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“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