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BNE September/October 2016 |




ou could be forgiven for thinking the

latest exhibition at Museum of Brisbane

(MoB) is a mini Census – but it’s much

more fun than that. While the debate around

the Census was all about concealing identity,

the aim of MoB’s exhibition

100% Brisbane


more about peeling back the layers of identity

to provide a snapshot of the living personality of

the city.

The exhibition has taken an innovative

approach and people are the subjects, not just

spectators. The concept is based on the



theatre events devised by Berlin company

Rimini Protokoll that so far have been staged in

29 cities around the world but this is the first

time it has been adapted offstage for a museum

environment. The process began with statistics

that define the demographic profile of the city –

age, gender, place of birth, residential location,

household composition – and then went to the

people to tell the real-life story of who we are.

The search was unique. It began with Nicky

Walker, a customer service and information

officer at Brisbane Airport, who was asked to

choose the next candidate within 24 hours, then

they were asked to choose the next candidate,

and so on, until 100 people were chosen

who represented all the variations within the

categories. That included Maya Peres, a 23-year-

old international student from Mangalore, India

who was nominated by her roommate Alysha.

Peres has just completed a master’s degree in

Brisbane and has fallen in love with the city over

the two years she has lived here and she credits

the warmth of the people for that.

According to Peres, Brisbane is similar in size

and weather to Mangalore but it’s the people

that set it apart. “People are from all walks of

life here and everyone is accepted,” she says.

Peres says she has met people from many more

different cultures in Brisbane than she ever

would have at home. She works part-time at

weekend markets on a Turkish food stall and she

has connected so well with her boss that people

think they are mother and daughter, not because

they look alike but how they interact with each

other. Peres has since learned to cook Turkish

food and to speak some basic Turkish words,

and in any spare time she has she follows her

passion for Latin American dancing.

Another participant, businessman Chris

Morton, can trace his family tree back to

the 1870s when his ancestors ran the horse-

drawn buses in the city and he cites the youth

and diversity of the city today as a key to its

vibrance. Meanwhile, grandmother Becky

Thompson, at 62, shows that energy is not

confined to youth. Only recently retired,

Thompson belongs to a local gymnastics club –

beach aerobics and tai chi are next on her list of

things to do.

But the exhibition is more than a peek into

the lives of 100 people; it’s also part social

research project and each of the 100 participants

was asked 80 questions, not only about their

lives and their city but also about their values

and beliefs. The answers have been collated

into a video presentation where each person

shares something about themselves and their

views. Separately, 35 of those questions have

been compiled for an interactive survey that all

visitors to the exhibition can also answer – the

responses are tallied in real time and total results

updated on screen. Questions range from ‘what

do you love about where you live?’ (29 per cent

of the sample say the local community) and ‘do

you think we should change the Australian flag?’

(56 per cent say no) to more confronting issues

such as ‘have you ever broken the law?’ (64

per cent say yes) and ‘do you support marriage

equality?’ (77 per cent say yes).

At the end of the survey visitors also find out

who in the 100 they are most alike according to

their responses and that is a most intriguing part

of the process. Already some people have been

surprised by the results.

The exhibition will run for three years and

museum curators are keen to see how attitudes

might change over that time but how that

information might be used, if at all, is still to be


The exhibition, supported by Brisbane

Airport Corporation, is on now at Museum of

Brisbane, City Hall.

Exhibition designer Alison Ross will give

a guided tour of

100% Brisbane

on 25

September, 2pm. To book and for details see



A new exhibition builds a profile of the city and everyone is invited to take part