Tue 5 Dec 2023–Sat 27 Jan 2024

Tintin Wulia: Secrets

RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, Australia


Andrew TetzlaffTintin Wulia

A Thousand and One Martian Nights (Wulia 2017). Single-channel video projection, surveillance camera, telematic structure, screening room, 38’1” (loop). Image courtesy of the artist.

Tintin Wulia: Secrets at RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

My grandfather’s forced disappearance, after the family home was sacked and burnt, happened before I was born. His memory and the memory of his disappearance—a major part of my self-identity—were kept alive in our family, but in necessity of survival was made a secret. As such, it was like a locked box safeguarded very close to our hearts: intimate and treasured, yet simultaneously distant, unfamiliar, unspoken, unspeakable. If affect was a spectrum of colors, affective thinking meant discerning the nuances of wavelengths reflected by the surface of an object that is not absent but remains as a ghost. These echoic, rootless nuances, finely distinctive, were critical in apprehending my self-identity. (Wulia 2022, p. 198)

Secrets have accompanied me along my extended aesthetic investigation on borders. In this exhibition I practice averted vision (Wulia 2021, p. 46), shifting my deliberation from the horizon of borders onto this faithful travel companion. Both secrets and borders play crucial roles in shaping identities—personal and national. Both are a source of power—nation-states exercise power through border control and state secrets, individuals play with power through hiding and revealing similar boundaries. Through the works in this solo exhibition, I probe secrets across spaces and domains—from the intimate to the public, from personal secrets to state secrets—and how they intertwine. All these secrets are histories and memories that are made invisible in the necessity of survival, across a continuum of collective intelligence. However, in both the formation and maintenance of secrets and borders, invisibility leads to intangibility, and over time, imperceptibility. This exhibition, in effect, is a refusal to comply with imperceptibility.


Wulia, T. (2021). How things-in-common hold us together. Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual CultureSummer V2(55), 35–52.

Wulia, T. (2022). Making Worlds with Things: Aesthetic Cosmopolitanism, Performance, and Iconic Objects from the Border. In D. Coste, C. Kkona, & N. Pireddu (Eds.), Migrating Minds: Theories and Practices of Cultural Cosmopolitanism(1st ed.). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003144632

Related events

  • 5 December 2023 at 11:00 AEDT, RMIT Gallery: Exhibition will open to public.
  • 6 December 2023, 15:00-16:00 AEDT, RMIT Gallery: Telling Secrets.
    A lecture-performance followed by a conversation between artist Tintin Wulia and curator Andrew Tetzlaff that traces and negotiates borders, migration, mosquitoes, history, materiality, heredity and Wulia’s concept of ‘liminal death’. Audiences who aren’t able to join us in Melbourne for the talk are encouraged to send in questions via RMIT Gallery Instagram @rmitgalleries. The discussion will be recorded and available on RMIT Gallery website.
  • 7 December 2023, 17:00-19:30 AEDT, RMIT Gallery: Opening celebration.







Andrew Tetzlaff

Andrew Tetzlaff is the Senior Curator of RMIT Culture and produces exhibition programming at RMIT Gallery, RMIT Design Hub Gallery and Firstsite Gallery. He has worked in university art galleries since 2007, engaging with visiting artists, artists-in-residence, academics and students to produce and deliver local and international projects. Tetzlaff has lectured in studio art, art history and theory, and art enterprise courses, and he has served on the board of BLINDSIDE artist-run space (2008–17) and the Public Galleries Association of Victoria (2020–23). He holds a BA from Tufts University (2002), a BFA from SMFA (2002), an MFA and a PhD from RMIT (2006, 2023). His research interest is the application of material thinking and embodied aesthetics to the practices of curation, photography and art installation.


Tintin Wulia

Tintin Wulia is an artist and Senior Researcher at the HDK-Valand – Academy of Art and Design, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, UK. She explores the intricate power dynamics of societal and geopolitical borders as interfaces, through a multi-disciplinary approach that includes text, video, sound, painting, drawing, dance, installation, performance, and public intervention, tackling these subjects both pragmatically and conceptually. Since 2000 she has contributed to 200 international exhibitions and publications, including Istanbul Biennale (2005), Moscow Biennale (2011), Sharjah Biennale (2013), and most recently the 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennale, as well as a solo pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. Her text publication includes a chapter contribution to the award-winning edited volume Migrating Minds: Theories and Practices of Cultural Cosmopolitanism (New York: Routledge, 2022). Her works are part of prominent public collections worldwide, including the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum and He Xiangning Art Museum. Currently she is Principal Investigator of the Swedish Research Council-funded Protocols of Killings: 1965, Distance, and the Ethics of Future Warfare (2021-24) and the European Research Council-funded Things for Politics’ Sake: Aesthetic Objects and Social Change/THINGSTIGATE (2023-28).


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