J U N C T I O N Arts Festival- An Interview with Creative Director Greg Clarke by Ainslie Macaulay

Image: Artist Medhanit Barratt, in  Breathtaking . Photograph by Jacob Collings.

Image: Artist Medhanit Barratt, in Breathtaking. Photograph by Jacob Collings.

Situate Art in Festivals is thrilled to have Junction on board as a Festival Partner! With the program kicking off on the 5th of September, no doubt Launceston is gearing up to some exciting events. What are some of your top picks?

 My top picks are four very special collaborations that shouldn’t be missed; Journey of the Free Words - a three-part theatrical music odyssey written by Nathan Maynard and featuring the wonderful Denni Proctor; Breathtaking - staged inside Launceston’s oldest Church, will see three extraordinary Tasmanian singers stun audiences with the sheer beauty and power of their remarkable voices; Roundabout - Launceston’s Devil State Derby League, Launceston College dance students and the Allstar Cheer and Dance Tasmania come together in a dance, music and roller disco spectacular around Prince’s Square’s stunning Val d’Osne Fountain; and Nitty Gritty: True Stories told by Humans- a powerful community event based on authenticity, commitment and trust between the local storytellers and the audience. 

2. Junction works with multiple organisations and groups that support both emerging and established artists. What role do you think festivals like Junction play in community and public space?

Junction has a seven-year tradition of developing, commissioning, curating and presenting participatory and community engaged contemporary artwork in non-traditional art spaces throughout Launceston. We have worked with many organisations and independent artists over that time providing opportunities for artists working in these areas to connect their work with a broader audience and community.  Since 2017 we have predominantly focused on programming and commissioning the work of Tasmanian independent artists and arts companies across all art forms and disciplines, including a strong live music program, dance, visual arts, poetry and experimental arts. Nearly all of the events in the 2018 program feature work by Tasmanian artists. 

Arts festivals, like Junction, can help develop and showcase the work of contemporary arts practice and increase developmental pathways for emerging artists. They enable artists to test new ideas and develop and present their work to new audiences. Through working with other organisations, Festivals are able to share ideas, resources, encourage networking and best practice, and create further opportunities for artists. Through supporting artists and organisations to also create community-engaged work, Festivals can create long-lasting legacies that celebrate their communities, local stories and cultural history.  

Through site-specific work and events in public spaces, Festivals are able to reach broader new audiences, many of who may not habitually visit galleries and theatres. They can also have the potential to revitalize often forgotten public spaces or spaces that the community may have never visited.

 3. We love that one of the groups you have been working with, is Launceston's very own Devil State Derby League. This work will activate the Val d'sone Fountain in Princes Square. Are there any other sites around Launceston that visitors will see in a different light?

In Stompin Youth Dance Company’s new work ESC. visitors will go on an intimate adventure in the backstage areas of Launceston’s iconic Princess Theatre. At the Workers Club, a totally immersive upside down world of disfigured shapes, installations and mind bending illuminations is being designed and built by Paul Squared (Launceston based visual artists Paul Eggins and Paul Murphy) for our new late night club. 

Junction Arts Festival is on from 5-9 September 2018, Launceston TAS.

PROGRAM: https://www.junctionartsfestival.com.au


A Retrospective with Vocal Womb's Eve Klein by Ainslie Macaulay


Image: Eve Klein in the Barrel Room at Mona Foma (2018), photographed by Amanda Laver.

1. Eve Klein, a big congratulations to you, for the world premiere of your project Vocal Womb at Mona Foma 2018!  The work was so well received and pushes barriers in a multitude of ways. This success comes from your exceptionally well-considered concepts paired with your dedication to nutting out some rather tricky components.  You also seem to have quite the stellar team in Queensland, with your partner Ravi and baby daughter Octavia contributing to the project in their own special ways. How was the creative process in the latter stages of the work?

Thanks for the comments! Everyone involved with Vocal Womb is thrilled at its reception coming out of MONA FOMA especially given the complexity of the work’s development.

The creative process in the latter stages was multifaceted and filled with lots of troubleshooting as we negotiated managing integration of the technical components and brought the work into its site, the Barrel Room at MONA. I was developing aspects of the composition, performance staging, costuming and the mixing control interface while Ravi was developing the control interface, video projections, visualisations of the live audio feeds, and integration with site AV equipment. Octavia, our baby daughter was five months old when we staged Vocal Womb at MONA FOMA so in the midst of the final push to present the work we were also new parents learning how to do all of the things a baby needs. Octavia contributed baby smiles and I sampled her sounds for the Vocal Womb composition.

We had an intensive week setting up and rehearsing in the Barrel Room before the festival commenced. My co-performer AnA Wojak and I spent considerable time refining the performance gestures which were best for safely deploying the medical devices in the show. The final stages of the creative process required a lot of energy but were extremely rewarding as we could see that the work was coming together as we’d imagined.

2. It has been a couple of months since your vocal chords rested, in that type of context. Now that you can look back and see yourself in the space of MONA's barrel room, with full capacity for each session, what were your golden moments?

I had been working with the endoscope for some time to prepare for Vocal Womb so I became comfortable viewing the inside of my body. During the performances I was able to watch the fascination, sometimes wonder, sometimes aversion to this pink, alien landscape inside me as many audience members encountered this view of the human body for the first time. All of our shows were full with people crammed close to one-another and I was also astounded by the hushed silence over the space while I was singing. Our audience members were also very reflective and it’s clear from chatting with them that the themes underlying the work--the power relationships embedded in who gets to possess a ‘voice’ in human culture and how its expressed--were understood and felt by our audience members.

On a lighter note wearing glorious 18th Century undergarments and promenading through the MONA FOMA crowds with AnA was huge amounts of fun.  

3. Vocal Womb was one of the projects you developed through the 2016 SITUATE Arts Lab. Did the year or two in between the Lab and Mona Foma influence how the project changed in any way?

 I had the initial concept for Vocal Womb on the very first day of the Arts Lab and refined it into a formal project pitch after the lab concluded. It took two years exactly to realise as a work, mostly because it was difficult to access and finance the medical equipment necessary for the performance. Initially the work was going to be staged as a 5-10-minute performance in a purpose-built astronomy dome as an intimate experience for about 6 people at a time. It wasn’t possible to build this structure while funding the endoscope. Given that MONA had the Barrel Room—a dark, resonate space which smells of port wine—we could create a similar kind of effect for a much bigger audience. I made the show longer as a consequence and this also gave me the opportunity to compose two longer-form arias.  Despite the change in scale, the themes and feel of the work remained the same.

4How did the work (and yourself) respond to the space and vice versa during the performances?

Conventional opera performance occurs in proscenium-style theatre spaces where the stage provides a metaphorical and literal distance from your audience. The Barrel Room is highly resonant and dark space resembling an underground cathedral. The air is chilled, moist and fragrant because the wine barrels maturing inside must be misted so the wine can develop properly. When you enter this space, your body undergoes a sensory shift.

Added to this, the size and responsiveness of the audience contribute strong atmospherics which I used to shape my musical performances. The audience is physically close at all times. To get to the stage AnA and I had to squeeze through crowds cuing outside and in the venue. The space was lit only from projection screens which showed my body and the images from the scope, and this light made it was easy to see every individual’s reaction to my singing and the images coming from the scope—as a consequence each show was subtly different based upon this contact. The changing sensory nature of the performances and audience responses impacted upon my body’s physical reactions, which were projected back into the space creating a kind-of feedback loop between the environment and my performance. This was central to the intimacy of the experience.

5. I was fortunate to be in the audience for one of your sessions and there was a moment when I wondered what you were thinking as you were singing. Were you a few steps ahead in your mind, or did it get to a stage where things just happened automatically?

 During conventional performances, opera singing is a precarious balance of singing, acting, and movement. It takes your whole body to produce a sonorous vocal and requires all of your concentration to do this while committing to the performance of a character. In Vocal Womb, Inserting the endoscope, and wearing the stethoscopes complicates this process further by putting in physical constraints. To sing and use the scope simultaneously you can’t move your head very much. You have a device inserted through your nasal cavities which means that it is very difficult to feel your bodily resonances, which are used to position and colour an operatic singing voice. Doing the performances was a negotiation. There were moments when I was able to be fully immersed in the texts I was singing and other moments—particularly when the scope wobbled and knocked something in my throat—where my focus shifted to the mechanics of the performance. This kind of medicalised performance entails risk as we are effectively conducting a medical procedure in a non-medical context. Training in device operation, sterilisation, and first aid were used to mitigate this risk but there is still potential that the unexpected could occur and that’s good for keeping your mind in the present!

6. With this first wonderful iteration down, where are you keen to go with things?

Given how overwhelmingly positive the first iteration of Vocal Womb has been we are keen to tour the work both in Australia and internationally. We are currently negotiating some opportunities with festivals and looking for other context where we can show the work as well. There will be an album release of the work in 2019. We are also going to use the technology and processes we developed for Vocal Womb to do more intricate live biomedical vocal performances so stay tuned! Updates will be posted on eveklein.com as we have them. 

Interview: Ainslie Macaulay.

ONESIE WORLD at Vrystaat Arts Festival! by Ainslie Macaulay

Image: Adele Varcoe and a Onesie recipient at Vrystaat Arts Festival (2017). Photograph courtesy of Vrystaat Arts Festival.

Image: Adele Varcoe and a Onesie recipient at Vrystaat Arts Festival (2017). Photograph courtesy of Vrystaat Arts Festival.

1. Adele, you are fresh off the bat from delivering your project Onesie World at the Vrystaat Arts Festival in South Africa. It was a huge success- congratulations! How was it from the driver's seat?

Thank you! It was a great experience. I collaborated with an amazing team of people from all parts of the city. There were plenty of surprises along the way and probably one of the biggest was when I realised that for the project to evolve I had to step out of the drivers seat and let people from Bloemfontein drive for a while. 

2. Onesie World was one of your concept proposals submitted at the end of the SITUATE Arts Lab in 2016. How much has the work evolved since it was just a few ideas on paper?

Working with the local community in Bloemfontein really pushed the project to the next level. Initially the festival was interested in the project as it aimed to bring people together. In a city that is burdened by Apartheid the project became a way to soften cultural boundaries and to work with people from all parts of the city. Collaborating with the community progressed the project and massaged it into something that was designed by the people of Bloemfontein for the people of Bloemfontein.

3. Your collaboration with local makers and performers was a huge component of this first iteration. The SITUATE Research and Development (R&D) phase conducted on site last year seemed to allow for crucial conversations and engagement with collaborators face to face. How important was the R&D prior to the festival in July and how did the work take shape while you were there?

The R&D phase was vital, particularly when working in a new city. During this phase I focused on setting up collaborations with different sewing groups, schools, university’s, musicians, fabric printers etc. It became about connecting with key people who were connected to large groups of people who might be interested in being involved in the project.

4. Was the level of audience engagement what you expected in Bloemfontein? Tell us about some of the ways locals responded to your work.

The level of audience engagement was next level! 650 onesies flew off the racks in less than an hour and there were still hundreds of people waiting for a onesie. It was challenging to negotiate what to do in this situation as it was hard to say no to so many people that had waited so long. Tension began to build and we had to act fast. Off cuts were quickly cut into bandannas and distributed to people in the queue. 

5. What's on for summer and 2018?

It's all systems go with Onesie World reaching new audiences and spaces!

Interview: Ainslie Macaulay.

Studio Visit with Julia Drouhin by Ainslie Macaulay

1.  This is our first snapshot of an Arts Lab artist in their studio and what better way to kick it off in nearby West Hobart! Julia Drouhin, it is a pleasure to be in one of your creative spaces. I say that, in light of the very nature that is public art- often temporal, changing, interactive and site specific, so I appreciate that you have many spaces for creative thought and experimentation. When you are working from this amazing converted wardrobe space, how do you usually occupy your time here?

I usually work at night when my family is asleep. My wardrobe/desk (designed by my mum-in-law Frieda Beukenkamp) is nearly soundproof and will keep the warmth during Tasmanian winter, surrounded by my curiosities cabinet. My favourite object is a Holmes stereoscope from the 1850's that view two women in a bath in 3D. Depending on the project, I start either by listening to my field recordings to make a new radio piece on my computer or read/reply to the ocean of emails, if I'm not procrastinating. I'm used to preparing my projects by distance but I want to spend some time on site to test things if I can, as the final result is often not what was expected, considering the unpredictable aspect of public space. After 4 months travelling with my family, I can finally digest the vast horizons we travelled through, now cosy in my wardrobe. This tiny office is great to focus on writing or composing music but not big enough to make objects. I also like to make collage or textile objects or just test new ideas. The ideas come usually during outdoor movement- it could be few words on a window, the colour or position of an object, or something that my kids say.

2. You have quite a few things on the go at the moment and since the 2016 Arts Lab, you’ve been involved in a number of collaborative projects in particular. Did the Arts Lab challenge your creative practice or ignite new considerations that have since led you to where you are now?

SITUATE Arts Lab 2016 provided me a precious time and space to get more confident about my practice, discover new methodologies and explore non-material ideas. Our intentions were questioned by the provocateurs who were caring but pushing us out of our comfort zone. They shared with us their skills and advice from their own experiences. Situations of immediate collaborations with other artists were created to test our limits and generate frictions between our various personalities and backgrounds. Having an opportunity to discuss with other art practitioners and produce projects together was also a unique chance to build long-term relationships, critical sessions and networks. I really enjoyed working with Tom Blake on our ‘Biggest pot plant in the world’ and I think we will work together again in the future. Since the Arts Lab, I work closely with Harriet Gillies on a project about evaporating women. I've always included collaborative process in my practice but SITUATE Arts Lab confirmed my desire to work with other artists. In May, fellow Tasmanian artist Pip Stafford and I launched Sisters Akousmatica at Long Play in Melbourne with a cassette and digital playlist launch with live performances. 

3. One of the SITUATE projects you pitched to our Partner Festivals is titled A.I.R. (Altitude Immersive Radio) which draws on elements of your Ph.D studies about the art of walking and radio performances. Both traditional forms of experiencing place and narrative, they make a perfect duo. What do you love about these components of A.I.R?

I encourage dialogue between performers and listeners to examine the potential fertility of embodiment in radiophonic projects. I realise that my practice is illustrating retrospectively my Ph.D. When I finished it in Paris in 2011, my projects were not yet totally dedicated to radiophonic walks. I feel that being away from what I knew and welcomed by the Tasmanian art community helped me to achieve my dreams. I love trying things I've never done before, getting lost in unknown landscapes, drawing subjective maps, dressing up, gathering groups of people who don't know each other. 

My project A.I.R. (Altitude Immersive Radio) is  one example of my project. It is a participatory performance in public space based on a radio broadcast made by young writers from Tasmania and South Africa featuring a script inspired by keywords seen in Bloemfontein’s streets ("Lost Lover"). The collaboration and exchange between writers from both countries will be materialized in a Radioactive printed book and launched during Vrystaat Arts Festival in July 2018 in Bloemfontein, South Africa, along with a slow walk through the city with community participants. They will wear conductive costumes made locally and will use wind-up radios with balloons as antennas to create a cloud of transmission, an agoradio, and a forest of voices in the radio wilderness.

4. Your Research and Development trip to South Africa in December last year provided an ideal platform for you to engage with local makers, writers and musicians, as well as with the University of the Free State and PIAD (Program for Innovation in Artform Development). How does the local community, in this case, Bloemfontein, influence the process and potential outcome of your project (A.I.R.)?

It was the first time I visited South Africa. When I arrived at the airport, I saw a random balloon released in the air with a message attached to it. I took it as a positive sign! I noticed a strong airwave theme in the public space there. "Air time", which means Internet credit and phone connection but not radio transmission. I would like to engage a dialogue through a new “air time” to be occupied by local voices. 

When I gave an artist talk for Sound Threads organised by PIAD and run a DIY FM transmitter workshop, I met local makers and thinkers, as well as the Vrystaat Festival team, who gave me advice on streets permits and local procedure. We did a photo-shoot while scoping adapted public spaces. When I was walking in the streets to get some fabrics, I met Selloane Khalane, an art journalist and Pontsho Disela, a costume designer, who I will work with on the A.I.R. project. Her brand Pontsho Accessories sells “regal African fabric print accessories made for the modern woman who adores herself”. She will make conductive costumes with local wax fabric, cords and conductive material for the walkers to extend their balloon antennas reception and interfere with each other and electromagnetic fields in the city. 

I met Maritsa Barlow, a freelance percussionist and poet Thuthukani Ndlovu (The Proactivist) with who I will collaborate to create content for my radio script.

I met a local radio station director. I tried my radio balloons in an helium shop but the inflatable sea mattress I wanted to use didn't work because the plastic was too heavy, so I used biodegradable latex round balloons instead. 

A.I.R. (Altitude Immersive Radio) would be a unique opportunity to work in a festival context with multiple partners and a broader audience to confront my previous experiences through new collaborations. In this segregated city where 11 official languages are spoken, my project could facilitate a cross-city engagement with citizens of different racial and language groups separated not only economically but also geographically, coming together to help develop social cohesion. There is a great opportunity to develop sound works that speak of the diversity of this city. In Bloemfontein there is no sound art or experimental music scene as understood through a Western perspective, but there is a very active and vibrant poetry, spoken-word, open-mic community who share and discuss social and politic issues. In a post-apartheid time, the racial tension is very palpable from all sides but I had fundamental debate with people from various cultural backgrounds to further understand the social friction that exists there. There is no social security, I saw kids like mine on the roadside trying to sell fresh fruits to cars at the speed bumps. This project could develop national and international collaborations and partnerships, and engage young people in the creation of a collective and public artwork. 

5. What does the rest of 2017 entail, leading up to Vrystaat Arts Festival in 2018?

I'm applying for grants and seeking partnerships to finance and develop this community project. As a culturally diverse language speaker, I am more and more interested in the analysis of local communication. This year, I will work with young writers of Tasmania and South Africa to develop a collaborative book with Thutukani Ndovlu. He runs a blog called "Radioactive" where he publishes independent poetry anthologies and digital books via call-out to young writers. He will co-produce a Radioactive book with me on the following theme: "Lost Lover". This was inspired by posters covering walls of streets in Bloemfontein with keywords such as “ Financial Problems”, “Man Power”, "Penis Enlargement", 'Abortion, Safe, Pain Free, Same time", “Pregnancy Problems”, printed with bright pink or blue letters of the same font. The radio walk broadcast will release chosen extracts of the Radioactive book with the balloons at the end of the walk during Vrystaat Arts Festival 2018. The printed Radioactive book will be presented during my first solo show at Penny Contemporary Gallery in Tasmania in 2018.

Interview & Images: Ainslie Macaulay.

Recently, Julia Drouhin and all that inspires her, was captured by Women of the Island. Watch here:





A Chat with Vrystaat Director, Ricardo Peach by Ainslie Macaulay

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Since the last Vrystaat Kunstefees Arts Festival, so much has happened! Tell us about all that’s been happening in Bloemfontein in the lead up to the next festival in July.

The Vrystaat Arts Festival continues to forge creative connections with local, national
and international practitioners. This year we have collaborators, writers and co-producers from as far away as Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Iran, Italy, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Romania, the UK and the US. Interest globally in what we are doing is growing rapidly.

What is even more exciting for us is that for the first time we have artists from our near neighbours Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe as part of the festival and our inaugural Pan-African Creative Exchange (PACE) Teaser. This precursor will grow into a full PACE 2018 so thatthose visiting us can experience the enormous creative talents of our continent.

We are privileged to have several First Nations activists from around the world helping us to develop protocols for the festival linked to contemporary KhoiSan cultures. Some of this First Nation work will happen around the SITUATE Art in Festivals supported Giidanyba (Sky Beings) at Oliewenhuis National Art Museum by Tyrone Sheather, a Gumbaynggirr artist from the mid-north coast of New South Wales. This is incredibly exciting - as we are launching the 2017 festival for the first time with a First Nations ceremony.

SITUATE Art in Festivals’ artists such as Tyrone - and others like Cigdem Aydemir (Plastic Histories, 2014), Jess Olivieri (White Horse, 2015), Adele Varcoe (Onesie World, 2017) and Julia Drouhin (Radioactive Lost Lover Book, 2017 and A.I.R[Altitude Immersive Radio], 2018) are key to the success of our festival. They offer a new perspective on our region and their collaborations with local artists ensure a deep cultural exchange between our two countries.

In 2017 we launch South Africa’s first Arts and Health Programme in partnership with DADAA (Disability in the Arts, Disadvantage in the Arts) in Western Australia and the University
of the Free State. This will be a game changer for Community Arts and Cultural
Development (CACD) and health here and will impact significantly in our region over
the next few years.

Our new Vrystaat Literature Festival, in one year, has turned into one of the jewels for writers in South Africa. 2017 sees an expanded offering bringing incredibly vibrant creatives to our city from all corners of the world. More than 110 writers are participating in this year’s literary discussions.

Only in its second year, the vrynge has grown into an essential platform for artists from all levels of practice to explore their creative talent. From newcomers to professionals testing work in progress (both national and international), this is the place to be if you want a taste of the future. And we invite anyone to come to South Africa and participate in our vrynge - just shoot us an email.

Large scale public and site specific art through the Programme for Innovation in Artform Development (PIAD), Public Art Project (PAP) and Vrywees, is a major growth area - in part due to SITUATE Art in Festivals. Onesie World by Adele in partnership with local fashion designers and musicians will be a key project, where 1000 onesies will be given out to the public. No one should miss out wearing this once in a lifetime piece of history!

Environmental regeneration and ‘postnatural’ building forms part of another key festival project, Seven Stage Futures, with Dr Keith Armstrong, Qala Phelang Thala and local change agents. Several events will take place around Mangaung’s informal settlements exploring how we can help our region’s communities become not just sustainable, but regenerative.

We are thrilled that both Adele and Tyrone will be there in July. As you know, they are two of our wonderfully talented SITUATE Arts Lab artists. Their projects are very different but both have so much potential to engage the local community on a number of levels. What aspects are you particularly excited about with Adele’s Onesie World and Tyrone’s GIIDANYBA?

Giidanyba (Sky Beings) consists of seven figure-like sculptures, depicting nocturnal
spirits that impart knowledge and guidance to the Gumbaynggirr people. Tyrone explains: “In the Dreaming (Yuludarla), the Hero-Ancestors made and transformed the landscape with their special powers of creation and destruction. Simulating a Gumbaynggirr rite of passage, Giidanyba symbolises these Spiritual Ancestors, as they descend from the Muurrbay Bundani (tree of life) in the sky, to support people throughout their cultural journey and to guide them into the next stage of their lives.”

Giidanyba will be presented as part of the First Nations project through the PIAD, in partnership with the University of the Free State (with support from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation), SITUATEArt in Festivals, Salamanca Arts Centre and Oliewenhuis. There will be a ceremony with South African First Nation KhoiSan communities - which I think will be incredibly powerful. Contemporary art practices from two of the worlds oldest living cultures together in Bloemfontein. This to me is extraordinary - and I am very proud the PIAD and the festival can be part of this.

In Adele’s Onesie World,  a 1,000 onesies will be made by fashion students and manufacturers in Bloemfontein and festival goers will be invited to wear them for the duration of festivities. A team of local musicians will perform in a sewing machine orchestra as well as a dance group developing a Onesie dance.

This project, the 2017 signature project of the PIAD and festival, will surprise us all I think. It has the potential to bring people from very different backgrounds together in an informal, fun way, but with major, positive social outcomes. In a city still very much divided geographically according to race, opportunities like these, where people can meet across these boundaries, are rare and vital.

 SITUATE was honoured to support Adele’s Research and Development trip to Bloemfontein in February, which opened up a number of considerations and collaborative opportunities. This will be the first iteration of Onesie World. How do you think this time helped shape, or refine Adele’s project?

I think its essential for an artist to understand the environment in which their work functions. Particularly work that requires social engagement and community participation. Adele’s visit to Bloemfontein was importantfor the development of Onesie World because it helped her to see and ‘feel’ the sites in which the work will be ‘performed’. There is a kind of energetic experience that artists have when they experience a spaceI believe - often unconscious. Its this experience which helps them plan their work and can often mean the difference between a work that is ok vs a work that is brilliant.

Apart from Adele understanding the context of Bloemfontein, it was very valuable for local artists and makers to meet her and share with her their knowledge, as well as learning from her about her practice. This dual capacity development/mutual exchange is one of the richest experiences a research and development/residency period can offer. No amount of offshore planning can replace this hands on meet-and-greet and networking.

Unfortunately, some of us will be unable to cross the Indian Ocean for Vrystaat this year, although we will be following closely on social media. What are a few words you feel mirror this year’s program?

Buy a ticket and come visit us!! Its not that expensive and we have fabulous food, wine and warm fires for spark conversations and new friendships.  Then you can experience the incredible diversity of our program.

Although we are an Afrikaans language festival, which support and grows Afrikaans culture, due to the success of our Afrikaans productions, we are also able to support projects and productions in other languages - in particular English and Sesotho, but increasingly also Setswana, isiXhosa and Zulu.

This includes theatre, music, poetry, literature, visual arts, live art, dance and new, experimental work.

There is something for everyone - so just get yourselves here!

Interview: A. Macaulay. Image Credit: Adele Varcoe's R&D for 'Onesie World', photographed by Xany Jansen van Vuuren.

S I T U A T E Welcomes Emma Porteus as Executive Producer! by Ainslie Macaulay


Emma Porteus, we are very excited and fortunate to have you on board as the new SITUATE Art in Festivals Executive Producer! Welcome! Tell us what has led you here.

Thank you!! I'm thrilled to be here! I am a dance maker by trade, and for the last six years I've been the Artistic Director of Stompin in Launceston.  I was a dancer with Stompin in my early years, and this experience inspired a passion for collaborative, site specific art making practice. I then went off to study dance and performance making at Rusden/Deakin in Melbourne.   I have always been really drawn to making art that engages with community, so after I finished my honours year, I moved back to Tasmania to work within the community I've known all my life. 

In the last 13 years I have worked for a variety of festivals and arts organisations, as an Artist, Producer, Director and Program Manager. From 2006 to 2009 I led the education arm of Tasdance and in 2010 I became Artistic Director of Stompin. In 2014 I was selected as one of four Tasmanian's to be mentored as a Creative Producer as part of the Producing Cultural Leaders Program, and in 2015 I received the Regional Arts Australia International Professional Development Fellowship.  When I look back at my career so far, I see two clear themes emerging:  I've either been focused on making my own art, or helping other people make their art.  Situate draws on all these skills; it is a dream role and I'm really excited to grow the National and International significance of this vital program.

 Among many other things, you've had some time in Finland with ANTI Festival. What did this entail?

ANTI in Finland was the first stop on on my two month European fellowship in 2015.  Internationally, ANTI is renowned as one of the world’s leading site-specific arts festivals and it was a vehicle to connect me with innovative practitioners from all over. I attended the festival as a visiting artist, which was a rare and beautiful luxury!  Because I didn't have the pressure of presenting work, I could fully engage with all ANTI had to offer. I was able to participate in an important and relevant international dialogue on community, artistic practice and cultural exchange.   ANTI is quite a small festival, comparatively, and one of the best things about this is all of the presenting Artists are there with you, as you experience the program.  This means you can have a dialogue with them, right after you have seen their work.  This led to some incredible lasting connections with artists from all over the world that I still maintain today.

What aspects of the SITUATE program appealed to you and how do you see it developing over the next couple of years?

I am deeply passionate about the power of site specific, non-traditional and experimental art practices to make real change. These new and innovative forms of art practice serve to immerse the viewer in the experience. The sort of work that Situate produces is vital in the current climate of austerity and safety, as it scaffolds talented emerging artists to take risks and dream big.  In doing this, these artists can create work that can make real change and activate audiences in new and exciting ways.  I'm really interested in growing the international footprint of the program, as well as looking at the possibility of of holding an Arts Lab every year as, opposed to every second year.  I also want to increase the amount of Situate project proposals that get fully realised by festivals.

SITUATE has recently taken on another Tasmanian-based Festival Partner in Queenstown's the Unconformity. What's your vision in terms of SITUATE working with communities and fostering creative partnerships in the lead up to a major festival such as the Unconformity?

 I love the idea of increasing the engagement of artists with communities, and communities with art.  Festivals like The Unconformity are a vital platform to allow this to happen, because of their commitment to the exploring the relationship that communities can have with the art making process. The Unconformity seeks to change community perceptions and characteristics through the transformative power of the arts, and this is an exciting brief for our Situate artists.

Some of the concept proposals that have come out of both SITUATE Arts Labs have challenged the more conventional notions of public art. How can artists, who are taking risks, be supported through their artistic process and the commissioning stage?

 The SITUATE program excels at encouraging and supporting artists to take risks.   We support the artist as they develop their concept, and we provoke and stimulate their thinking in new and exciting ways.  We then ‘match make’ them with right festival, who commissions a research and development stage, and then the final art work. Our mentors and provocateurs assist the artist through all stages of an artworks’ lifecycle, from concept to realisation.

Later this year, SITUATE Art in Festivals will ask for expressions of interest for our next 2018 Arts lab participants. What are some of the things you'll be looking for?

The participants are chosen by a National curatorium of established artists from diverse backgrounds and practices.  They are looking for early career artists with an interesting practice and a fresh voice.  They are also looking for people with a desire to collaborate and engage with audiences in new and innovative ways.


Interview & Photograph by A. Macaulay.