, 5min32sec, 2022.
Gallery Two, Metro Arts.

Volume: Bodies of Knowledge.
Gallery One, Metro Arts.
Documentation by Louis Lim.

Please note: In line with Queensland Health regulations, all patrons and visitors at Metro Arts will be required to be fully vaccinated until 14 April 2022. Proof must be presented on entry to venue staff. Find out more here.


 Sat 12 Feb – Sat 19 Mar

PLEASE NOTE: Due to flood repairs, Gallery Two and part of this exhibition has had to close early. The rest of the works can be viewed in Gallery One and the Window Gallery for an extended period until 19 Mar.


Gallery One, Gallery Two and Window Gallery
Metro Arts, West End

This exhibition is part of the Bus Projects x Metro Arts exchange, and an iteration of the exhibition will be exhibited at Bus Projects from 16 August – 17 September, 2022. In the first part of this exchange in 2021 Metro Arts presented At Arm’s Length by Queensland based Lacey-Law-Lobwein, which will be presented at Bus Projects from 12 April – 14 May, 2022.

Image Credit: Un-Braided Seeds of Home by Denise Chapman, 2022.


Sat 12 Feb 9am – 9pm
Sun 13 Feb CLOSED
Mon 14 Feb CLOSED
Tue 15 Feb 8:30am – 5:00pm
Wed 16 Feb 8:30am – 5:00pm
Thu 17 Feb 8:30am – 5:00pm
Fri 18 Feb 8:30am – 5:00pm
Sat 19 Feb 9:00am – 7:00pm
Sun 20 Feb CLOSED
Mon 21 Feb CLOSED
Tue 22 Feb
8:30am – 5:00pm
Wed 23 Feb
8:30am – 5:00pm
Thu 24 Feb
8:30am – 9:00pm
Fri 25 Feb
8:30am – 9:00pm
Sat 26 Feb
9:00am – 9:00pm
Sun 20 Feb CLOSED
Mon 21 Feb CLOSED
Tue 1 – Mon 7 Mar CLOSED
Tue 8 Mar 9:00am – 7:00pm
Wed 9 Mar 9:00am – 7:00pm
Thu 10 Mar 9:00am – 7:00pm
Fri 11 Mar 8:30am – 9:00pm
Sat 12 Mar 8:30am – 9:00pm
Sun 13 Mar CLOSED
Mon 14 Mar CLOSED
Tue 15 Mar 8:30am – 5:00pm
Wed 16 Mar 8:30am – 9:00pm
Thu 17 Mar 8:30am – 9:00pm
Fri 18 Mar 8:30am – 9:00pm
Sat 19 Mar 9:00am – 9:00pm


Torika Bolatagici – Curator
Torika is a Naarm/Melbourne-based artist working across a range of media including photography, video, projection, publication and installation. Her work shifts between the languages of documentary, archival recovery, re-enactment and abstraction to explore tensions and intersections between gender, power, commodification, migration and globalisation. Torika also produces multidisciplinary projects centering the counter-narrative of marginalised histories and knowledges through curatorial collaboration, symposia and public programming. She is the recipient of numerous grants from the Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria and the National Association of Visual Arts and her work has been exhibited in public and private institutions in San Francisco, New York, Miami, Taiwan, Mexico City, Yogyakarta and throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia. Torika holds a PhD from the School of Art and Design (UNSW), is a current studio artist at Collingwood Yards and is a sessional lecturer in the School of Art at RMIT.

Denise Chapman
Denise Chapman is a counternarrative storyteller, spoken word poet, and critical autoethnographer who lectures in children’s literature / early literacy at Monash University. She has served as a literacy specialist focused on critical media literacy in Australia, Fiji, and the United States. Denise uses oral stories, children’s literature, poetry, and digital images as counternarrative windows for liberation. She is currently
exploring the lack of diverse transmedia stories for children and how this impacts children’s imagined possibilities.

Shivanjani Lal
Shivanjani Lal is a twice-removed Fijian-Indian-Australian artist and curator. As an artist living in Australia, she is tied to a long history of familial movement; her work uses personal grief to account for ancestral loss and trauma. She is a member of the indentured labourer diaspora from the Indian and Pacific oceans. She employs intimate images of family, sourced from photo albums, along with video and images from contemporary travels to the Asia-Pacific to reconstruct temporary landscapes. These landscapes act as shifting sites for diasporic healing – from which she emerges. A fundamental concern in the work is how art develops and represents culture as it transitions between contexts, while also probing the experiences of women in these situations of flux.

Emele Ugavule
Emele is of Tokelauan and Fijian descent. She is a multidisciplinary storyteller. Emele works across live performance, film, tv & digital media as a writer, director, producer, performer, educator and mentor. Her work explores creative processes and outcomes grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing, and nurturing the vā where where embodiment, cultural expression, digitisation and neuroscience intersect.

Ema Tavola
Ema (Dravuni – Fiji, Pākehā) is an artist-curator which she says mostly involved her being an arts manager, advocate and hype woman of Moana Oceania arts and culture. She is the Director of Vunilagi Vou, an independent exhibitions gallery and consultancy in South Auckland. She is also a māmā to her daughter, Lanuola. Recent curatorial projects include; A Maternal Lens (2018) for the 4th International Biennial of Casablanca (Morocco); Dravuni: Sivia yani na Vunilagi – Beyond the Horizon (2016/2018) for the New Zealand Maritime Museum and Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific (Fiji); Kaitani (2017) for The Physics Room (New Zealand).

Kelly Ka-Lai Chan
Kelly Ka-Lai Chan is a video ethnographer and educator who makes videos to tell stories about humans and more-than-humans. Kelly was a lecturer at Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts & Hong Kong Art School before joining RMIT School of Education for her PhD study on using visual methods to explore subjectivities of artist-activists in Hong Kong.

Jane Chang Mi
As an artist and ocean engineer, Jane Chang Mi assesses the post-colonial ocean environment through interdisciplinary research. She examines the narratives associated with the underwater landscape considering the past, present, and future. Mi most often focuses on the occupation and militarization of the Pacific Ocean by the United States. This interest emerges from her background as an ocean engineer, a
field that is inextricably linked to the American military complex. Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, most recently at Te Uru Waitakere and ST Paul Street Gallery in Aotearoa (New Zealand) in 2019. She has been a scientist at the Arctic Circle Program (2010), a recipient of the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts grant (2014), and a fellow at the East West Center at the University of Hawaii, Manoa (2012).

Laniyuk was born of a French mother and a Larrakia, Kungarrakan and Gurindji father. Her poetry and short memoir often reflects the intersectionality of her cross cultural and queer identity. She was fortunate enough to contribute to the book Colouring the Rainbow: Blak Queer and Trans Perspectives as well as winning the Indigenous residency for Canberra’s Noted Writers Festival 2017. Laniyuk received Overland’s Writers Residency for 2018 as well as being shortlisted for Overland’s 2018 Nakata-Brophy poetry prize.

Stéphanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe
Stéphanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe is a Rwandan-British composer and multidisciplinary artist. Through her viewpoint as a synaesthetic “third-culture kid,” her research-based arts practice investigates the construction and archiving of culture through transcription into visual languages. Stéphanie uses music and performance practice to articulate these languages in a tangible, storytelling format, which enables cultural context to remain and be respected. Stéphanie is a presenter on ABC Classic radio program Passenger.

Lia Pa’apa’a
Lia Pa’apa’a is an artist whose ancestors hail from Samoa and the Luiseño nation of Southern California. Born and raised in Australia, Lia is committed to delivering innovative arts and cultural programming that support BIPOC communities. Lia is an artist Creative Producer and Community Arts Cultural Development practitioner working across art forms. Lia is developing her practice with a focus on ancestral arts and cultural practices that support mothers during the first 1000 days.


This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.



We take the safety of our patrons, staff and artists seriously. Metro Arts is operating in line with current Queensland Government guidelines. If you are unwell, please refrain from attending events at Metro Arts. Maintaining physical distancing requirements is expected and is the individual’s responsibility. Click here for more information.