Liveworks 2020

Things to do, Fairs and festivals
A burned warrior-like bust wearing a headdress rests on a rock in a fiery apocalypse
Photograph: Supplied, artist Tristian Jallah Performance artist Justin Shoulder fuses myth, puppetry and queer pageantry in Aeon† Episode I

Time Out says

Lockdown couldn't stop this awesome, out-there experimental art party

Performance Space rode through a mighty wobble this year alongside the rest of the Carriageworks tenants when the cultural precinct located in the former Eveleigh Railway Workshops came close to closing. Even then, Performance Space artistic director Jeff Khan remained hopeful the company would find a way to present its electric, boundary-smashing showcase of experimental art Liveworks, musing back in May: “Artists are really well-positioned to explore what these new social relationships might be… and how we can use different forms of gathering as a kind of creative opportunity to rethink who we are and what we mean to each other.”

Flash forward a few months and not only is Carriageworks back in business, but Liveworks 2020 is also go. There’s a ridiculous amount of awesome on offer. Mixing roughly half each of socially spaced IRL events at the Redfern arts hub with a suite of digital happenings, Khan, the festival and the creatives involved have embraced the new normal with a best of both worlds approach.  

The program is split into three streams. Live Now presents full-scale works good to stream online or take in in person at Carriageworks. Live Futures is a series of panel discussions, and Live Dreams offers a sneaky peek at the next big things/works in progress.

“It seemed urgent and important that we move ahead with a reshaped version of Liveworks this year to create a safe, welcoming and revitalising space for audiences and communities,” Khan says. “We are also acutely aware that there are many artists whose worlds have collapsed due to the [lockdown]. They have had to reimagine the way they work and sometimes completely reinvent their arts practice. So, moving ahead with this festival was especially important for us to give those artists a platform.”

What can we see at Carriageworks?

Sydney-based theatre maker Yana Taylor’s Leading is Following is Leading asks what makes for a strong leader? Inspired by archival footage of political leaders from Robert Menzies to Julia Gillard, the performance piece features the magnificent Moreblessing Maturure and Valerie Berry (Oct 21-25).

Nganggurnmanha: Sound Dust is an audio-driven experience designed by Yamaji Wajarri, Dutch and English artist Nicole Monks and Sydney-based collective Make or Break. It means ‘listening, hearing, thinking, remembering,’ in Wajarri language and explore a First Nations perspective on time (Oct 21-25).

Eco-punk Australian artist Cat Jones’ installation art Medicament For Your Predicament is billed as an ‘experimental pharmacy’, and while that sounds a bit Pete Evans, we’re sure her queer feminist tongue is firmly in cheek as she offers homespun solutions to whatever ails you, with guest appearance every eve of the fest between 6pm-8pm. You can also join in from home with an online version (Oct 21-25).

With a ‘possible nudity’ clause flagged up front, we’re so in for local hero Justin Shoulder’s Aeon†: Episode 1, promising a fusion of Filipinx myth, puppetry and queer pageantry as ceremony.

Sydneysiders cannot get jiggy shoulder-to-sweaty-shoulder on the dance floor right now, but that does not mean that the fabulous queer extravaganza Day for Night is done for. Instead of squishing you into the glistening throng, Stereogamous and a fabulous line-up of queer artists will present a series of immersive experiences to teeny tiny intimate audiences that recall when clubbing was performance art.

What can I stream at home?

Early risers can welcome in every day of the festival with (XXX) at sunset every morn. The live online broadcast is an aural love letter of sorts between First Nations creatives. Koori artist and writer SJ Norman and Cherokee writer and scholar Joseph M Pierce serenade each other with heartfelt words from their respective lockdowns in Sydney and New York.

Sydney choreographer and filmmaker Sue Healey captures four dancers and a musician suitably spaced from way above in drone footage performance Live Action Relay.

Imagined Theatres began life as a book, then morphed into an online journal. It will celebrate its fifth digital edition during Liveworks. It posed the question, “what are your hopes and dreams for the future of the performing arts?” to a bunch of curators, artistic directors and producers, and you mainline their visions.

And to close out the festival for 2020, in Live Futures: Brian Fuata the celebrated multi-disciplinary artist will deliver a keynote address looking back on all the work presented and asking where we’re headed next. For more info on any of these events and way more, adn to book tickets, check out Liveworks on the Performance Space website here.

For more experimental fun, also check the Out of Iso festival. 

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