Slack Spaces

Rory Hyde, Akwal Magek

Installation Exhibition Performance

What might happen if walls and doors no longer dictated our use of space? What do our homes become when they are the only space we have?

Based on research by architecture academic Rory Hyde, Slack Spaces explores the ways in which people "misuse" or reappropriate their homes for commerce, culture and community. An installation of research materials, images and texts highlights how people adapt often unforgiving suburban architecture to suit their shifting needs.

In response to Hyde’s research into home-based commerce and in celebration of her South Sudanese heritage, local artist Akwal Magek presents Maintenance and Care, an experimental installation and performance work dissecting the intimate relationship between hair and the home. Presenting video work and spoken word, and featuring sporadic live performance of hair braiding and crocheting across the weekend, Maintenance and Care illuminates the profound resonance of these practices for African Australians in the context of navigating a predominantly white, homogenised society. 

By probing these intersectional nuances, Magek sheds light on the ways in which hair and domestic spaces intertwine to shape and express personal and collective identities, emphasising the vital need for understanding, acceptance, and celebration of diversity within contemporary society.

Together, Slack Spaces and Maintenance and Care highlight how families and communities from diverse backgrounds creatively utilise Australian suburban homes—which are often built according to regimented design and social norms—to continue their own practices and rituals as a matter of cultural continuity and self-expression. 


Rory Hyde

Rory Hyde

Dr Rory Hyde is a designer, curator, educator and writer. His work is focused on new forms of design practice for the public good, and redefining the role of the architect today. Hyde is associate professor of architecture, curatorial design and practice at The University of Melbourne. From 2013 to 2020 he was the curator of contemporary architecture and urbanism at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and design advocate for the Mayor of London. His writing on architecture and the future of design practice has been featured in various newspapers and journals including The EconomistThe GuardianHarvard Design MagazineDomus and Icon. He is the author of Future Practice: Conversations from the Edge of Architecture (2012) and co-editor of Architects After Architecture: Alternative Pathways for Practice (2021).

Akwal Magek

Akwal Magek

Known as a vibrant storyteller, Akwal Magek is a multidiscplinary artist and arts facilitator from Melbourne’s west, primarily utilising poetry and spoken word to explore the themes of identity and self-love. Her work encourages audiences to re-evaluate the confines that shape our perspectives and to question prevailing paradigms of beauty and thought. As a facilitator, Magek is dedicated to supporting others to explore their own creative potential, particularly young people. In her world, authenticity reigns supreme, and she continually asks the question, "why?".