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