By Elissa Blake
MAY 17, 2013
The key to telling a good story is in the editing, says photographer and storyteller William Yang. Skip over the boring bits. Keep in the embarrassing parts. Speak up and bring photos.
‘I just love old photos,’ Yang says. ‘Photos really help with a good story. But to make a story good, you must edit. If a story gets too long, it becomes wearisome.’
Yang has been telling stories over projected images for 25 years, transforming the humble slide show into gentle but profoundly moving works of performance art. Now he is passing on his storytelling experience to six newcomers in Stories Then & Now, an evening of Asian Australian stories.
Yang and his co-director Annette Shun Wah have invited six Asian Australians - all non-actors - to stand up and tell a story from their lives in just six minutes. Each uses their own family and personal photographs to tell a story of their parents, followed by a story about themselves.
There are stories of sperm donors, Saigon pop music, forced marriages, Shanghai burlesque and suburban life in Australia. They also delve into conflict zones in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Korea and Sri Lanka. All of the images are personal and non-professional and were never intended for this kind of public display.
Academic Ien Ang will tell of her Chinese-heritage parents living in Indonesia when it was still a Dutch colony. The sweep of her story includes the ethnic tensions in the region before and after the war, her family’s migration to Holland, her embrace of counterculture in the 1960s, writing a successful book about the American soap opera Dallas, and, eventually, emigrating to Australia.
‘I’ve always found it difficult to tell my story because it’s an unusual one,’ says Ang, now professor of cultural studies at the University of Western Sydney. ‘Australians don’t ask you about your story very much. That’s my experience.
‘I’m not the kind of person who at a dinner party starts telling everyone about myself but in a situation like this you are given licence to tell your story and it’s an enormous privilege. I hope it will be liberating for me in some way.’
Yang says it has been hard for the storytellers to open up. Sifting through their photos, he has been helping assemble their stories while steering them away from choosing flattering images or easy anecdotes.
‘We make them reveal themselves. It’s hard to make yourself vulnerable, which is the essence of storytelling, exposing how you feel in difficult times. That’s what the audience latches on to,’ Yang says.
‘Some of the performers have lots of photos and some have not very many. They are all so different. Some have performance skills and some don’t. But people have told me they love to see someone who is not a polished actor. It’s very raw and attractive to an audience to see someone struggle to tell their story.’
Stories Then & Now has grown out of four highly successful seasons of Stories East & West produced by Performance 4a. This show has six new performers including writer Sheila Pham, dancer Jenevieve Chang, civil celebrant Willa Zheng, filmmaker Michael C.S. Park, and social worker and food writer Paul van Reyk.
‘I’m really enjoying the opportunity to put Asian stories on stage,’ Ang says. ‘I hope audiences will get the idea that Asia is very broad, and our stories are very diverse. The mainstream idea of an ‘Australian story’ is taken for granted … but these are Australian stories as well.’
Stories Then & Now plays at Carriageworks, May 22-25. It is an umbrella event of the Sydney Writer’s Festival 2013.
Image: Once upon a time: William Yang has encouraged Ien Ang and other Asian Australians to tell their life stories. Photo: James Brickwood
MAY 14, 2013
Welcome to Cornerstone Bar and Food, the Inner West’s new favourite watering hole. And when we say favourite - we really mean it; this love may even eclipse the feelings we have for you, Urbanites. See, this is serious…
This place blew us away with their stunning decor and ‘give me more now’ food. This brand new offering from the geniuses behind Fresh Catering has got ‘my local’ written all over it. For those not in the know, Fresh is one of Sydney’s leading catering companies. They’ve done it all: from the 2012 and 2013 seasons of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.
With a mix of gritty industrial aesthetics and soft 1920s touches designed by Humphrey & Edwards (aka: the team we want to redesign our office space), Cornerstone Bar and Food promises to breathe new life into Eveleigh and its new home atCarriageworks.
We’re particularly taken with the gigantic hanging planters that hold completely alive plants (we asked to be sure). Resist the urge to pull a botanical Dita von Teese in amongst the ferns. Try very hard. To distract yourself, you may have to turn to focus on the menu…
Chef Leigh Nelson has created a diverse selection of dishes for all day dining, casual lunch, and dinner menus, so whatever time of day you stop by - there’ll always be the perfect option for you. You’ll want to keep an eye out for the blackboard specials that are set to change frequently, as well as the Share Plates - perfect for those after work drinks.
For those Urbanites who are musically-minded, you’ll love the unexpected mix of tunes at Cornerstone Bar and Food. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for weekly food and drink specials and quirky promotions. Or, y’know - not being a stranger is also a great way to keep abreast of what’s what. We know we are definitely going to become very good friends with this new venue.
When: Monday - Wednesday, 10:00am - 5:00pm
Thursday - Saturday, 10:00am - late
Sunday, 10:00am - 5:00pm
Where: Carriageworks: 245 Wilson St, Eveleigh
By Rashell Habib
MAY 13, 2013
The high standard of performances at Carriageworks will now be mirrored with the same standards of food at Cornerstone Bar and Food.
The new addition to the creative Carriageworks family is looking to not only service pre-performance patrons but to become a destination for the 'creative, edgy and educated' locals.
The people behind the new bar is Fresh Catering, the same company behind the Museum of Contemporary Art Cafe and the Vaucluse House Tearooms.
Fresh Catering’s managing director Peter McCloskey chose Carriageworks after he visited the venue and was blown away by the ‘extraordinary space’.
‘What we do is look at the market space and see what is missing, what the demographic is and what they require,’ he said.
He said the first need they saw was for affordable and fresh food along with a bar environment rather than fine dining.
‘We wanted food that people are comfortable with and know, we want the food to be relatable, where people know most of the dishes,’ he said.
Executive chef Mark Adler, who has worked in restaurants across the globe, has put together a menu of comfortable food (ham and cheese toastie, $9), share plates (salt cod croquettes and garlic aioli $12) and multicultural flavours (king fish carpaccio $16).
Cornerstone Bar and Food, Carriageworks, 245 Wilson St, Eveleigh
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By Alexandra E. Petri
MAY 13, 2013
For affordable food and locally crafted beer and coffee in an authentically artistic and unique atmosphere, then head over to the Cornerstone Bar & Food at Redfern’s Carriageworks.
Opened by Fresh Catering, the restaurant is an exciting new venture for the company, said Peter Mccloskey, managing director, Fresh Catering.
'Carriageworks is a unique and popular place for Sydney’s arts and dining patrons,' McCloskey said. 'The launch of Cornerstone Bar and Food will connect Sydney’s urban bar culture and its contemporary arts.'
The venue’s setting is a raw and an original industrial atmosphere coupled with new-age elements like the hanging gardens that are suspended in the centre of the restaurant from 10 ton gantry cranes.
The dining and bar areas are accented with a variety of recycled timber and wood furnishings as well as leather lounges to help create that cool, urban feel.
Cornerstone’s day time menu features the usual players like burgers, pies, soups and sambos.
Come nightfall, the menu features share plates and dishes like waygu beef and gruyere sliders; salt cod croquettes and garlic aioli; and pea and fontina arancini.
The restaurant will also offer a variety of daily specials, like its pumpkin, pea and goat’s cheese risotto; slow roast pork neck, wet polenta and pecorino; and steak with kohlrabi remoulade and garlic aioli.
Cornerstone’s extensive beverage offerings include a wine list of both Australian and international wines, specially-made cocktails and shared punch jugs. Also on offer are local coffees and beers, such as Little Marionette Coffee and Young Henrys Beer.
Chef Leigh Nelson leads the team in the kitchen at Cornerstone after more than 15 years leading catering companies and restaurants across Sydney.
The restaurant seats up to 200 diners in both its indoor and outdoors spaces, and it offers free games of ping pong and pool.
Cornerstone’s Bar is open every day from 10 a.m., and its lunch menu starts at noon.
Owner: Fresh Catering
Chef: Leigh Nelson
Check it Out:
Hours: Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner, 12 p.m. til 10 p.m. Bar hours from 10 a.m.
245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh, NSW
P: 02 8571 9004
Click here for Cornerstone Bar & Food’s website
By Anna Christie
MAY 6, 2013
Eveleigh: Six thousand people per day attended Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (MBFW) in April, staged for the first time in its new home at Carriageworks. A representative of the organisers told the SSH: 'The relocation of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia to Carriageworks has breathed a new life and energy into the event.'
MBFW is an industry event to showcase Australian fashion designers and market their designs all around the world, to traditional retailers, but also many online stores.
Asked whether the move from its previous home, the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay, had been successful, organisers IMG Fashion said they are 'thrilled with the change of venue, and have received overwhelming positive response to the move from designers and their guests, the media, VIP and fashion industry figureheads alike'.
Lisa Havilah of Carriageworks, said: 'It’s the best MBFW so far … the atmosphere was right.' Revealing that the move to Carriageworks is for an initial three years, Ms Havilah added: 'It’s a very important Sydney event and we are looking to a long-term partnership with MBFW.'
For one week in April, there was a noticeable influx of high-heeled, expensive-handbagged females and arty male fashionistas stalking the streets of Newtown, Darlington and Redfern. Ms Havilah said: 'Coffee shops and restaurants benefited from the fashion visitors.'
The organisers worked with Mercedes-Benz and local taxi providers to ensure additional services were available in the area. A shuttle bus was provided to transport guests between onsite and offsite venues, and a Mercedes-Benz car program was also in place to assist key media and guests with their travel arrangements throughout the week.
Many participants observed that it is easier and faster to make your way to Carriageworks than it was to get down George Street to the Overseas Passenger Terminal at peak hour.
Although it is an industry event, MBFW organisers said they would like to engage more with local fashionistas in 2014 and are keen to engage with fashion lovers, both in Australia and overseas, via various social media initiatives, satellite events and live sites as well as parties and social activities during and in the lead-up to the events.
According to Global Production Director Jarrad Clark, the organisers will work with the City of Sydney to create greater opportunities for businesses within the precinct to capitalise on the additional visitors.
However, MBFW’s success brought an unexpected challenge. With so many journalists, photographers and a contingent of fashion bloggers in town, wireless communications placed great pressure on the network, with some frustrating slowdowns.
'The amount of traffic in both uploads and downloads exceeded our wildest expectations and certainly was a significant increase on past seasons. A great problem to have had but one we won’t be repeating,' Mr Clark said.
By John Saxby
APRIL 19, 2013
The NSW government is set to overhaul its $57 million annual Arts Funding Program and will announce plans on Friday for the state's first arts and cultural policy.
Arts Minister George Souris has appointed a five-member reference group to advise on the new cultural policy, 'which will in turn impact on how we spend the AFP (Arts Funding Program) allocation', an Arts NSW spokesman said.
The Herald understands a draft policy document has been distributed among key arts stakeholders.
State cultural institutions the Art Gallery of NSW, Australian Museum, Powerhouse Museum, State Library of NSW and Sydney Opera House are being consulted during the development of the draft discussion paper, the spokesman said.
Mr Souris said: 'The arts and cultural policy will be developed alongside a review of the Arts Funding Program to ensure that we have an effective, sustainable funding model to support artists and cultural organisations across the state.'
The minister said the policy would outline a 10-year vision for the arts sector.
Changes to the Arts Funding Program would take effect in 2015. Spending in 2012-13 was $57 million, down $1.2 million on the previous year.
Plans for a state cultural policy follow on the heels of Creative Australia, the federal government's $235 million policy released last month and the City of Sydney's cultural policy, Creative City, which is now open for public consultation.
The spokesman said the NSW policy will complement the work being done by the federal government and City of Sydney. The final policy will be released late this year.
The discussion paper is expected to be released next month. The reference group has been asked to guide development of the policy under terms of reference that will also be released on Friday.
The reference group is made up of Sydney Film Festival chairman Chris Freeland, University of Western Sydney academic Deborah Stevenson, Wagga Wagga- based arts administrator Scott Howie, Carriageworks chief executive Lisa Havilah and artist and Art Gallery of NSW trustee Ben Quilty.
Mr Freeland said the government's announcement reflected the importance of the arts sector, which contributes about $4.5 billion to the state's economy. Ms Havilah described the time frame for the new policy as ambitious ''but reasonable''.
'The announcement is good timing,' she said, 'as it can reflect what's happening nationally and on a local government level. For the first time ever all three tiers of government will have an arts policy in place.'
Ms Havilah said one of the challenges that was facing arts institutions was the need to become more entrepreneurial, citing Carriageworks' recent partnership with IMG to stage Fashion Week at the venue as a successful example.
'Those resources are then diverted back to the cultural program,' she said.
Carriageworks receives 30 per cent of its funding from the state government. Ms Havilah expected there would be a greater requirement for all arts and cultural institutions to become more entrepreneurial. ''That's a strong message everywhere,'' she said.
Rachel Healy, City of Sydney's executive manager, culture, welcomed the state government announcement.
'These are really important moments for government, the cultural sector and community to take a moment and see if policies and frameworks are going to take us where we want to go,' she said.
Cultural policies: three of a kind
The federal government's $235 million funding package announced in March includes an extra $75.3 million over five years for the Australia Council. Arts Minister Tony Burke reportedly wants key reforms to take effect from July 1. Legislation in the policy is currently before a Senate committee.
The state government announces its first cultural policy, a decade-long strategy for the NSW arts sector, including a review of the $57 million arts funding program to take effect from 2015. The discussion paper will be released in a month. The final policy is to be released later this year.
The City of Sydney released its cultural policy discussion paper early this month. A consultation period is now open until May 31. A draft document policy is expected in September with a final policy released by Christmas.
APRIL 26, 2013
This photo was recorded as being taken on the 1st January, 1942 in the Carriageworks Railway yards, Eveleigh.
In addition to the Chullora factory, the New South Wales units for building Beauforts include part of the Eveleigh workshops and an assembly building at Mascot. Following the recommendation of the British. Aircraft Mission, which visited Australia shortly before the war began, it was decided to co-opt the various State railway workshops to produce the Beaufort, which is a twin-engined torpedo reconnaissance bomber.
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By Tim Douglas
APRIL 20, 2013
'Man, if you write that I'm a high priest, I will come down there and curse you." Lemi Ponifasio, thankfully, is joking; in fact, the Samoan choreographer is laughing so vigorously down the phone from Auckland, he is wheezing to the point of hyperventilation.
'There are already enough priests in Samoa,' the artistic director of New Zealand-based dance company MAU says between guffaws. 'It certainly doesn't need another one.'
Ponifasio in fact is a Samoan high chief, and it's not the first time his birthright has been innocently - and evidently hilariously - confused by a slip of the tongue. 'I suffer from it a lot in Europe,' he says. 'They don't really understand the word chief over there. People often think I'm some kind of shaman.'
Ponifasio's genealogical title, he explains, is less about entitlement and more about cultural responsibility. 'Simply, for me, the [title] of high chief means I must bring forth the work of the ancestors in my everyday life. This is why I do what I do; why I make what I make.'
He may be no shaman, but the Samoan-born New Zealander's dance works have been acclaimed by critics as nothing short of revelatory; spiritual, even. The self-taught choreographer's productions, starring Polynesian dancers, have been staged to critical acclaim across the world, none more so than Birds with Skymirrors, Ponifasio's movement-based exploration of climate change conceived on the tiny, low-lying island republic of Kiribati. Next month, three years after that work wowed audiences at its premiere at the Theater der Welt festival in Germany, Birds will wing its way to Australia.
'I don't really know why it's taken so long to bring it to Australia,' Ponifasio says of the work, which will be staged at Carriageworks, in Sydney's Redfern. 'It's unusual for me to go there, actually. You know, maybe it's too close to home.'
It's an interesting choice of words, given the same phrase - close to home - is precisely the philosophy behind Birds.
Ponifasio travelled to Tarawa, an atoll in Kiribati straddling the equator in the central Pacific, in 2009. Perched little more than 1m above sea level, Kiribati is among the nations most vulnerable to the ravages of climate change. Indeed, the small nation is something of an international symbol for the global warming lobby and has been a particularly active participant in UN-led efforts relating to rising sea levels.
While in the island republic, Ponifasio witnessed a flock of native birds flying overhead, carrying in their beaks strands of old videotape picked up from a nearby rubbish tip. The strips, toxic to the birds, reflected the sky above, he says.
'That image was both a vision of beauty and the spirit of death,' Ponifasio adds. 'I thought about many things ... I thought about the last dance on earth.'
He says his visit had a profound effect on him. 'Kiribati is a tiny place and it's actually quite scary; you stand there and think: if there's a tsunami, this whole place will just disappear, gone forever,' he says.
'Climate change is already affecting places like Kiribati and Tuvalu, so I thought this work might respond the lives of both my performers and the people who live there.'
Since its premiere in 2010, the work has been held up as a something of a beacon for the green arts industry. But on this charge, Ponifasio is circumspect.
'I'm not exactly a Greenpeace kind of evangelist,' he says, laughing again. "Many people try to make this work into an environmental anti-something piece. But my thinking is always about how we can reconnect ourselves to the present and recognise our relationship with things. Really, that's what I'm trying to do. To hug a tree or to buy organic is a childish way of dealing with environmental issues. There has to be something else. It starts in the theatre.'
Ponifasio, however, refers to his work not as theatre or dance but as karanga, 'a genealogical prayer, a ceremony, a poetic space" in which the audience, by virtue of its presence, participates.
'I try to activate the space,' he says. 'To create a sort of cosmological space where we can somehow realise that we are part of the whole process of earth.'
For all Ponifasio's spiritual and cultural earnestness, however, his work focuses on more than wind, water, earth and sky.
His creations ('they are not dance, not theatre: those are Western ideas') eschew Pacific cliches and Western aesthetic.
His oeuvre - radical, political - includes Le Savali, about the wielding of power by governments; Paradise, banned by the French government in Tahiti; and the controversial Tempest, created in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US.
'I knew from an early age I was never a good follower of people,' he says. 'I live in my own little universe.'
Ponifasio went to school in NZ, where he played rugby alongside future All Black Mark Shaw ('I like those tough guys') before studying philosophy at university. He was enlightened, but in a different way from his fellow students.
'At philosophy school I realised those ideas I was learning about were someone else's ideas of reality. Not mine,' he says.
'Those ideas weren't happening in my life, so they were useless. Life, I have always realised, is all a struggle of perspective. I thought: what is my perspective?'
So he left university and 'taught myself to be a theatre-maker'. In 1995 he founded MAU, a Polynesian word meaning "what is my perspective?" He has gone on to stage a host of works across the world focusing on the people and regions of the Pacific, including Requiem, Paradise and Tempest.
Ponifasio notoriously cast Maori activist Tame Iti - renowned for shooting at New Zealand's flag in 2005 at a traditional Maori greeting ceremony - in Tempest, which premiered in 2007. On the company's return from the production's Vienna premiere, the heavily tattooed activist, who appeared in the production's lead role, was arrested under the country's anti-terrorism laws.
Ponifasio eventually convinced the courts to allow the detained Iti to travel on the production's 2008 tour.
Despite the 'strangeness' of that situation, Ponifasio doesn't regret his casting choice.
'When I saw Tame shooting the NZ flag, I thought, 'I'm going to ask this guy (to perform): he's fighting for something.' I invited him to come on stage and tell the world who he is,' he says.
'I think, really, that's the hardest thing to do: to stand up and tell the world who you are. It's the most revolutionary thing you can do.
'I'm just doing my job. It's important we create art for those who love it and for those who don't love it.'
Ponifasio refuses to be pigeonholed in terms of Western ideals of art.
'I am not so interested in dance. It's not a Samoan word. How I think about dance is a different thing,' he says.
'For me, movement is the beginning of the dance, not the dance itself. It's more about one's consciousness - what you are activating when you dance.
'If people are just pretending on stage - like acting - then I don't know what that is. For me, performance is about how to take you towards that cosmological moment in the performance - the moment which is the only one true moment.'
It's a wonder Ponifasio has any moments left in his day. MAU's dance card is burgeoning with international dates.
Having just returned from Canada, the choreographer is creating a new work in Auckland and will fly to Paris before heading to Australia for the show's four-day run in Sydney.
'It's what we do,' he says. 'It's our work. And we are very much looking forward to coming to Sydney. We're forever flying from here to there. We're very lucky.'
'High priest!' he says, chuckling to himself mischievously.
'You know what, come to the show early and I'll give you a special rite of passage. Just to make sure you fall asleep during the performance. It's much better that way.'
Birds with Skymirrors is at Carriageworks, Sydney, May 1-4.
APRIL 15, 2013
Keith Gallasch interviews Lemi Ponifasio
APRIL 15, 2013
At a MAU performance you just have to let yourself be, opening yourself up to an osmosis of strange sounds and movements seeping into your very being. Artistic Director of the Auckland-based company, Samoan Lemi Ponifasio believes that our lives are dominated by doing and acting, blinding us to 'the invisible dimensions of our lives' - our connection with the earth, our being at one with it.
I spoke with the witty and erudite Ponifasio by phone about his internationally acclaimed Birds with Skymirrors, part of Carriageworks’ 2013 program, first asking him if each of his works is initially triggered by an image. I was thinking of the press releases and interviews that reveal that it was the sight of a frigate bird trailing shining videotape (the skymirror of the title) from its beak that initiated the making of the work. 'Well,' he quips, 'it wasn’t a Saul of Damascus moment, but it gave me an idea.'
What kind of idea?
Fantastic things. All kinds of terrible things. It was very funny because I thought, at first, what a beautiful sight, and then became quite afraid, because I suddenly felt alone and wondering what was happening. [The birds use the tapes for their nests; but this kind of pollution kills massive numbers of birds and animals across the Pacific. Eds] Then you start to think about everything in life from ancestors to all kinds of civilisations. I was thinking about Botticelli, the Venus picture; I felt this image of innocence had turned into a whore. I thought about the Persian poem, The Conference of the Birds. Your mind wanders everywhere. It was a moment you feel the world is so big—that kind of connection. I’m not trying to tell anybody not to pollute the water. It’s simply about our connection, the genealogy that we share with birds. We are part of the [lives] of birds. That is [the kind of connection] I try to make with my work.
I’ve read that you’re very keen for the audience to enter a contemplative state; you don’t use narrative because you don’t want to impose stories on people.
The theatre has become too human and is about people’s storytelling and people expressing people. I think the theatre is more than that. It’s a cosmological experience. I’m sure the origin of theatre was our feeling this intense bond with existence so that we get up and sing or perform. So the theatre I try to make is about how to return you to or take you to a dimension that is not about human time but more about cosmological time—how to get you away from the phenomenal world, the world of everyday into the noumenal, which is a much bigger world.
In essence, to stop thinking just about oneself? You said in one interview that you thought that Western theatre was simply narcissistic.
No! (LAUGHS). But I do think the theatre is not for mirroring life; it’s to shatter the mirror that we’ve created for ourselves. The mirror of life is really what we construct in our heads. That’s our ego. And I think the invitation of the theatre is an invitation to be. And that’s a really hard thing for the human being, but it’s part of our title as ‘human beings.’
There are practices and concepts in your work that appear to come directly from your own culture. How do these figure in your thinking?
Well, it might sound strange, but I don’t think I come from a culture. I think my arrival on the Earth was on the island of Samoa. I just arrived there and I don’t think so much about culture and cultural identity.
But you certainly draw on it.
It’s what I know.
It’s a part of you?
It’s pure form, but I know it along with knowing what’s happening in New York or Algeria or Iraq. So it’s a consciousness. It’s not something particular to a culture, I don’t think.
So the work is not going to say to an audience, do something about climate change, but I assume it’s part of the work’s ‘subconscious.’ The people who work with you, your community, some of them would come from islands, I suppose, that are in danger of disappearing under the ocean in years to come.
Well, I think there is a bigger thinking, something more than just cleaning up the rubbish or hugging trees or buying organic. I think this is a very childish way of dealing with climate change. We need to think in terms of our relationship with the world. The closer we feel the connection, the more we appreciate that we are just part of the process of nature, we can somehow understand the intense link that we have with nature. For example, a dog is a dog but if you take a dog as your puppy, then you have a strong sense of relationship. I think that is what I’m trying to do—to bring you to the present, to just be present and by being present you can become more strongly aware of this.
Like the notion of ‘just being’ rather than doing and acting?
Well, it’s a consciousness. I could take you to an English garden that’s full of roses and you can look at it and admire it; or I could take you to a Zen garden where there is nothing but stones and a rock. You’re standing there and you feel differently. You attend to your existence—why am I here? So, it’s the power to bring forth an experience of presence and being conscious of one’s being.
Elsewhere you’ve described Birds with Skymirrors as being like 'the last dance on Earth,' which sounds very apocalyptic, and ritualistic. A review in New Zealand described your work as 'an ancient futuristic ritual.' This idea of ceremony seems to be important to you.
I say to the people I work with, 'If this is the last dance or the last song, what are you going to sing about?' Are you going to sing about your iPad or your iPhone? No. We are going to sing about something very important to our lives. So this dimension of one’s life is why I talk about the last dance. I think the audience who come to the performance must not come merrily like they’re going on a dinner date. It’s like a pilgrimage, going to the theatre. There is something that you come to engage with; there’s something that you bring; there’s something that you want to be with.
There’s a difference between ceremony and ritual. I’m not interested in ritual. People always say ‘ritual,’ but a ceremony is when we come to engage, because there is a reason why we gather, an important step in one’s life, whether it’s a funeral or a birth. In ceremony we elevate ourselves into another sort of sense of ourselves. And I think the point of the theatre is to remind the soul of its higher self, a higher space.
My performers are not necessarily trying to express anything. They are there to serve the ceremony, to serve the space. Their bodies are ceremonial bodies—that’s how I prepare them. Of course, they have to do what they need to do well, but their presence, their activation of the space, it’s the whole point of going to the theatre, performing for it.
You don’t talk a lot about dance or art or artists, but I was astonished by the variety of gesture and movement in your work, the sense of a melding of physical movement and dance from across the region.
I work with people who don’t have Western training. They are all from communities. They know the language of ceremony, the movement of ceremony, the presence of ceremony. This is why I like working with them—because of the amazing knowledge you don’t need to teach anybody. You can’t learn that from art school.
In the performance there is tremendous individual sensuality and sinuousness, extreme body states and a great sense of synchronicity, of meticulous movement together. These people must spend a lot of time with you to achieve that sense of unanimity.
It’s a very strange thing to say, but we don’t practice that much. We do other kinds of work. We think it’s much more important than going to the dance.
What other kind of work is that?
Being part of the community. I make them go and do what they do normally. That gives you the sense of a different way of being. I want the dancers to be the stage, not dancing on the stage. It’s a different quality. I think it’s a proposal of the theatre. We need to move away from a theatre that is too much about the human and loses its power because it’s just humans talking to humans, like soap opera, instead of humans talking to the divine.
After seeing MAU’s The Tempest in the 2010 Sydney Festival I wrote, 'Walter Benjamin’s angel of history wanders the stage screaming; a group of monks glide about in fast, small steps and with beautifully complex gesturing; a man very convincingly becomes a dog; a Maori elder addresses us, first revealing his tattoos, later dressed in a suit; and a lone man appears to bend and collapse beneath the weight of the world until a moment of release late in the work. For all its mysteries, Mau is an engrossing work suggestive of post-colonial tensions, environmental exploitation and a Pacific Rim cultural sharing' (RT95, p14). The Tempest was an experience as rewarding as it was demanding, and difficult to put into words—you just had to be there, and just be. As you will, at Birds with Skymirrors.
MAU, Birds with Skymirrors, Carriageworks, Sydney, May 1-4; www.carriageworks.com.au; co-production Théâtre de la Ville (Paris), Theater der Welt 2010 RUHR, spielzeit’europa Berliner Festspiele, Wiener Festwochen, KVS Brussels, Holland Festival, Mercat de les Flors Barcelona, DeSingel Antwerp, New Zealand International Arts Festival.
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Book tickets to Birds with Skymirrors
By Sarah Adams
APRIL 19, 2013
Not to be left behind federal and local politics, the state of NSW is gearing up to announce a landmark arts cultural policy all its own.
The NSW State Government revealed today that it will revamp its $57 million Arts Funding Program and announce a 10 year agenda for the state’s arts and culture.
Five key arts industry leaders have been selected to help drive the development of the new policy.
Much like its Federal counterpart Creative Australia, it is hoped that the state level policy will figure out ways to maintain a competitive arts and culture sector.
It is also keeping in line with City of Sydney’s recent announcement of its Creative Cultural Policy, meaning that NSW is the frontrunner in enacting policies for the arts on local, state and federal level.
With the creative industries undertaking an enormous growth spurt, growing at 3.9% faster than the broader economy in 2008-09, politicians need to take stock of the ways that funding is allocated.
The reference group compiled to help guide the policy is comprised of Lisa Havilah, CEO, Carriageworks; Christ Freeland, Chairman Sydney Film Festival; Professor Deborah Stevenson, University of Western Sydney; Scott Howie from Eastern Riverina Arts; and Archibald Prize and AGNSW Trustee Ben Quilty.
‘I am eagerly awaiting the contribution of the reference group, and the feedback provided by the entire sector. This process is a first for the Arts in NSW, and will address a wide range of issues within the Arts portfolio,’ Minister for the Arts George Souris told us.
In NSW, the arts and culture sector contributes approximately $4.5 billion into the State’s economy so the chance for the state to have its first cultural policy will no doubt be exciting news for many who make their living from the sector.
The reference group will cultivate the policy via a discussion paper which will be released to the public in May and NSW’s cultural institutions will, alongside with the group, provide specialist advice on the draft policy.
‘I think it’s really just providing advice to government around future directions and, like all good policy does, ensuring that resources are going to the right places and that there’s a level of ambition for arts and culture for the next 10 years,’ says group member Lisa Havilah. ‘I think it’s great that for the first time NSW will have an arts and cultural policy that will really give a framework for development.’
The policy is one of the elements of the Government’s NSW 2021 plan, which the government hopes will complement development of a Creative Industries Industry Action Plan this year.
In the same way that the Federal Government announced a review of the Australia Council, the State Government will look to overhaul its Arts Funding Program. This review will not affect the 2014 program and organisations that are concerned about continuing annual funding will be contacted by individually.
‘I think this is a really exciting time, with the release of the national cultural policy and to think that now NSW is developing their first cultural policy... that’s a fantastic thing to actually be invited to be part of that process,’ says Scott Howie from Eastern Riverina Arts, who will provide a regional voice to the group.
‘I think that whatever the policy is it always works when you have three levels of government trying to work in relationship with each other, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you see some other states take this up.’
Information on the development of the Arts and Cultural Policy and the review of the Arts Funding Program along with terms of reference for both projects is available from www.arts.nsw.gov.au
March 20, 2013
One of the latest announcements of ambitious artist projects for the forthcoming VIVID Festival/ISEA2013 will be the installation of Ryoji Ikeda’s Test Pattern [No. 5], a massive projection of flickering test pattern-like lines at Carriageworks.
Ikeda’s audio visual installations, and his music, is noted for its radical minimalist aesthetic and the Carriageworks project promises a large-scale immersive experience in manner many promise but fe pull off. Reminiscent of Sentou Robotto Shija, Ryoji’s work will no doubt demand a few safety notices at the entrance.
Carriageworks, ISEA2013 and Vivid Sydney will present the Australian premiere of a major work by acclaimed Japanese electronic composer and audio-visual artist Ryoji Ikeda, known for creating spectacular sound and visual environments. The work will feature as a key work in Vivid Sydney 2013.
Ikeda’s latest large-scale installation, test pattern [No5], will be premiered at Carriageworks, from 8 June until 1 July 2013, free. test pattern [No5] is an audio-visual installation that converts data (text, sounds, photos and movies) into barcode and binary patterns of 0s and 1s.
The work creates an immersive experience of flickering black and white imagery and sound that pushes the threshold of human perception.
test pattern [No5] is comprised of five projectors that illuminate a floor space some 28 metres long and eight metres wide. At Carriageworks visitors will be invited to enter into this immersive environment and be submerged in an extreme installation of projected and synchronized data and sound.
In 2011 Ikeda presented a major exhibition the transfinite of related work at The Park Avenue Armory, New York which was described by The New York Times as a ‘sublime spectacle’ and New York Magazine described Ikeda’s work as ‘an extreme and elaborate visual and sonic environment not to be missed.’
In addition to test pattern [No5], Carriageworks and ISEA2013 will present a one-night only, free concert by Ikeda on Friday 7 June 2013, at 8pm. Hosted at Carriageworks and entitled datamatics [ver.2.0] this is an updated version of Ikeda’s acclaimed audio-visual concert which was first performed in San Jose in 2006.
Born in Japan, Ikeda lives and works in Paris, where he develops live performances and installations. Ikeda has performed and exhibited worldwide, to widespread critical acclaim, to audiences at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Barbican Centre, London, Grec Festival, Barcelona and the Singapore Art Museum, Singapore.
Ikeda uses scale, light, shade, volume, shadow, electronic sounds, and rhythm to flood the senses. In choreographing vast amounts of digital information, the artist conjures up a transformative environment in which visitors confront data on a scale that defies comprehension, experiencing the infinite.
Are you an independent Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander dance artist based in NSW? Are you keen to develop and sustain new career pathways, work with leading Indigenous artists, build your professional skills and networks, and share creative ideas? Then Birrang is a program of opportunities that is not to be missed.
Focused on expanding indigenous dance horizons in NSW, Birrang is a new professional dance development initiative supported by Arts NSW, coordinated by Ausdance NSW, Regional Arts NSW and Bangarra Dance Theatre in partnership with NAISDA Dance College, Carriageworks and the Australian Film, Television & Radio School.
Commencing in 2013, Birrang is dedicated to building capacity within the NSW Indigenous independent dance sector and providing professional creative development opportunities for NSW Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander dance artists. In this first year of the initiative, the Birrang program includes;
Creative Lab 29 April – 3 May @ Carriageworks, Redfern (applications now open)
Creative Business Course 22 – 24 May @ AFTRS, Moore Park (applications now open)
Dance Residency 23 September – 5 October @ NAISDA, Kariong (applications open in July)
Market Development and Enterprise Workshop November (applications open in October)
Artists are encouraged to apply for all activities.
Please note - to be eligible for the Dance Residency, applicants must have completed either the Creative Lab and/or Creative Business Course.
For More information and How to apply:
If you are based in Sydney, contact Ausdance NSW - if you are based in a regional or remote area contact Regional Arts NSW:
Ausdance NSW email@example.com 02 9256 4800
Regional Arts NSW Bradley@regionalartsnsw.com.au 02 9270 2507
Application forms are available to download HERE
March 11, 2013
Over the next three years I have tasked myself with building not an artwork, or a body of work, but a world.
This world will be presented through a series of artworks, straddled across a variety of stages and screens. Each artwork – whether it be a piece of theatre, film, music, live art or interactive art, made for mobiles and tablets – will stand on its own as a solitary artistic experience. Audiences will be able to experience one work, have an (ideally) satisfactory experience, and walk away.
But for those who are curious, each artwork will also be intricately woven into a series of other works, inviting the individual audience member to immerse themselves into the world, the grand narrative, that ties them all together.
These days, world building has a buzz term: “transmedia”. A great current example is the HBO TV series True Blood. Its characters have Twitter accounts and blogs from which they delve much deeper into the True Blood world and their personal lives than the TV series alone can achieve.
The band Arcade Fire are another interesting example. They collaborated with contemporary artist Chris Milk to release a music video last year that changed its look depending on where you lived: using Google Maps, the music video would become centered on your own suburb, eventually your own house. The song in this music video came from an album called The Suburbs, which was a concept album built around the stories of young middle-class American suburban youth. Spike Jonze directed a film around another one of their songs on this album, for online release only. Called “Scenes from the Suburbs, the film is a world in itself, as complete as the album. Although the connections are far more vague than in True Blood, ultimately the audience experience across these artworks is still cohesive and highly immersive – transporting you into another world.
Then there is Secret Cinema, an organisation that creates large-scale, immersive live art experiences that culminate in a film screening. In a screening of Shawshank Redemption, for example, they put people through jail time, psychological experiments and other immersive experiences for over an hour, before screening the film at the end of the immersive journey. Their last event had 25,000 people, and their most recent artistic concepts hold interesting similarities to the latest thinking in contemporary, live art.
Of course, transmedia is not a contemporary concept. Religion is probably its most well known example: all of the world’s religions use multiple experiences, media, narratives and platforms to form cohesive, grand narratives that permeate their audience’s lives. And this social, cultural level of transmedia production is also where I become interested in the approach.
The aesthetic and spiritual systems of traditional cultures offer some innovative thinking around the “transmedia” approach. In my own upbringing as a Hindu Sri Lankan – Australian, with a mother educated in Indian classical dance, I have seen how art, social relationships, storytelling and landscapes are heavily intertwined. For example: a particular beat may be modelled on the pulse of ocean waves or the leap of a deer – carrying with it literary and social as well as rhythmic meaning. The beat will exist as a series of spoken syllables first (known in South India as konakol). Then, those syllables can be translated into music (through the hands of a percussionist) or dance (through the feet of the dancer).
In my work with a variety of Aboriginal Australian communities (through my role at CuriousWorks) I have noticed a very similar way of thinking. There is a shared language and philosophy between art forms, without compromising the ability of each medium to speak to its own, greatest strength.
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How might the use of sound and music in a modern transmedia product operate in a similar manner? How might an artist build a world which has a particular philosophy on aesthetics first, and then plays that philosophy out, according to those rules, through the building of the world? These are the questions I am looking to explore in my first year as Associate Artist.
This is tricky ground. Although transmedia might be an ancient concept, it occupies a different space in a post-industralised world. As argued by Derek Johnson, “culture and mythology have been reconceived as proprietary, manageable property.” On the one hand transmedia production is fertile ground for communities in the margins of Western society. They have the tools now to create transmedia artistic product that better mirror the complexity of their own aesthetic and cultural systems – product that can reach a mass audience. On the other hand, transmedia production is potentially dangerous ground for communities who might end up commercialising what is scared to them without retaining control. I am reminded at this point of the Chinese letter for crisis, which contains the letters for both danger and opportunity. But the dilemma emerging from this proposition is too large to unpack for now; it will have to remain the subject of another blog post.
S. Shakthidharan is the inaugural Carriageworks Associate Artist. Carriageworks will support and collaborate with Shakthidharan over the next three years to undertake a diverse program of professional development and mentorship that will underpin the development of a series of new Australian works. Shakthidharan’s practice focuses on collaboration with some of Australia’s most marginalised communities and the telling of Australian stories from ancient to contemporary migration from South and South East Asia to Australia.
By Jason Blake
March 11, 2013
Rosie Dennis’ new work begins with a eulogy for one of its creators, Daryl Cooke. It’s unsettling. Did he die during rehearsal?
Actually, no. Daryl is very much alive. Moreover, he’s not very happy with the tone of the tribute, or with the playing of The Pacemakers’ version of You’ll Never Walk Alone. So it’s back to the drawing board. Performed outdoors, in a vertically-arranged garden of lettuce, herbs and marigolds, Life As We Know It gives space for its participants - all senior citizens with little or no theatrical experience in the conventional sense - to talk about ageing, share lessons learnt over decades, and affirm the things of enduring importance, such as companionship and faith.
Most talk about the need for time, to think and to listen. Their sense of connection appears enviable, though June Hickey (who co-starred with Dennis in Driven to New Pastures) touches on the loneliness that comes when old age sees you out of step with a city addicted to velocity and multi-tasking.
The garden is a place of respite and contemplation; where Ivan Sevroric can lead his friends through a tai chi class and reveal his secret to maintaining a 50-year marriage. It’s here Judy Murray can unload her anxieties about the future of the planet and where Dot Weir’s dreams of being a showgirl can be realised.
Dennis’s stewardship of her co-creators has produced a genial hour probably longer on charm than surprising insight. At a deeper level it is a gentle provocation, a challenge to assumptions about who should occupy our stages and what stories they should tell.
Life As We Know It moves to Carriageworks March 14-16.
Image: A celebration: cast and crew on the garden set. Photo: Anna Kucera
Liane Rossler curates HERE AND NOW project space at Carriageworks, offering exclusive original works by Australian artists
Sydney, Australia: Award-winning Sydney designer Liane Rossler has been appointed to curate a series of four project spaces throughout 2013, to be presented at Carriageworks.
The project - entitled HERE AND NOW - will transform the purpose-built space every three months with new commissions and limited edition works by Australian artists, designers and makers. The objects and artworks presented in HERE AND NOW will be available for purchase exclusively from Carriageworks.
Liane Rossler has created HERE AND NOW in the spirit of an artist-driven, experimental project. It is the first time some of the artists are working in these mediums and different dimensions. Four different concepts - each with completely new looks - will be presented throughout 2013: USEFUL, TOTES, LUCKY and STAR.
The initiative launched in January with USEFUL, a space dedicated to works made with an innovative approach, including recycled materials, found objects, or unique materials including organic food waste (Dale Hardiman) and Murray River salt (Ken and Julia Yonetani). The USEFUL space was fitted out with hand-made recycled papier mâché walls, raw steel shelving and sea-grass flooring.
Artists featured in USEFUL include Sionemaletau Falemaka, Sarah Goffman, Dale Hardiman, Vanessa Holle, Leah Jackson, Sassy Park, Jane Polkinghorne, Dear Plastic, Supercyclers, Tin and Ed, Lana Alsamir Diamond, Matt Fearns as well as Ken and Julia Yonetani.
The second project will be themed around TOTES and will launch on Monday 8th April, running until 3rd June 2013. TOTES will coincide with Australian Fashion Week, being presented at Carriageworks for the first time this year.
Fifteen of Australia’s most exciting artists and designers have been invited to take part in TOTES, for which they will each design a unique or limited edition bag. The bags will be available for sale for between $50 and $350.
Liane Rossler commented: “We love that TOTES is a positive term and we love that tote bags are so useful. The concept for TOTES is simple: totally great bags designed or made by totally great artists.“
MEDIA CONTACT: For further information, interviews and imagery, please contact Kym Elphinstone on firstname.lastname@example.org, 0421 106 139 or Gabrielle Wilson at email@example.com, 0433 972 915.
15 February, 2013
Broadsheet cherry-picks four unmissable events from Carriageworks’ 2013 program.
2012 was certainly quite the year for Carriageworks, the urban arts centre that resides in the old Eveleigh Rail Yards. Its first comprehensive annual program, which included partnerships with major events like the Sydney Festival and the Biennale of Sydney, saw a whopping 220,000 people (double its 2011 numbers) visit the still relatively young institution.
Having successfully wrapped up another year with the Sydney Festival, the Redfern venue welcomes two new partnerships in 2013, presenting Australian Fashion Week and Sydney Contemporary in the coming months. And in welcome news for those holding the purse strings a little tighter this year, all ticketed events in the program can be snapped up at a flat rate of $35.
Read on for our top picks from Carriageworks’ artistic program for 2013.
Slow Dances for Fast Times
Critically acclaimed choreographer Martin del Amo creates 12 portraits, each representing a different act of solitary defiance against an environment of conformity. Each solo dance is set to a disparate and distinct soundtrack, making the entire work reminiscent of a concept album.
Birds with Skymirrors
Performed to global acclaim at Théâtre de la Ville (Paris), Holland Festival (Netherlands) and Edinburgh International Festival (UK), climate change is the focus of this confluence of dance, ceremony and poetry by Samoan choreographer Lemi Ponifasio. An intriguing work, Birds with Skymirrors skirts the line between theatre and dance.
Stories Then & Now
How much does our past inform our present? War robs a father of his children, obliterates a young woman’s village and deprives a young man of his ambitions. Six Asian Australians tell their personal stories of determination and defiance in a contemporary Australia.
Fight the Landlord
Three girls sit around chatting about celebrity gossip, property prices, love affairs, living off their parents and 3D films. Sounds like an average Friday night, no? Except, the girls are dressed as pandas, surrounded by a forest of plastic trees and begin a card game intriguingly termed ‘Fight the Landlord’. Not for the faint hearted (it is presented in Mandarin, with English subtitles), this comical theatrical performance aims to test the boundaries of relationships.
By Renata Gorton
February 16, 2013
Fashion Confidential was this week treated to a glimpse of this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia schedule.
The full schedule is to be announced in early March and is expected to feature more than 55 new and established designers, among them Bec and Bridge, Lisa Ho, Alice McCall, Manning Cartell and Romance Was Born.
Bec and Bridge started at MBFWA as part of the New Gen show in 2009 and have now done five stand-alone shows. They’ll present 30 spring/summer looks and believe it’s essential they have a presence at MBFWA.
‘It’s an important marketing exercise,’ co-designer Bec Cooper said.
‘Commercially, we already have the sales but I think it’s really important for brand awareness, especially internationally.’
It costs as much as $100,000 to stage a MBFWA runway show.
‘We just see it as a necessary expense that we factor into our budget and planning,’ Cooper said.
Co-designer Bridget Yorston also believes a runway show “elevates” the brand’s international appeal.
‘It positions us as a designer brand,’ she said.
This year’s event has been brought forward to April 8 and moved from the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay to Carriageworks at Eveleigh.
Elle Persson, a spokeswoman for festival organiser IMG, says the dates would maximise sales.
‘We felt the dates before were too late in the buying cycle and these new dates means buyers will be attending with their chequebooks open,’ she said.
Persson believes the new location has attracted established designers who had previously dropped off the MBFWA calendar.
‘Carriageworks is seen as a more creative space and more designers are keen to participate,’ she said.
Persson also believes the new location has attracted established designers who had previously dropped off the MBFWA calendar.
‘The venue is positioned in Sydney as a hub for cultural arts and design, you can see it in the building, it’s a very industrial space built for creative’s.’
There will be three stages under the one central building, as well as a dining hall and photographic studio.
‘Labels can create their look books while they have the model’s hair makeup done and the collection available after the show,’ Persson said.
‘This is an Australian initiative which will help new generation designers, who can walk away with professional look book without the associated costs.’
Persson believes the most significant change is MBFWA’s partnership with trade show Premiere, which will feature 60 boutique exhibitors.
‘For designers in this economic climate, we’ve worked hard to enhance the business opportunities at the event,’ she said.
‘Premiere will host seminars for the industry, covering trade specific topics, exporting, manufacturing, digital and trend forecasting.
‘Digital and technology will play a huge part in 2013, although MBFWA is a trade event we’re looking to engage the consumer because the audience for fashion shows has broadened.’
Image: Designers Bridget Yorston (middle) and Bec Cooper (right) from Bec&Bridge with model Amelia modelling one of their designs / Pic: Adam Taylor / Source: The Daily Telegraph
Sydney, Australia: Slow Dances for Fast Times is the dance equivalent of a concept album – one elaborate dance event comprising 12 intimate solo performances. Intentionally fun and deliberately diverse, this dynamic new production taps into the musical memory of onlookers by setting each of the pieces to a pop or dance music classic from the past 50 years. Performed by an eclectic mix of high profile dancers and set against a stylized backdrop of mirror balls and velvet curtains, the work carefully contrasts the classical and the grand with the intimate and poetic. The result is a rich weave of textures, rhythms and sounds which traverses a broad spectrum of dance styles and cultural influences.
Slow Dances for Fast Times, presented by Carriageworks from 6 – 9 March 2013, has been created by renowned Sydney dancer and choreographer Martin del Amo and features performances by some of Australia’s highest profile and most respected dancers. It follows the success of del Amo’s Helpmann Award-nominated work Anatomy of an Afternoon, which played to sold-out houses at Sydney Opera House as part of the 2012 Sydney Festival. According to del Amo, his latest work has been designed to reflect the adventurous, open-minded approach to collaboration that characterises the independent dance sector in Australia today.
‘This new work has been an exciting opportunity to continue my interest in the development of solo dance work while developing collaborative relationships with highly skilled dancers from across the country with whom I have not previously worked. Each of the dancers brings their own unique background and signature style to the works with an unexpected and eclectic array of performances. I see each of the works as mini portraits, bringing many artists together under one unified theme with dynamic and surprising results,’ said Martin del Amo.
The soundtrack of the works covers a diverse range of genres traversing international music hits over the past five decades, ranging from a 1960s soul track by Dusty Springfield to a 1970s rock anthem by Jimmy Hendrix. The music continues into the 1990s with dance club classics including tracks by Portishead and 2000s radio favourites by Regina Spektor and Antony and the Johnsons. The eclectic musical theme is completed with a Spanish torch song and even an operatic aria.
Like the soundtrack, del Amo’s choice of dancers is deliberately diverse. Each of the performers comes from a distinctively different cultural and artistic background. They are also of varying ages, physicalities and cities across Australia. From Jane McKernan and Elizabeth Ryan, who are known for their work with The Fondue Set, to Vicki Van Hout who has been highly successful with Briwyant. Likewise, Sara Black is best known for her frequent collaborations with Chunky Move, and Kirk Page through his work in musical hit shows such as Priscilla – Queen of the Desert.
Del Amo has set the works against a richly dramatic backdrop to create an event-like atmosphere. For the production, the artist is working in collaboration with award-wining production designer Clare Britton, who is best known for her work as a performer with My Darling Patricia. As well, del Amo is working with the Helpmann Award-nominated lighting designer Matt Marshall.
Above all, del Amo explains, he seeks to present a dance work which is accessible and fun for audiences, while also toying with their expectations of contemporary dance.
‘We’re using pop songs that are instantly recognisable in order to connect with people’s vivid memories of where they were when they first heard that song. Perhaps it triggers memories of a first kiss or a last school disco, tapping into individual emotions for each audience member, be they positive or negative,’ said del Amo.
‘The work is ultimately a contrast of the grand and the intimate. On one hand, we are presenting a large, elaborate show in a classic dance recital setting. On the other, we are showing 12 solo performances which create an intimate moment of exchange between audiences and the dancer. It’s a play on traditional conventions of dance and asks audiences to question if those expectations can be shifted,’ he said.
Dates: 6-9 March 2013, 8pm
Where Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street Eveleigh, Sydney Tickets $35
February 9, 2013
There are many ways to make a portrait of one’s mother. Probably the most famous example is James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s painting of his old mum sitting in a chair, looking as stiff as an Egyptian statue. He titled the picture Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (1871).
In Waste Not, one of the major visual art events of the 2013 Sydney Festival, Song Dong has given us a picture of his mother, Zhao Xiangyuan (1938-2009), through the thousands of things she collected during a lifetime that encompassed the entire Maoist era. It was a period of extreme hardship and peril.
Perhaps the most original part of this installation is that Song Dong actually turned his mother into the artist, allowing her to arrange the items within the gallery when the piece was first exhibited in Beijing in 2005. Zhao Xiangyuan was in residence throughout the show, talking with visitors and telling stories about the objects on display. Her presence gave a personality to things that would usually be regarded as rubbish.
Before arriving in Sydney, Waste Not has been shown in South Korea, Germany, Britain and, in 2009, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The British showing, in Walsall, was the first time Song Dong had to reconstruct the piece without his mother. He and his sister, Song Hui, felt that ”if they immersed themselves in the objects, their mother would still be there with them”.
”In fact,” the curator, Wu Hung, writes, ”they tried to convince themselves that her spirit was actually there, among the things she had gathered around herself for so many years.”
Whether or not Zhao Xiangyuan’s spirit has made the journey to Australia to see her treasures installed at Carriageworks, this is an unusually intimate and touching event. At first glance, Waste Not resembles the ”accumulations” of artists such as Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, or the late Jason Rhoades, but we quickly realise it is a completely different proposition.
We may still be looking at a lot of junk, but it is meaningful junk, collected piece-by-piece by a single person because she thought it might come in handy one day.
Zhao Xiangyuan was not only the creator of this stockpile, she was the victim of it. Song Dong initially conceived of the installation as a kind of therapy to cure his mother of her compulsive hoarding, which had taken on a pathological dimension since the death of his father in 2002. Her apartment was completely crammed. She grew angry and anxious at the thought of throwing anything out.
It doesn’t require Sigmund Freud to work out the reasons for this behaviour. Zhao Xiangyuan’s thriftiness was inscribed onto her soul during childhood, when her father was sent to a labour camp and she and her mother endured the most crushing poverty. When one is living hand-to-mouth, the smallest items might be recycled and turned into something useful.
In later years the habit persisted, even though she and her extended family lived in cramped quarters. During the Cultural Revolution history repeated itself, as her husband, Song Shiping, was sent away for re-education. It was only after Shiping was rehabilitated that the pressures of life began to ease, but by this stage hoarding had become second nature.
Song Dong could see the reason his mother’s collecting activities escalated in her old age. He wrote at the beginning of this project: ”I understand her need to fill the space with those objects of daily life rather as a need to fill the emptiness left after my father’s death.”
Zhao Xiangyuan’s story is not exceptional. She is in many ways a typical product of that sad and difficult era, when Chairman Mao launch a ”Great Leap Forward” that plunged the nation into chaos and poverty and contributed to the deaths of 40 million people. While the quality of life continued to shrivel, the revolutionary songs and slogans grew ever more strident. With such a recipe for madness, she did well to become only a compulsive collector.
In Waste Not we not only see the material traces of one woman’s psychopathology, we see the manias and obsessions of a nation living in an extended state of insecurity. It is not merely a portrait of Song Dong’s mother but a portrait of recent Chinese history constructed from many diverse objects, such as a painting by Arcimboldo.
If you are wondering what exactly Zhao Xiangyuan collected, Wu Hung has compiled a list of 53 separate categories of object, before giving up and writing ”and so on”. It begins with wooden boards, chairs, blocks of polystyrene, flowerpots, pottery jars and bars of soap, and goes on to include plastic bottle caps, fast-food containers, telephones, bottles, bags, shoes, toys, old clothes, birdcages, an old gramophone and a television set. And so on! Seeing this show may galvanise some viewers into cleaning out their own cupboards and sheds.
Many of these items are worn and dirty, imbued with a sense of tawdry pathos. In Beijing, the display held a special nostalgia for people who came up to exchange stories with Zhao Xiangyuan. Seven or eight years later, this remarkable hoard acts as a memorial to its producer and continues to strike an emotional chord with audiences.
There is nothing exotic about the kind of things Zhao Xiangyuan collected. Every piece has its counterpart in Australia or almost any other country. By focusing so intently on these things, Song has created - or facilitated - a work of universal relevance.
Waste Not is the supreme example of that tendency in contemporary Chinese art Wu Hung calls ”the domestic turn”. I’m not sure about this label, as it conjures up thoughts of kitchens and lounge rooms, but he is referring to a new-found concentration on the rapidly changing circumstances of life in China. It is a third phase, after the breakthroughs of the ‘85 New Wave, when artists were able to engage for the first time with modern Western art; and the plunge into commercialism and kitsch of the 1990s, as Chinese artists began to create products for an international market.
Song was born in 1966 but he is very much at home with a younger generation of Chinese artists who are less concerned with grand political statements than with the minutiae of their own lives. This is a tendency one sees in many of the works shown at the White Rabbit Gallery. The paradox is that a close examination of private life leads inevitably to some form of political understanding.
When Waste Not was shown in Beijing, Song Dong included a sentence, spelt out in neon and located in a skylight: ”Dad, don’t worry! Mom and us are fine.” This was meant to be a message to his late father and a consolation to his mother, who was still grieving.
In Sydney, a variant on this sentence is installed in a skylight at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, in Haymarket, as part of a complementary exhibition.
This time the message reads: ”Dad and Mum, don’t worry about us, we are all well.”
If the Carriageworks show is all about Song Dong’s mother, the works at 4A are focused on his father, Song Shiping. In a series of video projections and installations, Song Dong examines his relationship with a father from whom he always felt slightly distant. This was not because there was any lack of love on either part, but because Song Dong, who was born in the same year the Cultural Revolution was unleashed, hardly saw his father during his childhood.
When Song Dong was seven, Shiping made a rare visit home from the camp where he was interned. The boy turned and ran when he saw this strange man coming - another common occurrence during those days. In fact, I’ve seen that exact scene played out in a Chinese movie.
In a video piece called Touching My Father (1997) Song Dong projects his own hand onto his father’s body as a substitute for the physical contact that never seemed possible. In other pieces he projects his face over that of his father or other family members, emphasising the deep connections that override any sense of estrangement.
It is an odd sensation to watch a father and son who obviously have a great love for each other struggling to overcome the invisible barriers that have grown up between them. Song Dong stares at his father and his father stares at him. The son’s phantom hand touches the father on his chest, and Shiping removes his shirt to improve the quality of the contact.
It is not simply a generation gap that has to be bridged, it is the legacy of a revolutionary ethos that made adversaries out of children and their parents. One realises there is still a lot of work to be done in healing the wounds that a poisonous ideology inflicted on Chinese family life.
SONG DONG: WASTE NOT
Carriageworks, until March 17
SONG DONG: DAD AND MUM, DON’T WORRY ABOUT US, WE ARE ALL WELL
4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, until March 30.
January 28, 2013
Aboriginal plays are out of fashion at mainstream Australian theatre companies but a quota is not the answer, says a leading indigenous playwright and director.
Andrea James, the artistic associate at Carriageworks, said theatre continued to be dominated by white, middle-class men, with few works by indigenous writers being staged.
”At the moment, in particular, there’s a lot of interpretations of classic texts,” she said. ”That’s the trend. Last decade, we were a little bit more trendy.”
James is a former artistic director of the Melbourne Workers Theatre and co-writer of Coranderrk: We Will Show the Country, which will be staged at Belvoir St Theatre in December.
This Heaven, by first-time indigenous playwright Nakkiah Lui, will open at the Surry Hills theatre next month.
James is taking part in Yellamundie, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Playwriting Festival, which opens on Monday.
She said she was frustrated that indigenous plays seemed to be staged only when there was ”a specific pot of money”.
But she did not support compelling theatre companies to stage indigenous plays because a quota would lead to the ”dumbing down of our work”.
However, James said it was ”pretty tricky to try and shoehorn yourself into these theatre companies and venues that to all intents and purposes are programmed by non-indigenous people”.
Six plays written by indigenous writers will be developed during the two-week festival before being performed by Aboriginal actors at a series of free public play readings at Carriageworks from February 7 to 9.
James said Yellamundie provided a ”culturally conducive environment” for Aboriginal theatre practitioners to work with and support each other.
The process of refining indigenous plays was also easier than at a mainstream theatre company because participants understood the cultural protocols that needed to be heeded when telling Aboriginal stories.
James will be directing two plays by Sydney playwrights Jada Alberts and Billy McPherson, who are also actors.
Alberts’s Weight, inspired by a family member, is about a young man dealing with the suicide of a friend.
McPherson’s Cuz is an autobiographical work about the experiences of the playwright and his cousin, both members of the stolen generations. ”I’m just trying to tell the audience about our struggle and about where we can get to,” he said.
McPherson said he felt like ”a kid in a candy shop” participating in Yellamundie.
”I really can’t wait for all this to come together: the actors, writers, directors, the people behind the scenes,” he said.
Yellamundie is on at Carriageworks until February 9.
January 9, 2013
Acclaimed Australian composer Jon Rose shipped his latest instrument 1000km for the premiere of his new work, Wreck, as part of Sydney Festival. No, it’s not a rare Strad. It’s a rusty old wreck. Literally.
And it arrived at CarriageWorks in Eveleigh from the remote NSW mining village of White Cliffs.
Rose will 'play' the wrecked Kingswood ute in performances that give a whole new meaning to heavy metal music.
'I’m going to bow it like a big violin,' Rose says.
Sound artist Claire Edwardes will use the Kingswood as a percussion instrument and hit it with things. Erkki Veltheim will accompany the others on violin obligato.
'It’s important to have a violin in it because that’s where I come from,' Rose says. 'It’s a central focus of my work. It’s a major audio-visual work done on the smell of an oily rag.'
Rose says he began photographing car wrecks while undertaking his Great Fences Of Australia project in 1983.
During that project, he 'played' fences across the country. 'We have been making an audio-visual map of all these fences across Australia,' he says.
'You can’t help noticing all these wrecks. So I started photographing them.'
He finally settled on the Kingswood which was handily rusting into the ground next door to the people he was staying with at White Cliffs.
After the festival, the car will be disposed of. 'We’re not taking it back — we can’t afford to,' Rose says. 'Its official resting place is going to be some Sydney dump somewhere.'
Rose is interested in the way the environment reclaims and absorbs industrial discards such as cars, in the manner of Alan Weisman’s acclaimed book The World Without Us. In between performances, Wreck will exist as an art installation and will be open for viewing.
Oh, and the music promises to be loud.
'Bring your earplugs,' says Sydney Festival.
CarriageWorks, 245 Wilson St, Eveleigh; January 11-13, 10am-4pm, 14-17, 10am-6pm, performances Friday 7.30pm and 9pm, Saturday and Sunday 6.30pm and 8pm, free.
December 31, 2012
Chinese artist Song Dong’s intriguing project at Carriageworks has its roots in the hutongs, or alleyways, of old Beijing.
Song Dong’s mother had her simple home in Banshang Hutong in central Beijing in a tiny street where the communal style of living is vanishing in the shadow of new office blocks.
It was from Banshang Hutong that Song Dong removed the timber skeleton of two rooms of the family home. The rooms, over a century old, were being rebuilt.
In Song Dong’s project, titled Waste Not, those two rooms are recreated using the original timber. Surrounding the structure are 10,000 domestic objects collected by Song Dong’s mother, Zhao Xiangyuan, since the 1950s.
Waste Not is a slice of Beijing’s culture in transition, lifted out of the hutongs and neatly arranged on the Carriageworks floor to show the gulf between today’s consumer society and the older generations who lived through the Cultural Revolution. The ingrained frugality of older people is becoming increasingly anachronistic in the eyes of their children and grandchildren.
Song Dong’s mother lived a simple life until she was suddenly widowed in 2002 and her long-term habit of keeping things developed into clinical hoarding. As part of her grief, she sought to build herself a psychological cocoon of familiar objects.
“That really touched me. I thought, ‘I will give my mother a job. Let her organise things’,” Song Dong says.
Zhao Xiangyuan sorted through all her possessions, including old toys and magazines, electrical wires, basins and buckets, string, empty toothpaste tubes, and soap bars kept in years when they were rationed.
Song Dong’s idea worked. The process allowed his mother to tell the stories of all her items as she sorted them. When they became an artwork, she chatted to all the visitors who came to see it.
Until her death in 2009, Zhao Xiangyuan arranged the objects wherever Waste Not was exhibited. Among other places, it has been seen at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Now she is gone, the work is done by Song Dong, his wife Yin Xiuzhen, sister Song Hui and his 10-year-old daughter Song Errui.
“The young generation, they throw away everything,” Song Dong says.
“This project shows people to think what we can use again.”
A survey of artworks by Song Dong is on at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art from January 5.
“It’s a curated selection to provide context around his conceptual strategies with family,” 4A director Aaron Seeto says.
Waste Not, Carriageworks, 245 Wilson St, Eveleigh, January 5-March 17; Dad and mum, don’t worry about us, we are all well, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, 181-187 Hay St, City, January 5-March 30; free
December 31, 2012
At first glance, it looks like the cleaners at Carriageworks have downed tools. Hundreds of plastic water bottles compete for space with pots and pans, toothpaste and toys, rows of shoes and piles of clothes in the vast public foyer of the arts complex.
A pathway through Chinese artist Song Dong’s Waste Not even takes visitors past the wooden skeleton of his parents’ 120-year-old house.
The director of Carriageworks, Lisa Havilah, points out a calendar that marks the date in 2002 when Song’s father was cremated and a large pile of soap Song’s mother collected during her lifetime.
”During the Cultural Revolution, you could only get soap through collecting coupons,” she says.
”She was worried her children wouldn’t be able to have any soap as adults so she collected it to give to the kids when they became adults.”
Part of the 2013 Sydney Festival, Song’s Waste Not features more than 10,000 items collected by the artist’s mother over five decades, carefully laid out across an area of 1275 square metres.
The Beijing artist says the vast installation was originally conceived to help his grieving mother cope with the death of her husband in 2002.
“Through this work I wished to reconnect my mother with people and give her a new start in life,” he says.
The title of the work refers to a Communist slogan from the Cultural Revolution exhorting people to be thrifty and reuse objects.
The 10,000 items took Song, his wife and daughter, and six Carriageworks staff two weeks to arrange on the floor of Carriageworks, and is the ninth time Waste Not has been displayed.
Waste Not was previously shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2009, the year Song’s mother died, and at the Barbican in London in 2012.
”Each time we have a very different experience,” he says.
It is also a trip down memory lane for the artist, who says he discovers something new about his parents each time he installs the work.
This time, Song says he found a device his father created for rolling cigarettes, which he had not seen for more than 30 years.
Another item fashioned from scrap material by his handy father was used to make fried noodles - a simple dish denied to many during the turbulent decade of the Cultural Revolution.
”Our life was very difficult, but my father was always making things and my mother made clothes for us,” Song says. ”I have deep memories of that. They taught me the value of something made by your hands.”
One of China’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, Song was born in 1966, the year the Cultural Revolution was launched by China’s leader Mao Zedong, and his work often addresses the impact of this momentous period in Chinese history on his family as well as the country’s fast pace of change.
His previous works include Eating the City, a series of sculptures made from biscuits that viewers could consume, and Breathing, which featured him lying face down in Tiananmen Square and the frozen Houhai Lake.
His latest work, 36 Calendars, features household calendars depicting historical events from the past 36 years drawn by Song and will be exhibited at Hong Kong’s Asia Art Archive from January 22.
A retrospective of Song’s artistic practice over the past 20 years, Dad and Mum, Don’t Worry About Us, We Are All Well, will open on January 5 at the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Haymarket.
Although Song’s work provides a personal insight into Chinese history, Havilah says it is also a portrait of a family over a number of generations that has universal appeal.
She says Australian viewers too will be familiar with the hoarding of objects for scarce times: ”In the same way our grandparents kept items in case things ran out, it connects to the Australian memory as well.”
Waste Not is on at Carriageworks in Eveleigh from January 5 to March 17.
Dad and Mum, Don’t Worry About Us, We Are All Well is on at the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Haymarket from January 5 to March 30.
December 11, 2012
Carriageworks has announced its 2013 artistic program, including performances from Archie Roach, Tony-nominated New York cabaret icon Mx Justin Vivian Bond and acclaimed Chinese artist Song Dong.
Partnerships with the Sydney Festival and the Biennale of Sydney will continue, as well as welcoming two new major events, with Australian Fashion Week and Sydney Contemporary also being presented.
The 2013 program aims to build on Carriagework’s successful 2012 season. Carriageworks Director Lisa Havilah believes the program will offer the audience a more robust and dynamic artistic experience. ‘In 2013 we are looking to build upon our existing strong platform of artist-driven contemporary multi-arts programming which spans visual arts, theatre, dance, film and music. The Carriageworks program reflects the social and cultural diversity both of our home in Redfern as well as of Australia more widely, with a strong Asia Pacific focus emerging in 2013,’ Havilah said.
Part of the Asia Pacific focus will include the first event by Chinese artist Song Dong. Featuring a large-scale contemporary art installation, Song Dong: Waste Not, was recently shown at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. The installation uses contents of an entire house and represents the artists’ mother’s process of grief.
Stories Then and Now will see six Asian Australians tell their personal stories, bringing together past and present. Directed by storyteller William Yang and written by Annette Shun Wah, the story explores the challenges of war and its effects on fatherhood, ambition and children, as well as exploring heartbreak, yearning and embracing your cultural homeland. These stories are also explored in the context of contemporary Australia.
Legendary Australian singer-songwriter Archie Roach will perform a free concert, Archie Roach at Yabun in Sydney’s Victoria Park, on 26 January. Roach’s performance at Yabun is part of the festival’s celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture.
Also featured as part of the program’s focus on the diversity in Australia, is Yellamundie: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Playwriting Festival from 27 January until 9 February. Building on the national legacy of Black Theatre, Yellamundie (Dharug for storyteller) will unearth six new plays by Aboriginal playwrights.
Mx Justin Vivian Bond will give a special one-night only performance on 16 February. Justin Vivian Bond is Mx America is a new show that includes music from the album Dendrophile.
As part of its future direction, Carriageworks has also appointed Shakthi Sivanathan as an associate artist. Sivanathan will research and develop a large-scale transmedia project, with a focus on producing a feature film. The film is due to be premiered in late 2015. The project will also include audiovisual works telling stories about ancient migrational journeys from South and South East Asia to Australia, as well as a theatre piece to accompany the story. The story will be told across all platforms with a similar aesthetic and narrative connections providing the audience with one integrated artistic experience.
Rima Sabina Aouf
December 12, 2012
Everyone’s favourite rail yard turned arts centre, Carriageworks, has announced a vibrant program for 2013 that includes work from local and international heroes including Chinese artist Song Dong, New York cabaret icon Mx Justin Vivian Bond, famed choreographer Martin Del Amo, Melbourne kooks The Black Lung Theatre and Whaling Firm, and Ireland’s Pan Pan Theatre.
This is only the second comprehensive annual program for the still young institution, which boasted doubled attendance figures in 2012, projected to be 220,000 visitors. Now 2013 might be marked as the year where Carriageworks truly carved out its place in Sydney, by further embracing its Redfern home while making new connections with our broader neighbours, the Asia-Pacific.
Kicking off the year is the visually flooring large-scale art installation Waste Not by Song Dong. A transformative representation of his mother’s mourning process following the death of his father, the work will involve laying out the entire contents of her house to fill the Carriageworks foyer.
Cross-cultural colabs with the Asia-Pacific continue throughout the year as Carriageworks brings out the Black Lung Theatre and Whaling Firm’s thrillingly unexpected project with East Timorese rockers Galaxy and LiuraiFo’er, Doku Rai (You, dead man, I don’t believe you); Pan Pan Theatre (Ireland) and Square Moon Culture (Beijing)’s vividly absurdist card game Fight the Landlord; and Samoan choreographer Lemi Ponifasio soaringly elegiac Birds with Skymirrors, a depiction of the tiny island of Tarawa in the time of climate change.
Carriageworks’ commitment to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture will be very visible this year with the Australia Day Yabun concert in Victoria Park, to be headlined by Archie Roach. Kicking off the next day is the two-week Yellamundie playwriting festival, which will bring together Indigenous writers, dramaturgs, directors, and actors to develop six new plays. Mid-year, catch the free LIVE and DEADLY exhibition, which recalls iconic moments from the streets of Redfern — including Keating’s speech, the Apology, and the riots.
Other highlights include a newbie from documentary theatre whizzes Version 1.0, Vehicle Failed to Stop, which looks at private contractors working in Iraq. Martin del Amo shows off 12 choreographic portraits in Slow Dances for Fast Times, and FBi Radio’s Marty Doyle hosts a one-day record fair dubbed At First Sight.
Carriageworks is also looking to the future; a new three-year strategy will see them commission 18 Australian and six international artists to create 24 new works that play at the boundaries of choreography, visual arts, and film. The initiative comes complete with a great title — 24 Frames Per Second.
18 October, 2012
By Paula Joye
There will be no more harbour views for Australia’s leading runway event as Mercedes Benz Australian Fashion Week exits the International Passenger Terminal in favour of the industrial event space at Carriageworks in Eveleigh.
The move was announced yesterday over fashion-sized egg tarts (tiny) and mini espressos (tinier) and put rest to speculation that the shows would move to the Opera House. Designer Lisa Ho was pleased about the new site. ‘Change is good. I worked on the costume design for the Olympics Opening Ceremony here (Carriageworks) - it was our undercover headquarters – so it’s always been recognised as a secret artistic hub for the creative community’, she said.
After 10 years at The Rocks, organisers IMG Fashion felt the event had outgrown the waterfront location with the heritage rail yards offering over 87,000 square foot of usable area. ‘Carriageworks provides thirty five per cent more physical space’ said Peter Levy, Senior Vice President & Managing Director of IMG Fashion Worldwide. ‘This means we can offer increased infrastructure at the same reduced investment we did in 2012’.
In an effort not to pour the past into a new location, IMG plans to reinvigorate all the show spaces adding photographic studios, dining areas and business rooms to provide sponsors, exhibitors and designers with different opportunities for both collection shows and sales. Transportation and parking has always been an issue for MBFWA and the new venue hopes to address this with one fashion assistant overheard saying ‘she wouldn’t have to pay her salary in parking fines this year’.
Key to the switch is the announcement of a partnership with AEC Premiere, the largest boutique trade show in Australia. In 2013, Premiere will operate directly alongside the MBAFW schedule. The inclusion of Premiere brings immediate increased infrastructure to the umbrella event, adding 150 exhibitors and an expectation of more than 1200 buyers through the doors. ‘There is power in numbers”, says Fashion Publicist, Adam Worling. “Housing an established trade event under the same roof makes sense - and hopefully that translates to sales’.
Kym Ellery, Alexandra Smart (Ginger & Smart), Camilla Freeman-Topper and brother Marc Freeman (Camilla & Marc) joined a host of designers in showing their support for the new plans, particularly the shift in dates from May to April which falls more in line with the international Spring/Summer buying calendar.
With retail still under pressure, the fashion industry has embraced the proposed changes and renewed business focus with enthusiasm. ‘The weak wont survive’, says Lisa Ho. ‘You need to be incredibly focused on customer service and product innovation. I consider myself to be a global trader – designers need to start thinking that way. These days it’s an international market - not just a local one’.
In true fashion industry style, shoes and frocks were on top of the conversation agenda with one fashion editor saying that the new venue was going to save thousands in dry cleaning bills, shoe repairs and blow drys: ‘We’ve finally got a roof over our heads – bricks and mortar at last’.
17 October, 2012
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia is set to change venues in 2013.
After a decade of fashion shows at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Sydney, IMG World announced today that Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia will be moving into a new home.
The highly anticipated Sydney shows will now take place at Carriage Works in Eveleigh, a series of repurposed 19th century railway workshops which are also home to the area’s famous grower’s markets.
The much-buzzed about change is a strategic move from IMG, who have partnered with Australian Exhibitions and Conferences in a bid to potentially attract several hundred new exhibitors and thousands of additional buyers.
Today’s venue change wasn’t the only agenda on the cards – IMG also announced that MBFWA will be bought forward on the fashion calendar, taking place from April 8-12 next year in an attempt to streamline the date with other Mercedes-Benz international fashion events.
‘This is an exciting announcement for the future of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia,’ said Peter Levy, senior vice president and managing director of IMG Fashion Worldwide Event & Properties. ‘Carriageworks will allow IMG Fashion to spotlight our commitment to support the individual business objectives of the design community through the establishment of these forthcoming partnerships and flexible solutions available at the event’s new home.’
Read Full Article
Go to Carriageworks website
17 October, 2012
Newsflash: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA) is getting a facelift.
Today it has been announced that the event will relocate from its long-time location of the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay, to the industrial Carriageworks space located in the inner-city Sydney suburb of Eveleigh.
In addition, the five-day-long style-showcase has been pulled forward on the calendar – now scheduled to run from April 8 to 12, 2013 (not in late April and early May as it has done so in the past).
This move has an economic purpose behind it, assuring that MBFWA is more aligned with the international high summer buying period. In other words: the collections showcased by Zimmermann, Romance Was Born, Carl Kapp, Magdalena Velevska, Bec & Bridge and many more home-grown design talents, are even more likely to be picked up by overseas stores, due to being seasonally compatible. In other words: win-win!
Read Full Article
Go to Carriageworks website
17 October, 2012
Sydney — Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia has a new time slot and a new home.
The dates of the event are moving forward next year, as Australia’s premier fashion runway event teams up with the country’s biggest fashion trade show organiser, Australian Exhibitions and Conferences.
Revealed Wednesday morning Sydney time, MBFWA will run from April 8 to 12 at the 87,188 square foot heritage-listed Carriageworks venue and it will be staged alongside AEC’s Premiere trade show, potentially delivering several hundred new exhibitors and thousands of additional buyers to the one-stop fashion showcase.
After a decade overlooking Sydney Harbour at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Fashion Week’s new home is a labyrinth of repurposed 19th century railway workshops in the hip, inner-city suburb of Eveleigh. Although after addressing concerns by the Australian fashion industry that the early May timing of the 18 year-old event was far too late for contemporary buying cycles, IMG Fashion had initially planned to move to the last week of March, Easter proved problematic in 2013. IMG hopes to bring the event further forward in coming years.
Peter Levy, senior vice president and managing director of IMG Fashion Worldwide Event & Properties said, “This is an exciting announcement for the future of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. Carriageworks will allow IMG Fashion to spotlight our commitment to support the individual business objectives of the design community through the establishment of these forthcoming partnerships and flexible solutions available at the event’s new home.”
‘We are thrilled to be joining Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in this new initiative,” said Harvey Stockbridge, managing director AEC. “It is an exciting time for the Australian fashion industry and we believe the two events coming together will provide designers with the opportunity to maximise sales to registered buyers of both events while extending valuable connections within the industry.’
Read Full Article
Go to Carriageworks website
October 17, 2012
IMG Fashion announced today the plans for the future of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia including a new venue, new dates and a key strategic alignment for Australian designers to expand their business opportunities while seamlessly connecting with press and buyers.
In its 18th year, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia will have a new home at Carriageworks, Sydney’s atmospheric former Eveleigh rail yards, now a vibrant hub of arts and culture. The venue enables IMG Fashion to deliver global production standards, and includes expanded onsite offerings that will provide designers with unparalleled participation options.
‘This is an exciting announcement for the future of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia,’ said Peter Levy, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of IMG Fashion Worldwide Event & Properties. ‘Carriageworks will allow IMG Fashion to spotlight our commitment to support the individual business objectives of the design community through the establishment of these forthcoming partnerships and flexible solutions available at the event’s new home.’
Lisa Havilah, Director, Carriageworks, said, ‘We are delighted Carriageworks will be the new home for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. Over the past few years, Carriageworks has become a vibrant hub of arts in Sydney that is aesthetically spectacular as well as extremely accessible. We look forward to providing the fashion industry with one central location for activities in and around the showrooms, as well as showcasing the urban side of Sydney with its vibrant design culture.’
The move to Carriageworks allows IMG Fashion to incorporate an expanded trade show element within the venue footprint. PREMIERE, the leading trade event for boutique brands, will relocate to Carriageworks and will run concurrently with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. Premiere will combine the existing Designer Suite Program and AEC’s Premiere exhibitor inventory to extend the opportunity for new Spring/Summer wholesale collections to be sold directly to registered buyers of both events, and is likely to increase local and international buyer attendance.
‘We are thrilled to be joining Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in this new initiative. It is an exciting time for the Australian fashion industry and we believe the two events coming together will provide designers with the opportunity to maximise sales to registered buyers of both events while extending valuable connections within the industry,’ Harvey Stockbridge, Managing Director of Australian Exhibitions and Conferences, organisers of PREMIERE.
‘The move to Carriageworks is the culmination of extensive research and a working partnership between the NSW Government, through Destination NSW, IMG Fashion and Carriageworks,’ Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Stoner said. ‘The integration of a trade show element such as Premiere is an exciting extension to this platform for the Australian fashion industry that will have a positive economic impact for both Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia and for Sydney, the home of Australia’s creative industries. With fashion shows taking place at the new venue and off-site locations around our Harbour City in 2013, Sydney’s cosmopolitan lifestyle, rich cultural offering and natural beauty will once again be showcased to visiting interstate and international media and buyers.’
Furthering the commitment to better service the trade, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia will run from April 8 to April 12, 2013, to be more in line with the lucrative high summer buying period.
‘This has been a long development process, and the event will take its first steps towards meeting the ever changing needs of our industry. The new calendar for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia allows designers time to deliver a collection ready for the runway, maximise media attention and increase domestic sales opportunities. This date also ensures high profile international exposure aligning with the global fashion event calendar,’ says Elle Persson, Director of Strategy & Brand Development, IMG Fashion, Asia Pacific.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia at Carriageworks will offer extensive onsite resources and facilities to host key domestic and international guests. The new venue will also feature comprehensive digital platforms encouraging engagement with this global fashion showcase through social media, live streaming and pioneering new technologies.
IMG Fashion will work with Mercedes-Benz to provide attendees with convenient transportation and access to both the event and off-site venues making the hectic week of shows as effortless as possible for all attendees.
‘In our second year back as naming rights sponsor, we are proud to be working with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in such a key stage of the event’s development. Creating solutions for the industry and supporting innovation across all areas of the event from designers to infrastructure are at the very heart of Mercedes-Benz’s commitment to support fashion around the world. We look forward to being a part of another great season of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia,’ says Horst von Sanden, Managing Director, Mercedes-Benz Cars.
The announcement showcases IMG Fashion’s ongoing commitment to provide the Australian fashion industry an ever evolving platform to seamlessly connect with buyers, press and consumers and is a fitting beginning to a new chapter for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia.
Title sponsor Mercedes-Benz is joined by Destination NSW, Carriageworks, Maybelline New York, DHL, Redken 5th Avenue NYC, Getty Images, Peroni, Aqua Panna and Tempus Two Wines. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia is an IMG Event.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia Spring Summer 2013/14 will take place from
April 8 to April 12, 2013 at Carriageworks
Today it has been announced that the most important week of the nation’s cultural calendar, Mercedes-Benz Australian Fashion Week (MBFWA), will be relocated from its longtime home at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay to the heritage-listed former transportation graveyard Carriageworks, located in inner-city Sydney suburb Eveleigh.
The event has also been shuffled forward on the calendar, scheduled to run from April 8 to 12 in 2013 - a huge benefit for chic attendees who don’t appreciate their erect nipples visibly showing in street style snaps across the internet. Terrific news!
While it is widely acknowledged that the only people who really care about Fashion Week are fashion media, local designers, models and otherwise unemployed fashion bloggers, the Spring/Summer season showings provide the most significant event at which talented local designers (with the exception of maybe two) can showcase their work to local and international buyers, as well as big name international media. Not to mention that it plays a crucial part in strengthening the careers of up and coming designers, exposing their talent to a wider audience.
In 2013 Fashion Week is teaming up with the Australian Exhibitions and Conferences (AEC) Premiere trade show, a mutually beneficial relationship that will enable more exhibitors to showcase and deliver more buyers into the one space. That’s a win-win for the industry.
October 8, 2012
By Eliza Muldoon
Networking is important for the arts. Knowing what people are interested in and knowing where to find those people is really important for many of us in developing events or projects. To ensure that the arts remains diverse and fresh we need to ensure that diverse and fresh faces are brought into the existing networks all the time. With that in mind, arts interview was invited by 2012’s Vivid Festival and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) to host a panel discussion about networking in the arts. We invited four diverse panelists to talk about the development of their network and the role of networking from their professional perspective. So, the next four interviews and the next four weeks at arts interview we will be offering snippets of that panel discussion featuring advice from our panelists, one at a time.
Eliza Muldoon, Director
Lisa Havilah is the Director of Carriageworks, Redfern and previously held the position of Director at Campbelltown Arts Centre- a pioneering role that shaped the way in which institutions engage with cultural diversity and communities. Lisa was assistant director of Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and Liverpool Regional Museum between 1998 and 2004 and co-director of Project Contemporary Art Space in Wollongong between 1995 and 1998.
How important is it to locate and work with artists that are in the region that you are working in?
I have worked a lot in Western Sydney and whenever you are commissioning and producing contemporary art it is very important to consider the context of where you are working. Particularly the local context- we certainly did that in Campbelltown. On the other hand it’s very important to provide a national and international context for that very localised practice. So we always try to have a combination, a mix, of local, national and international perspectives in our programming.
In Redfern, at Carriageworks, we really look at the history, the context and the identity of Redfern. We engage artists that look at both contemporary Redfern and engage the history of Redfern.
How do you find those local artists? Do they find you?
I think when you are based in an institution you sometimes have to work hard to get outside those institutions to locate artists. When you are in such institutions there is a lot of information coming at you, all the time. You actually have to take the time to go and look at a lot of work- not just work that is easy to get to or easy to access. That actually takes a fair bit of commitment and investment. You need to look at what is happening locally on a range of levels. You have to look at local arts practice but you also have to engage with local ideas and consider what is happening across a range of disciplines.
How do you develop and maintain your relationships with artists once you’ve found them?
The relationships between artists, curators and producers are really critical, though I consider the work that I do to be artist led. A lot of the work I do at the institutions that I’m part of is to set up structures and environments that allow artists to lead the practice.
What factors influence an ongoing relationship? What makes you want to keep working with someone?
I have worked with some artists for many, many years. I think that has come about when we as an institution or I as a curator or producer have been able to deliver on the ambition of the artist and the artist, in turn, has been able to deliver on the expectation that we as an institution have placed back on them. That ongoing delivery and outcome over a long period of time allows the ambition levels to increase.
Does personality come into it?
Well, you always want to work with people that you like. I find that I want to have some sort of connection with the artist and their work. It’s easier to support them if you have empathy and investment in what they want to achieve.
How do you first identify people that you could or should get to know?
You look for the people that you want to work with you or alternatively people that you need something from, like the government. An example of this occurred when I was at an artist run initiative. We wanted money from the local council so we simply rang up the Mayor’s office and asked to meet him and then we asked him for money. You can’t be scared of knocking on their door and making contact. It’s certainly better to do that, ensuring that it is professional, rather than ask them at a social outing or situation.
It’s worth remembering that people want to help other people. You just need to understand their priorities and their policies and relate that to what your doing. It took some time to convince Campbelltown Council to invest in contemporary art but we came to understand that through contemporary art programs we could deliver whole sections of their social plan. It was important to talk about it within a broader local government context.
Finally, compulsory volunteering in the arts remains contentious, how important has volunteering been in developing your own network?
I think it’s the most important thing. I started in an artist run initiative and basically volunteered full time for three and a half years. I think that experience provided a whole range of professional opportunities that have served me throughout my whole career. I think it’s critical to make that investment.
These responses were recorded as part of the panel discussion Who You Know: Building Networks in the Arts at The Museum of Contemporary Art on June 9th 2012 .An event in partnership with arts interview and VIVID Sydney.
Original panel discussion chaired and transcribed by Eliza Muldoon
Image: Danny Aarons
Australia Council for the Arts today announced that Carriageworks will deliver a major new artistic project: 24 Frames Per Second. The initiative will commission 18 Australian artists and 6 international artists to create 24 new works spanning choreography, visual arts and film.
The initiative is a National Strategy for the Development of Screen Dance and will be presented across a number of platforms over three years culminating in a major exhibition at Carriageworks in 2015 which will tour internationally. The final commissions will also form smaller scale touring projects that will tour to regional venues across Australia.
Funded by the Australia Council for the Arts, this significant new partnership will provide Australian artists with the resources and the industry support required to develop new works, as well as afford significant opportunities to collaborate with international artists.
Carriageworks will appoint a Curatorial Producer who will work with a Curatorium comprised of industry leaders from film, producing, choreography, broadcast and visual arts to deliver the project.
Carriageworks Director Lisa Havilah says 24 Frames Per Second has been developed in response to major shifts in the cross-disciplinary, collaborative nature of choreography, visual arts and film.
“24 Frames will provide Australian artists with significant opportunities to collaborate with international artists. An Indigenous and cross cultural focus will reflect the cultural diversity of artists currently working across multiple disciplines,” says Ms Havilah.
“This project marks a significant new chapter for the Redfern based arts institution, cementing its position as a new generation of cultural institution who through its artistic program will lead a new approach to the way work is commissioned and presented. The Carriageworks artistic program will be recognised as ambitious, risk taking and unrelenting in its support of artists,” she says.
AUSTRALIAN ARTISTS commissioned to create new works under the project, include: Tony Albert (Brisbane), Alison Currie (Adelaide), Vicki Van Hout (Sydney), James Newitt (Hobart), Byron Perry and Antony Hamilton (Melbourne), Khaled Sabsabi (Sydney), Aimee Smith (Perth), Latai Taumoepeau (Sydney), Christian Thompson (Gawler, South Australia) and Lee Wilson and Mirabelle Wouters (Sydney).
INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS commissioned to create new works include: Nick Cave (USA), Sriwhana Spong (New Zealand), Wit Pimkanchanapong (Thailand) and Ming Wong (Singapore).
A diverse range of national and international partnerships will be developed in the delivery of this exciting new collaborative project.
“ABC Television is excited to be a part of this important initiative and will be a broadcasting partner. This project offers artists the chance to explore and expand the scope of their work through new platforms and collaborations, complementing our vision for our future engagement with contemporary arts practice,” says Katrina Sedgwick, ABC TV’s Head of Arts.
This initiative and major funding announcement follows record visitor attendances at Carriageworks. The Sydney contemporary arts institution has more than doubled its visitation in the first six months of 2012.
Lisa Havilah, Carriageworks Director said: “We are very proud of the fact that the 2012 Carriageworks program was designed to introduce audiences to artists working at the forefront of contemporary multi-arts practice.”
“We’re expecting further growth in audiences in the second half of the year when Carriageworks will present three major works as part of the official exhibition program for the 18th Biennale of Sydney: all our relations. This is the first time Carriageworks has partnered with the Biennale of Sydney, with a major installation by Belgian artist Ann Veronica Janssens which opened last month and two Australian premiere performances by renowned Belgian dance ensemble Rosas in September,” said Lisa Havilah, Carriageworks Director.
Carriageworks presents a contemporary multi-arts program that engages artists and audiences with contemporary ideas and issues. The program is artist led and emerges from Carriageworks’ commitment to reflecting social and cultural diversity. The Carriageworks artistic program is ambitious, risk taking and unrelenting in its support of artists. Carriageworks is cultural facility of the NSW Government and is supported by Arts NSW. Carriageworks is home to resident companies: Erth; Force Majeure; Marrugeku; Performance Space; Playwriting Australia; Reeldance; Stalker; and version 1.0 and Anna Schwartz Gallery. The Carriageworks program can be viewed at carriageworks.com.au.
Image: Antony Hamilton's Blaze Blue Oneline. Photo: Byron Perry
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