Four Australian artists you really should be following

They’re artists, activists, peacemakers, protestors and performers. They’re word whittlers – especially skilled in carving against the grain. Their art is hewn from music and poetry and their own cultural inheritance. And what excites me the most about them is that they’re re-mapping the borders that define what it is to look/sound/be an Australian artist today.

They’ve been getting some well-deserved attention in the mainstream media but if you haven’t heard of them yet, take some time to follow some of the links below. But let that just be a start!
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The writings that sowed the seed for this blog

THE TRIBE

Originally published here. February 1st 2016

Last Sunday I went to the theatre. It was a show that had caught my attention earlier in the week in my Facebook feed. Urban Theatre Projects was posting about it. The Belvoir was posting about it. It had popped up in several status updates of friends, too.

The name didn’t give much away. But the promo shots spoke volumes. At least they did to me. Now, I’m a keen consumer of the arts and culture, from screens to stages and concert halls to the streets; and I’m a self-defined ‘cultural omnivore’, so my palette thrives on the alternative and diverse, but when a man clearly of ‘Middle-Eastern appearance’ (actor Hazem Shammas) hits my feed accompanied by words like theatreBelvoirSurry Hills and Muslim-Australian, it tweaks my interest in a special kind of way. Read on and you’ll understand why. Continue reading

Superwog at Enmore Theatre

Things I loved about Superwog‘s show, ‘Fake It Til You Make It’ at Enmore Theatre last night:

  • The ‘hero-ing’ of the word ‘wog’ – not just the reclamation and reappropriation of it.
  • The audience was 99% wogs – where else do you see that at the theatre? This speaks volumes about representation. We’re drawn to characters that reflect or represent us and to stories that are relatable.
  • The way the stereotypes are stretched so far that they become absurd and (very often) ridiculously hilarious.

But I have a problem with Superwog. Continue reading

Songs from Northam Avenue

Qanun, oud and Vietnamese zither meet alternative/indie/rock in Bankstown. Does that tweak your curiosity? It did mine.

In a nutshell this album is the product of two artistic residencies undertaken in Bankstown by Toby Martin through Urban Theatre Projects (UTP). Read about the origins of the project here. Listen to the artists interviewed on ABC RN here. Buy the album here. It’s worth every cent and more.

In the radio interview (link above), Martin says that the album isn’t documentary, but to me it feels part documentary, part social and political commentary. Continue reading

Ethics of Identity

The ethicists take those hanging bits of paper with questions by the public and use them as stubs for articles or ideas for programs at The Ethics Centre. I wonder if they might pick mine.

I’d been expecting a topical discussion about identity politics but we only touched on that. Happily instead, we got a crash course in the philosophy of identity at Friday night’s sold out Ethics of Identity talk by Patrick Stokes. It was a very welcome opportunity to sit, listen and think. Lots of questions were posed:

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CAAP Longhouse #1 @ Carriageworks

Contemporary Asian Australian Performance (CAAP) hosted their first Longhouse event for the year at Carriageworks on Thursday April 20th, using as a starting point for discussion the brilliant article in Arts Hub recently by Tania Canas, Diversity is a White Word.

The panel was comprised of Tim Roseman, Artistic Director of Playwriting Australia (PWA); Lena Nahlous, Executive Director of Diversity Arts Australia (DARTS) and Kate Cherry, Director/CEO at NIDA; all chosen for their experience in working with artists identifying (or identified) as ethnically/linguistically/culturally diverse (CALD) and for their work in advocating for better representation of these artists in the arts and cultural industries.

I went along to hear Lena, especially, as I’ve been following her work through DARTS since it the organisation was re-imagined from it’s previous iteration as Kultour. It was also a really nice opportunity to catch up with friends in the crowd afterwards. With only about 90 mins at their disposal, it was too short a time for the panel to detail in any depth the work they are currently doing in this space but it was just enough time for the audience to capture the essence of their positions on how best to address the imbalance in representation and to hear some examples of their activities.

Here’s the summary: Continue reading