Posted by Thom Smyth, March 31st, 2015
In the second instalment of our Next Wave run down, Pony Express’ Loren Kronemyer gives us her take on what went down, artistically speaking.
Loren here, one half of the duo Pony Express. Collaborator Ian Sinclair and I have recently joined forces and been welcomed into the Kickstart development program for Next Wave Festival 2016. Our project, called Ecosexual Bathhouse, is a multisensory environment that invites people to develop a sexual relationship with their ecology. We ponies have just returned from the first milestone in our development process: a 5 day intensive in Healesville, Victoria with the entire prodigious group of Kickstart artists.
These are my dispatches from the field.
Ian and I, new as collaborators but old as friends and confidants, gamely boarded the big plane from Perth to Melbourne and touched down in a characteristic haze of mist. Before long, we were winding up to Healesville in a pair of econovans, with 20 artists and a flamboyant array of luggage in tow.
Once we had deposited our belongings in our Nancy-Meyers-esque lodgings, we got down to work. It quickly became clear that this was a group of artists at the top of their games; diverse practitioners with a wealth of collective experience, yet all committed to making some bold moves with their works in development. Feeling ourselves, feeling each other, with lots to share and the space and time to do it. Through a number of discussions indoors, discussions outdoors, discussions with food, and discussions on the karaoke stage, the theme of the week emerged: Let’s Talk About Ethics, Baby.
This was reinforced by the deployment of 3 expert provocateurs, who each raised the stakes in one field of ethical arts practice.
Paola Balla threw down the first gauntlet with a moving talk given in the frigid shadow of the Maroondah dam. She spoke about personal history, diversity, appropriation, and the mandate for each of us to decolonise our art practices.
Shortly thereafter, cradled and warm back in the Kickstart homestead, we had a session with sustainability expert Matt Wicking. He confirmed the importance of sustainability for artists, and encouraged each of us to hold ourselves to the highest personal standard of sustainability throughout our projects. He also generously treated Pony Express to a heartening project consultation session, which may have devolved into something more along the lines of eco-therapy.
Thirdly was Katrine Gabb, who spoke to us about the importance of accessibility in the arts sector and the many forms that it should take. I found this especially illuminating; hearing her champion accessibility in such a firm and reasoned tone left me eager to better serve more diverse audiences through our work.
These invigorating sessions were punctuated by the necessary frivolities of artists at play. Dance parties, garden frolicks, jacuzzi storytime, taco consumption, and a visit to the Healesville captive platypus were among other highlights, all of which we mined for Ecosexual propaganda wherever possible.
When the intensive came to its end, we all left with many high hopes for our projects and friendships. Though we were sad to go, we at Pony Express had one last treat in store to ease our reintegration into the world. Thanks to a tip from our associate producer, we spent our last morning in awe of the Amorphophallus Titanum flower (https://twitter.com/RBGTitanArum), a rare evolutionary masterpiece of unequal grandeur.
In the presence of this insane, regal, and grotesque lifeform, we were reminded of all the motivations that inspired our work. The unfolding has just begun, and we still have much to learn.
To see Ecosexual Bathhouse take shape, follow Pony Express:
Read previous Next Wave dispatch by Emma Fishwick>>
Main image by Julian Frichot. Supplementary images by Ian Sinclair.
Posted by Thom Smyth, March 31st, 2015
Heading into the Victorian countryside last week, Next Wave hosted artists from the around the country as part of its Kickstart development program. Western Australia was very well-represented, with visual artists Katie West and Dan McCabe, dance maker Emma Fishwick and new performance duo Pony Express (Ian Sinclair and Loren Kronemyer) jumping on the bus to Healesville. We’ve got two dispatches from camp for you – the first from Emma Fishwick.
My first Art Camp… it happened, I was there and so were 20 other creative folk.
Next Wave Festival occurs biennially in Melbourne and in the alternate years Next Wave run Kickstart – a curated development program that assists emerging artists in the formation and production of a select work.
Two weeks ago I embarked on my Kickstart journey by spending six nights in Healesville, Victoria. Filled with excitement, nervous uncertainty and an awkward kind of speed dating between 21 artists and producers, the week began. A heterogenous collection of makers and thinkers made every day both enlightening and challenging.
We examined cultural appropriation (i.e whose holds the right to talk about what), colonisation and accessibility in the arts, eco-friendly practice and the role of the audience. It challenged my thinking and blurred my understanding of my practice and it’s role within the wider community. As such a career holds a unique and powerful platform to evoke discussion, shift perspectives and provide a voice for the voiceless, am I doing enough, am I saying enough?
At times the discussions left me feeling paralysed with an abundance of information and experiences, some of which were foreign to me. However, I realised that simply ‘being aware’ is enough to spark creative discussion, both in and out of the studio. Not being aware and not talking about the wider issues facing our nation/culture, does more harm than good.
A constant state of amnesia by Julianna Engberg was one of many readings we had to do in preparation for this intensive. Her comment on Australia’s perpetual artistic adolescence emphasised how imperative such an awareness is for young makers. Whilst I consider myself a socially, politically and historically concerned individual, my arts practice to date has been focused primarily on form, technique and process. Whilst this is still a valid and necessary conversation, I did find myself wanting yet unsure of how to incorporate these wider issues.
I concluded that whilst I wanted to, I couldn’t change the world into a more inclusive, respectful place in one hit. What I could do was to expand my awareness, be diligent in instigating these conversations beyond the studio and in turn allow it to begin to emerge as an underlying presence in my practice.
Art camp also held much frivolity from: visiting Maroondah Dam, late night Jacuzzi sessions, red wine, wood-fired pizzas and Mexican breakfasts, gallery trips, lounge room dancing, chickens, and karaoke at the Healesville local. What is evident to me upon reflection is that the future of our creative identity was in good hands; interested, invested, experimental, intelligent and diverse hands.
I’ll conclude with words from Chus Martinez who wrote in Clandestine Happiness: “Artists, like scientists, are pioneers when it comes to creating new forms of connectivity between worlds that seem to have nothing in common….an endless study of everything that contributes to different formulations of what we call reality”.
Art Camp…it happened.
Follow Emma’s Next Wave project development
Next dispatch from Pony Express’ Loren Kronemyer>>
Group shot by Rani Pramesti. All other images by Emma Fishwick.
Posted by Thom Smyth, March 19th, 2015
This year we’re changing things up and offering blog spots for dispatches from artists, companies, programmers, designers and more. Our first blog takeover comes from Mei Saraswati, an amazing Perth-based singer and composer who is making her acting debut in Perth Theatre Company‘s season opener From The Rubble.
The show combines projection, papercraft and performance to bring to life war correspondent Sophie McNeill’s stories from the frontline. The production features a series of vignettes about life in warzones, and how we view them from afar.
Here, Mei Saraswati gives us a few insights into the creation of the show.
MS: The show feels like an emotional and personal extension of journalism, that highlights universal human feelings, needs and concerns and deals less with factual specifics. I’ve been reading lately about the role of drama and how it was used as a tool by non-violent civil rights movement activists in the 50’s. They would use drama to prepare themselves for protests.
So role-playing really has a place in a problem solving realm. Art just has this beautiful power to create empathy and to bypass politics, just breaking down the human experience and communicating in a multitude of ways.
MS: Most of my contact with war is through the news and speaking with people, so it’s second hand information. I do feel like the show is an extension of news stories where the emotional can be explored in greater detail. We can concentrate more on universal human feelings, concerns and needs than the hard facts and figures of news reporting.
MS: We started with an amazing and painful and beautiful collection of stories from Sophie McNeill, and kind of went from there. It was a really beautiful process, very difficult but really inspiring. And I ended up jumping on the stage – it’s been a weird and fun ride from singing and composing on the show to being in it and on stage.
–Mei Saraswati. Check out Mei’s full soundcloud here.
Perth Theatre Company’s From The Rubble
16 – 28 March | PICA Performance Space
Click here for tickets and more info>>
Image by Margot Maurier
Image by Margot Maurier
Image by Jon Green Photography
Image by Jon Green Photography
Posted by Thom Smyth, March 13th, 2015
We’re pretty gosh darn excited to announce we’ll be working with PRAXIS on their development of new show Dark Matter. PRAXIS are collective featuring choreographer and dancer Laura Boynes, composer and cellist Tristen Parr and visual artist and curator Alexander Boynes. They work across a range of genres and media, including dance, installation, projection and visual art.
Currently in development, Dark Matter is an exploration of our ability to adapt to changing physical and social environments. A metric tonne of rice is piled on stage, from which the six dancers emerge. It acts as floor, a prop and a projection surface, creating a constantly shifting environment for the performers.
It’s also the staple food for about half the planet. Dark Matter abstractly explores how humans are able to adapt to new surroundings, nodding to the current hot button political issues of immigration, isolation and integration.
You can follow the progress of the development here on the blog.
Posted by Thom Smyth, March 5th, 2015
We’re thrilled to announce Sensorium Theatre will be taking their interactive sensory theatre performance Oddysea to the Sydney Opera House for a season under the sails in August this year.
Performances for schools have already sold out, and there are limited tickets available for public performances – click here to purchase tickets.
The Opera House isn’t the only stop on their tour…we’ll be announcing additional performances very soon!