New Support for Indigenous Experimental Art

Art Press Release from Australia. Published by Rebecca Gabrielle Cannon on Tuesday 17 July 2012.

The Australia Council’s inaugural Indigenous Experimental Art Fund grant recipients have been announced and their exciting projects, emerging from dance, performance, music, media and visual arts backgrounds, reflect the thriving diversity of Indigenous arts practice.

The Indigenous Experimental Art Fund is a joint initiative of the Inter-Arts Office and the Music, Theatre and Visual Arts boards of the Australia Council to support the practice of Indigenous artists working experimentally across art forms. The initiative was developed in consultation with the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Board and based on recommendations from Indigenous hybrid and media arts roundtables convened by the Inter-Arts Office.

Jenny Fraser has been funded to coordinate ‘Superhighway across the sky’, an online residency where artists from the Blackout Collective will collaborate with Canadian Indigenous collective Tribe Inc. A new Blackout website will also be created to document the collaborative outcomes and provide a space for Blackout artists to ‘work in a culturally safe environment towards stronger cultural maintenance and representation’. Jenny describes herself as a ‘digital native’ working within a fluid screen-based practice. She established the digital online gallery cyberTribe in 1999 which is a pioneering platform for cutting edge and politically important Indigenous art. Jenny has also recently received a Fellowship from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council to undertake her ‘Midden’ experimental media arts project.

Vicki Van Hout has been working in Indigenous performance for many years; as an actor, dancer and choreograph for prestigious companies including Bangarra Dance Theatre, the Australian Theatre for Young People and Urban Theatre Projects. Vicki’s first major full-length interdisciplinary work Briwyant is touring in 2012 to Performance Space in Sydney, Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne, the Brisbane Powerhouse and Darwin Festival. For her new project Vicki will work with collaborators Rosealee Pearson, Henrietta Baird and Raghav Handa to develop a new interdisciplinary performance piece. The inspiration for this work evolved from insights gained whilst conducting dance workshops with young students from Darwin. She found that often her students’ experience of Indigenous people was limited to those living ‘Long Grass’, a term commonly used in the Northern Territory referring to fringe dwellers living rough. Vicki is interested in exploring the perceptions and realities surrounding the people who live this way and concentrating on the Northern Territory Intervention; which she feels is underrepresented in contemporary performance.

Broken Hill Art Exchange will be developing stage two of the iStreet Lab project. iStreet Lab is the brainchild of Jamaican community and youth engagement activist Mervin Jarmin, and has been running successfully in Broken Hill providing isolated youth access to labs and content creation across varied media and delivery platforms. For the next stage Mervin will be joined by local artist Victor Riley, a song man of the Bakandji tribe. Victor is a twenty year old Hip Hop Artist who has been performing since he was twelve in festivals and events. He is passionate about music production and creating opportunities for his peers to network and build audiences and career pathways in the creative industries. With the support of the local community radio station 2Dry FM Victor and Mervin will use the iStreet Lab to develop working relationships and trust between young artists, community and businesses in far West New South Wales. See more about iStreet Lab at Broken Hill.

See further information about the Indigenous Experimental Art Fund and the assessment meeting report. The fund will also be offered in 2013 and 2014.
Credits: Jenny Fraser ‘Superhighway across the sky’ (menu); Vicki Van Hout, trailer for ‘Briwyant’ production, courtesy the artists, Bonnie Faulkner and Malthouse Theatre; Victor Riley (centre), Adrian Eckert President 2DRY FM Radio Station (left), with Vice President Broken Hill Art Exchange Inc (right), image courtesy the artist and Broken Hill Art Exchange (below).