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Editorial - RT69

Melbourne International Arts Festival. Go!

Artistic Director Kristy Edmunds’ programming for her first Melbourne Festival, due to commence October 6, looks wonderfully adventurous. Not only does Edmunds sustain Robyn Archer’s commitment to featuring Melbourne artists (this year it’s Malthouse, Paul Grabowsky, Cuocolo/Bosetti, Back to Back Theatre, Chunky Move, Bruce Mowson, La Mama, Brian Lipson, Shelly Lasica, Red Stitch Actors Theatre, Rebecca Hilton, Uncle Semolina & Friends and Aphids), but she also makes bold programming moves on the international front that give the festival a distinctive, contemporary performance personality.

The works are from artists who transform our sense of time and space, who offer new possibities in performance and who will entertain, irritate and exhilarate. Largely from the UK, Japan and the USA they are: Saburo Teshigawara (Japan, whose sublime work the RealTime team revelled in at LIFT97 in London), Forced Entertainment (UK, wickedly funny, radical highlight of the 2004 Adelaide Festival), Lone Twin (UK, live art heroes), Ryoji Ikeda (Japan, creator of deeply immersive electronic art), Richard Maxwell’s New York City Players (a unique theatrical mini-cosmos), Shin Wei Dance Arts (NY, a hit at the 2004 Sydney Festival) and Ann Bogart’s SITI Company (USA, founded in 1992 with Suzuki Tadashi).

In this edition Chris Kohn (of Stuck Pigs Squealing Theatre) interviews Richard Maxwell in New York; Bruce Gladwin talks about Back to Back’s exploration of sound and space, which has led the company to perform in the Flinders Street Railway Station; and David Young reflects on where his Melbourne Festival work, Thousands of Bundled Straw for the Libra Ensemble, is positioned in his life as a composer and a director of the globe-trotting Aphids.

Process and structure

A recurring theme in this edition is the evolving strategies employed by artists in putting works together: Back to Back and Aphids reflect on chance and vision in the evolution of their work, but also on where they’re likely to go next. Antje Pfundtner, a visiting German dancer and choreographer describes the accidents of life, career and success and how they effect her process. Richard Maxwell talks about writing, casting (of performers trained or not) and the subsequent re-framing of his vision. Brisbane’s Colourised Festival of Indigenous film re-works the form of the film festival and the latest RealTime-Performance Space artist’s forum envisages a new breed of creative producers to help artists, increasingly weighed down with administration and company structures, to realise their visions.


Innovators in new media arts, performance, photomedia and dance have excelled in recent award announcements. Congratulations to new media artist Melinda Rackham on her appointment as the Executive Officer of ANAT (Australian Network of Art and Technology) in Adelaide, and to her predecessor, Julianne Pierce for being selected earlier this year to curate the 2006 Adelaide Festival Biennale of Visual Art. Amanda McDonald-Crowley, Pierce’s predecessor before she moved to Europe to co-direct ISEA 2004, has been appointed to another internationally significant new media arts position, the directorship of Eyebeam in New York. The renovated facility includes a 5,000 square foot main gallery, new production and education studios, labs, editing suites, prototyping galleries, administrative offices, a flounge/events space, a bookstore and 17 staff.

The $40,000 NSW Helen Lempriere Travelling Fellowship has been awarded this year to Ms & Mr (Richard and Stephanie Nova Milne) for their The Woman Who Mistook Her Husband for Art a witty work about oneness and technology, comprising sound, sculpture, performance and video projected onto a levitating organ. Both College of Fine Arts graduates, the couple propose to take part in a 12-month research residency at the Rijksakademie in The Netherlands, an institution encouraging the kinds of cross-media practices they fancy. Amsterdam is also the place where Marina Abramovic famously ran into Ulay, her partner in life and art and they began their ‘Relation Works’. Two years later they tied themselves together by their hair for 17 hours.

The rich legacy of experimentalist Rex Cramphorn lives on in the biennial Cramphorn Theatre Scholarships ($30,000) awarded this year to performer, director and dramaturg, Nikki Heywood who is undertaking a professional development program in Cork, Zurich, Berlin, Brussels, Prague and Venice, focussing on methods of collaborative performance practice. A key element of her program includes an intensive workshop in Cork with Chicago-based group Goat Island, and attending the Venice Biennale’s 37th International Theatre Festival directed by the man of the theatrical moment, Romeo Castelluci.

Dancer, choreographer and filmmaker Narelle Benjamin, whose most recent work was admired in these pages (RT68, p40) won the Hephzibah Tintner ($40,000) which she will use towards making dance films including one at AFTRS. Cover artist for RealTime 68, photographer Cherine Fahd, was awarded the 2005 NSW Women and Arts Fellowship ($30,000) with which she will make Sleepless, a participatory documentation of the lives of the homeless in Sydney’s Kings Cross.

Fine residency offer

Here’s a generous gesture from a popular home away from home for many artists. Regents Court Hotel in Kings Cross has initiated a Writer/Artist in Residence Program offering a studio apartment for 3-12 weeks for local or international writers and artists who’d like to have some dedicated working time in one of Sydney’s most comfortable boutique hotels (

Congratulations to performance duo Mirabelle Wouters and Lee Wilson (Branch Nebula) on the birth of baby Ubu and to Nick Wishart and Imogen Ross on the birth of baby Curtis. KG, VB

RealTime issue #69 Oct-Nov 2005 pg. 1

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