Khan says that experimental work that is sometimes considered difficult for audiences, or taking a leap into the unknown, is a huge benefit of participating in the festival.
“Experimental art is where the most interesting things happen, where you try something new,” he says. “Basically, it’s about artists innovating their art forms, experimenting with their medium, pushing it in a way they haven’t done before.”
“Add the buzz of a busy lobby, friends and returning art community, it’s an incredible environment.”
Dance artist Amrita Happy, whose 60-minute solo work Wash it off explores the romance of beginnings “and what will happen next”, strives for the audience to get lost in the work.
“Wash it off looks at personal beginnings and also tries to touch on more universal ones,” she says. “When did this country as we know it really begin? What happens after starting a relationship or falling in love? What elements or atoms form and start the Earth as we know it?
“These questions might seem pretty big to explore in a dance piece, but I think dance has a way of making something clear or obvious without over-explaining.”
“Dance has a way of making something clear or obvious without over-explaining.”
Dance artist Amrita Happy
Happy addressed several recent life transitions, including the death of her father, an interstate move, and the end of a long-term relationship.
“Evaluating or dealing with the reality of my ‘goals’ I tried to establish or remember how it started, what was left and how do I start again?” she says. “I don’t think there will ever be a clean break.”
Another dance piece, God’s stupidityby Australian-Indian artist Raghav Khanda, uses Sanskrit verses from Bhagavad Gitaa Hindu text of 700 verses that influenced both Mahatma Gandhi and SS chief Heinrich Himmler.
“We’re looking at how language can be used as a form of weapon,” says Handa. “And how it has historically been used by individuals and groups to inspire or subjugate.”
God’s stupiditycreated with sound artist James Brown, shows Handa performing with a tire crane weighing more than 250 kg.
“I stand on top of it,” he says. “I’m under him, I’m dancing with him. So the stakes are high, the risk is real, the consequences are real. And that is what makes this piece compelling.
“It is an embodied study of the temptation of violence, where we face our own struggle for self-control amidst the temptation of violence and the temptation of power over others.”
A third of Liveworks The program, which also includes artist collectives BoneDirt and Field Theory, musician and composer John Rose, three nights of experimental works in progress and a 12-hour queer-immersive dance party, is presented digitally.
“After presenting online work while adjusting, we received feedback that people with disabilities often find it safer and more enjoyable to work digitally,” says Hahn. “And for digital artists like Sophie Penketman-Young, it recognizes the uniqueness of their practice.”
The work of Penketman-Young, In progress: Waiting waitingwhich is broadcast live to a home computer audience, was inspired by the prevalence of loading bars and digital icons in apps or on the web to indicate action.
“They are everywhere,” she says. “Apple Watch rings, period trackers, sleep apps, meditation apps. I don’t think I know my own body without a weight bar.”
Idea for In progress: Waiting waitingwhich runs through Saturdays, originated two years ago when Penketman-Young was watching animated graphics for a food delivery app.
“Experimental work is where the art of the future is made, where the artists of the future … push culture forward.”
Performance Space Artistic Director Jeff Hahn
“I was struck by how much they enchant something evil,” she says. “I felt that they were trying to associate me with a fake means of production. Instead of seeing a chef behind me preparing my food, I had this graphic that let me know it was being done.”
Penketman-Young says that icons and download bars, originally invented to appease frustrated computer users, are now commoditizing work.
“Now we’ve got it back on us,” she says. “Does our job exist without a loading bar?”
Liveworks the program, which began with a three-hour concert featuring experimental pop artists Rainbow Chan and Sui Zhen, will conclude with another free music event, Closing soundsled by atmospheric music performers Hako and Lisa Lerkenfeld.
Khan says the festival, now in its eighth year, is a place to meet performers, choreographers, artists and thinkers who are creating without limits or before they move on to bigger venues and festivals.
“Experimental work is where the art of the future is made, where the artists of the future create their practices and push the culture forward,” he says.
“It’s a laboratory, a space to try something new, both for the artists and for the audience. It’s for the bold and adventurous.”