JADE LILLIE & LYDIA FAIRHALL / WHAT IT TAKES TO CREATE A COMMUNITY

JADE LILLIE & LYDIA FAIRHALL / WHAT IT TAKES TO CREATE A COMMUNITY

“When you’re trying to deconstruct the dominant structures, it’s not going to happen politely, is it?”
– Jade Lillie

Welcome to the final episode of the season on race, womanhood, and belonging – and you’re in for a real treat. To close a season created in partnership with Footscray Community Arts Centre, we speak with two head ladies of FCAC about the ethos that guides FCAC’s work. Departing Artistic Director Jade Lillie, and Head of Programming Lydia Fairhall, discuss white privilege, their personal history with both feminism and decolonisation, and what it really takes to create a community.

“I don’t know that spending my life attacking power structures is going to be as of much benefit for me, in this life, as trying to cultivate peace and forgiveness. (…) It’s a hard thing to think about. I’m the first woman in her family to keep her children. I have that luxury. My mother never did. Should I just be out there? Fighting the big fight? I don’t know. It’s a constant tension for me.”
– Lydia Fairhall

LETICIA CÁCERES & LENA CAMINHA / BEING UNDERSTOOD

“In Timor, in the school, we have to learn about the Portuguese language, because it’s the official language, in our country.”
“That’s not your mother tongue, is it? What’s your language?”
“Makasai. And my husband’s is Fataluku.”
“Can you two understand each other?”
“Yes.”
“And what language do you speak at home?”
“Tetum.”

In the fourth episode of the season, we speak to theatre director Leticia Cáceres, and performer and writer Lena Caminha, about language and its relationship to belonging. What happens when your mother tongue is not your country’s national language? What happens when your husband’s mother tongue is not your own? What happens when your teacher cannot pronounce your name? What happens when you migrate to a country whose language you resisted learning in school, because it was the language of the coloniser?

“Some places in this country have been bleached white. And it’s places where we don’t recognise Italians and we don’t recognise Hungarians, we don’t recognise Argentinians, that kind of make up that whole fabric of this land, and that we’re been here for quite some time, building this country together. There’s only one culture that’s recognised, and one name that’s easy to pronounce.”
– Leticia Cáceres

CANDY BOWERS & AMOS GEBHARDT & CHI VU / THE FEMALE GAZE

“Hollywood is the great value-dictator of our time.”
– Amos Gebhardt

The third episode of our season on belonging and exclusion is here, and this month we are conversing across many disciplines, and setting a record with the number of voices featured. Our guests are writer and performer Candy Bowers, artist and filmmaker Amos Gebhardt, and playwright and theatre-maker Chi Vu, three artists who have challenged the dominant narratives of gender, culture, and race both in their work, and as prominent public speakers. In this episode, recorded at FCAC and moderated by RMIT Deputy Dean of Media Lisa French, our guests speak about the female gaze on stage and screen, and what to do with Jill Soloway when being woman-identifying is only one of the parts of your identity.

“So I worked on a play called Straight White Men by Young Jean Lee last year at MTC. And I thought what was extraordinary with that play is that – I really don’t think Melbourne is at the same level regarding consciousness and dialogue in regards to whiteness and privilege – more than half of the audience saw one play, and all the intersectional feminists saw a different play. Literally, people laughed at different jokes.

I read the play and I thought it was so funny straight away, and most of the guys I was working with, including the director, didn’t think it was funny, didn’t understand it. And I thought: ‘This is a really clear case study in the fact that I’ve lived a life reading between the lines, and they’ve lived a life on the line. The line has been for them’.”
– Candy Bowers

PAOLA BALLA & CARLY SHEPPARD / MOTHERHOOD AND FEMINISM

“Familiarity with suffering makes you very strong.”
– Paola Balla

In the second episode of our season on belonging and exclusion, created in partnership with FCAC, cross-disciplinary performance artist Carly Sheppard and PhD researcher, artist and curator extraordinaire Paola Balla speak about Australian Aboriginal women’s perspective on intersectionality, motherhood, contemporary feminism, and making art. We are so privileged to be listening in.

“I think a lot of people don’t realise that it’s embedded white supremacy that’s the problem, it’s not necessarily the white people. And until they understand that they carry the scars of colonisation as well… Obviously, they don’t carry the scars that we carry, we’re a different set. But they haven’t yet owned their own set. They don’t even know what they are.”
– Carly Sheppard

ELAINE BROWN & ALIA GABRES / BLACKNESS AND WHITENESS

“I wasn’t prepared to be anybody’s mother. I was prepared to be a revolutionary.”
– Elaine Brown

Welcome to season five of Audio Stage, a very special season for us. For this season, we collaborate with Footscray Community Arts Centre to bring you a series of conversations by black women about belonging and self.

We have wanted to do this for a long time. We wanted to talk about race. We wanted to talk about Australia’s racism. We wanted to talk about dispossession, about family and intergenerational trauma, about microaggressions, about what it means to be an artist when your voice, the fact of your voice, is in and of itself a danger to the status quo. We also knew that we wanted to listen, not talk.

So here we are. In the next five episodes, we are listening in on some huge, important conversations about what it means to belong in a society that perhaps never wanted us in the first place. We record from a country in which so many of us are constantly reminded that we do not belong here.

“For me, being black, being a migrant, my parents migrating to Australia out of need, and personally having that same experience… Not wanting to speak my language for a long time, because I just wanted to speak English, like everybody else in school. I had to re-teach myself, I’m still in that process, of the language that I’ve lost. I don’t think it landed for me until I was much older – when you’re around your people, and you have that mirroring moment, and you just realise what it is that you’ve subconsciously, or consciously, left behind. For survival.”
– Alia Gabres

Community is a warm word, a comfy word: we all want to belong to something larger. But community does not exist without exclusion: how else would we know whether we’re on the outside, or on the outside? This warm and safe place, community, is a place of obligations: to behave well, to act right, to lie for your mates, and to see no evil; to not recognise harm even when it is done to you, because it’s done by one of us, and we must stand together. And not everyone gets a good deal on the inside. It is from within that Audre Lorde wrote: “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” It is from within that Virginia Woolfe wanted a room of her own.

In the fifth, upcoming season of Audiostage, we will ask what it means to want to belong; what it means to be let in, and not let in. We ask about being made an outsider even when we want to be insiders, and about the choices we make in order to step out of places we were never let into. We began recording in the week in which the Australian Government has started to weaken Section 18c, the part of the Racial Discrimination Act that makes it an offense to use racial or ethnic slurs. We recorded from a country in which so many of us are constantly reminded that we, perhaps, do not belong here.

May 23, 2017

MATTHEW TODD / HOW TO BE GAY AND HAPPY

“We’re just a whole group of people swirling around together, trying to get on with our lives, not knowing that we’ve been traumatised.”
– Matthew Todd

Our final episode of season four, #queer, takes us to London, where we speak to the author of perhaps the most extraordinary book of 2016: Matthew Todd.

Matthew Todd is a sometimes stand-up comedian, and a playwright, whose play Blowing Whistles, described as one of the most popular gay plays of recent times, has had sellout seasons in the UK and Australia. A long-time editor of the UK gay magazine Attitude, and a person who has actively participated in, and even helped shape, contemporary LGBT culture, Matthew has recently published a stunning book under the title Straight Jacket: How to be Gay and Happy, in which he takes a critical look behind the shiny façade of this culture. Part memoir, part investigative journalism, and part polemic, the book asks if gay people are as happy as it seems, and as happy as they could be, and as happy as the LGBT culture depicts. If not – why not?

In an unflinching, honest conversation about crystal meth, bullying, and fascination with divas, we cover everything that straight people rarely know, and the LGBT people rarely talk about.

“Being gay is more complicated than we have thought. … We’ve presented it as if it’s just like: ‘some people have blue eyes, some people have brown eyes’. … I think to be LGBT is really different, actually, and that goes against the grain of what we’ve been thinking over the last 10-15 years, that it’s exactly the same… Even if you go into a gay bar, it’s very different from going into a straight bar: the way people behave, the way people look, sometimes, the way people dress. There’s nothing wrong with that. If we can’t think about that, investigate that, and ultimately accept that, how can we feel OK in ourselves?”
– Matthew Todd

THE RABBLE / QUEERING ICONOGRAPHY

“We try to pose ourselves impossible questions.”
– Emma Valente

In the episode four of season four, on queer performance, Jana and Beth are joined by the extraordinary Emma Valente of the performance collective The Rabble. Self-described as “an on-going conversation between its Artistic Directors Kate Davis and Emma Valente about aesthetic, space, gender, theatre and representation”, since 2006 The Rabble have created a small, but distinguished body of work. Their eleven performance pieces to date always put the female experience at its centre: sometimes through excavations of our iconographic unconscious, sometimes by shredding to bits canonical texts such as The Picture of Dorian Gray or Story of O.

Today we talk about feminism, iconography, and queering our visual heritage.

“Yes, I think [the canon] is male-dominated, without even getting into the content, and what gaze it sits through. The repetition of the male voice over and over again through history, and then legitimising it, is undoubted.”
– Emma Valente

MATTHEW DAY / ON DANCE AND PHYSICAL AFFECT

“Maybe doing nothing for a while is the best way an activist, an artist, or an academic can do anything.”
– Matthew Day

In our last episode of season three, on dance and value, Jana and Beth are back in the studio together, this time joined by co-host Audrey Schmidt, to talk with choreographer Matthew Day about affect, physical touch, and how we can be queer outside of queer theory.

Matthew is one of the most interesting among the younger generation of Australian choreographers, appearing seemingly out of nowhere at Next Wave 2010 with THOUSANDS, a work of fully formed brilliance which would later form part of his Trilogy series. He has recently completed a Masters of Choreography at the DAS Graduate School in Amsterdam, and is about to present his new work, ASSEMBLAGE #1, as part of his Housemate residency at Dancehouse. Whoever has seen the Trilogy series – described as “a suite of visceral eviscerating works” of searing minimalism – would find it hard to imagine that, as a teenager, Matthew was a ballroom dancing champion.

Audrey Schmidt is a writer, curator and editor of contemporary art publication Dissect Journal. Her continuing research focuses on contemporary art, gender, biopolitics and identity in late capitalism, and her writing about Australian queer art has underpinned this series.

“I feel like – forget theory for a minute – I feel like, hanging out with my queers, that’s where I learn. I didn’t learn this stuff from reading books. My queer education was on the street – it was in bars, it was organising, it was going to buy beer, and squatting places, and putting on parties, and fucking up, and getting lessons, you know? For me, it’s messy, it’s always been messy, it’s never been binary. And embrace that mess, you know?”
– Matthew Day

SARAH-JANE NORMAN / HOW DANCE OCCUPIES THE SELF

“We talk a lot about white guilt, and it is a real phenomenon. … That guilt is kind of like the wages of privilege. But I’m interested in reframing it through my work, not as guilt, but as shame. Which is a different thing. It is a profoundly different thing.”
– Sarah-Jane Norman

In the fourth episode of season three, we discuss the politically explosive work of Sarah Jane Norman, Aboriginal Australian, queer, non-binary, cross-disciplinary artist.

SJ’s whole body of work traverses performance, installation, sculpture, text, video, and sound; it is anchored in a multitude of physical disciplines, as well as the written language. SJ has presented their work at Venice International Performance Week, Spill Festival of Live Art, Fierce Festival, In Between Time, Edinburgh Festival, as well as Performance Space, Next Wave, the Australian Experimental Art Foundation, and Brisbane International Festival. A proud Indigenous Australian of both Wiradjuri and European heritage, SJ grew up in Sydney and regional NSW, but today divides their time between Australia and Berlin. Most recently, SJ Norman was one of the artists In Residence with Marina Abramovic in Sydney, and has presented their Unsettling Suite at Melbourne Festival, as part of Dancehouse’s Dance Territories program. Looking through their rich body of work, we discuss inheritance of history, continuing transgenerational trauma, and the value of dissecting the effects of the politics of colonization with the artist’s body today.

“It’s a huge amount of emotional labour that I have to do on a daily basis, not just as an artist, but as a person. But, you know, it’s the same kind of emotional labour that every person of colour or Indigenous person has to do, living in a white-dominated society. That is invisible labour. Part of my practice is to make it visible. And to make it clear, the imbalance that exists in the cultural expectations, that we’re the only ones who have to do it, and that we’re the only ones who have to carry and hold back history.”
– Sarah-Jane Norman