Over the course of six unfolding episodes, The Unmissables – an ABC 6 x 5 minute Art Bites Series - tells the story of three artists, each tasked to collaborate with a different family to produce an artwork that represents their missing loved one.
38,000 people go missing in Australia every year. Over 2,000 remain missing long term. During the early days of a disappearance a mobilisation occurs; the media, police and community rally together in hope. But as time drags on, searches trail off, and families are left in limbo. With the fate and whereabouts of a loved one forever in doubt, this ambiguous loss is a life-long burden for those left behind. There is no forgetting, no conclusion, no end to their story.
On top of this, our culture fares poorly with ambiguity. We like answers to our questions, solutions to our problems. But there are some who ask questions without answers, pose problems without solutions. They are the people who seek to challenge our culture, to push it forward and reinterpret it to ourselves; they are the artists among us.
Enter The Unmissables, a project that pairs artists with the families of missing people to create stand-out works of public portraiture. On the one hand, this is a tool to reignite the search for a long term missing person. On the other, it is an act of acknowledgement, a promise to a family that their missing loved one will linger in the public imagination, and it’s also a means of challenging the myths and stereotypes about people who go missing. http://www.theunmissables.com.au/
The process is as such: artists meet with families to hear their stories, to understand who the missing person really is, beyond the facts of their disappearance. It is then the artist’s task to capture this essence and respond to any feedback from the families. This is a weighty responsibility and a real creative challenge. How do you paint a faithful portrait without a sitter, or accurately interpret a life without a first-hand account? And how does artistic autonomy stand up when empathy and obligation enter the frame?
Muralist Joel Moore (a.k.a. Vans the Omega), singer-songwriter Jess Ribeiro and sculptor Pimpisa Tinpalit will bring a distinct and individual approach to imagining their absent subjects. Whilst the story will weave the personal narrative of the missing persons throughout, the series will focus on the artistic process, interrogating the nature of collaborative art-making, grief and hope. The Unmissables will be observational, reflexive and process driven, reflecting on the sensitive collaboration that is the documentary process itself, by subtly exposing behind-the-scenes decisions made by the filmmaker as an artist shaping her subjects as well.
How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?
The Unmissables is a tool to reignite the search for a long term missing person. It is designed to create an act of acknowledgement, a promise to a family that their missing loved one will linger in the public imagination. It’s also a means of challenging the myths and stereotypes about people who go missing.
Through The Unmissables, our documentary series aims to shine light on the burden individuals face dealing with ambiguous loss and the way in which artistic practice can be used to reignite the search for and acknowledge the lives of the long-term missing.
What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?
Aims & Objectives
Our aims are to:
- Shine light on The Unmissables Project and the valuable work of MPAN (Missing People's Advocacy Network)
- Demystify and challenge stereotypes about the long-term missing
- Demonstrate the power of art and the artistic process in dealing with ambiguous loss
Our impact will be measured by:
- Number of artists who sign up to participate in The Unmissables
- Number of people who donate walls, spaces, materials to The Unmissables
- Number of families of the long term missing to sign up to The Unmissables
- Increased interaction with MPAN via social media after release of series
- Understanding the value of artists working outside of their practice.
What is your education and outreach strategy?
The program has been commissioned as part of the 2018 ABC Art Bites Initiative and so we will work in conjunction with the ABC to develop an education and outreach strategy via iView. The Missing Person's Advocacy Network (MPAN) has an existing relationship with media partners, not-for-profits and educational partners. We will work with MPAN to maximise the programs reach via these avenues.