The Koala Room

Kathy Temin (Artist)

Research output: Non-textual formCommissioned or Visual ArtworkResearch


Research Background
Seeking to address social inclusion, sensorial experience and cultural identity, The Koala Room was commissioned for the fifth annual Jackson Bella Room at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Sydney. The commission series invites artists to realise an interactive space for people with specific needs, including those with physical, intellectual, emotional or behavioural disability. Temin created a multi¬sensory environment which invited visitors to explore her plush and synthetic fur installation through a sense of play - creating their own scenes with Koala costumes, paper trees and architectural icons of Sydney. Interested in collective memory and identity informed by her father’s experience of migration to Australia from Hungary, Temin wanted to investigate how participatory performance could bring people from all abilities and backgrounds together.

Research Contribution
Temin auditioned people across a range of ages, needs and abilities by asking them to sing a song with significance to their cultural background, while wearing elements of a koala costume, such as ears, paws or a mask. The audition videos were presented as a film element of the installation entitled The Koala Choir. Through these works, Temin explored the possibilities for creative action that come from hybrid cultural identities. As a multicultural nation, experiences of Australian national identity can be fraught. Through performance and participation, The Koala Room moves towards creating a place of acceptance and diversity that both celebrates and underscores the rich complexity of being Australian and being differently abled.

Research Significance
The Koala Room was curated by esteemed curator Blair French. The year-long installation was listed by departing MCA director Liz Ann Macgregor as a highlight of the MCA history in an article in The Sydney Morning Herald. Temin was interviewed on FBi radio and gave an artist talk and workshop at the Sydney Opera House through the MCA. City of Sydney included it in a list of “Disability-inclusive things to do in Sydney".
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSydney, NSW
PublisherMuseum of Contemporary Art (MCA)
SizeRoom, installation approx 6m x 8m x 6m
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventThe 2016 Bella Room Commission: The Koala Room - Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Sydney, Australia
Duration: 1 Jun 20161 Jun 2017

Cite this