Deadline: 05 / 08 / 2022

Science Gallery Melbourne is inviting proposals for projects to be included in our 2023 exhibition ‘Dark Matters’. This open call is extended to everyone, from every level of experience and from every discipline and every culture. First Peoples, Queer, CALD, BIPOC, Neuro-diverse, Disabled People and people from the Deaf community are encouraged to apply.

Dark Matters explores the fundamental essence of life and the universe and how so much of it remains a mystery to us. We don’t know what makes up about 95% of our universe – which we believe is dark energy (70%) and dark matter (25%). Dark matter consists of a mysterious substance that does not present an interaction with electromagnetic forces, which means it does not absorb, reflect it, or emit light.

In an era defined by the power of modelling data, technology and simulations, the search for dark matter can be seen as a symbol of the limits of our cognitive experience – will we ever fully understand it? What other unseen or unspoken materialitys and forces are at play in our lives? How can the search for dark matter help us imagine new possibilities for life, and our relationship with non-human entities and systems? How can we build creative technologies and tools that help us access new environments and understandings that are undefinable, unmeasurable, and unsettling? We want to consider how the hypothesis of dark matter changes how we think about ourselves, both on an individual level and on a planetary and universal scale.

This open call invites you to propose projects, tools, scenarios, and relational experiences that enable a deeper exploration of this extraordinary experience we call life and nature and all the dark matter that flows under it, runs through it and collides with it.

Potential subthemes:

·      Speculations about dark matter and the unknowns and mysteries of our universe

·      The future of science, technology, and life on Earth

·      How we envisage the future and whether we imagine a better world or not

·      The elementary nature of things and our understanding of them

·      The disappearance of time and our subjective experiences of this

·      How we view things in our own image and the limits of this

·      Unseen, unspoken or taboo ideas or forces

·      The continuously expanding universe, a curved spacetime born 14 billion years ago

·      Dart matter as a social metaphor for urgent conversations around critical race theory, social justice, and the climate emergency and the underlying forces that make these things an issue

·      Family, ancestry, community, and the invisible bonds that tie us together through space and time

·      First Peoples knowledges and cultural practices and their contributions to our understanding of the universe, Indigenous and Afrofuturism.

DARK MATTERS will be curated in collaboration with Mónica Bello, Head of Arts at CERN and a curatorial panel of young people. The exhibition will be developed in collaboration with Arts at CERN and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics with the support of an expert panel.

Some considerations:

You can respond directly to these ideas, or you can think laterally; we love an idea that is head-scratching, then eyebrow-raising, and then pupil dilating as we become awed by the brilliance of your mind. And, of course, you can raise a related question or subtheme we have not even considered yet!

We look for creative proposals that really consider the audience’s experiences and disrupt the idea that galleries are places where you only view things. We also love projects that are experimental, take risks, produce new knowledge, raise new questions, or provide new experiences that have the potential to change the way someone thinks. And most of all, we love projects that are interesting to the young people (15–25-year old’s) who are at the heart of everything we do.

Projects can be new, in-development or existing works that have already been presented. They can take any form and involve any equipment or materials. The exhibition will be on for approximately 4 months, so this should be taken into consideration. However, projects can be evolving and dynamic and continue to experiment with time and space and take risks over this time. 

Typically, projects selected via our open calls are funded for up to $8,000 AUD (Australian Dollar), which would include all fees, materials, and travel costs. In this application, we are just looking for a general sense of your project’s viability within this scope, and budgets will be discussed if your project makes it to the second stage of interviews. Projects with co-funding will be considered (please include confirmation letters with your support material or demonstrate your plan to secure it and contingencies for downscaling the work if the extra funding is not secured).