Liveworks 2020: Festival of Experimental Art

PS-Liveworks-Day-for-Night-2019---photo-by-Jermaine-DeanPresenting new and intriguing developments in art by some of the most inventive artists of our time from Sydney and across Australia, the Performance Space’s annual Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art kicks off this week at Carriageworks and online.

Exploring some of the most challenging issues of our complex times, Liveworks 2020 will be a reimagined festival in response to the uncertainty of the world around us. Blending live performance and digital events, and staged in a socially-distanced setting, artists have been forced to think outside the box. It has resulted in arguably the most inventive, thought-provoking and boundary-pushing Liveworks to-date. Highlights include:

Medicament For Your Predicament
21 – 25 October
This artwork offers practical know-how for our complicated times. Expect an experimental pharmacy offering new approaches to collective and mutual care. Join lead artist Cat Jones to create homespun solutions to your personal and political ailments, however big or small. This artwork draws on Jones’ unique botanic, sensory and social practice and her feminist research into the fields of science and medicine, sharing home remedies and recipes that have been passed down through diverse communities across many generations.

You can get hands-on in the OPEN LAB workshops from the comfort of your own home. In an intimate 3-hour workshop, Jones will guide you through a series of activities to diagnose the issues that have you most ill at ease. Collectively, you will then create a medicament—using ingredients from your own kitchen and a special package of materials sent to you by the artist.

Every day at Carriageworks, you can also visit the OPEN PHARMACY installation – which showcases the medicaments that have been created through the project and offers you quick and dirty prescriptions, amidst the effervescent powder of conversation.

Leading is Following is Leading
21 – 25 October
Beyond policies and promises, what makes you trust certain leaders? What excites or infuriates you about their public appearances, and what conclusions do you reach? This performance work draws on archival footage of political leaders through the decades – from Robert Menzies to Julia Gillard – to which the extraordinary performers sync their own choreographies of gesture, stance and intonation, putting questions of political power – who has it, how they acquire it and how they wield it – under the microscope. What stands out about judgements, microaggressions and ingrained misogyny in our acceptance or rejection of political personas?

Created by Sydney director Yana Taylor (ex-version 1.0) with a small ensemble including Valerie Berry and Moreblessing Maturure, this work is a playful and intimate performance installation event. The jarring gap between live performances and the figures on screen creates room for speculation about the past and space to feel future possibilities of less traditional leaders as our heads of state.

21 – 25 October
This work intends to build a new faith for our fractious era. Deborah Kelly’s extraordinary CREATION project sees the construction of a new belief system to confront the rise of the irrational and its threat to civil society. In a hysterical, but beautiful rebuke to climate denialism, complacency and cowardly leadership, this evolving work calls on collective wisdom to create a passionate life of the spirit for an unfolding epoch. For this work, choreographer Angela Goh has heard the call. Every religion needs a manifesto of movement.

Over five days, join the artists in building a liturgical dance from the ground up, culminating in a public display of devotion. Exclusive to Liveworks, this work is a vital component of this ambitious project. CREATION is being developed around Australia with writers, storytellers, visual artists, musicians and ritual-makers, through the co-creation of songs, manifesto, costumes, moving image works, parables, iconography, dance, mysteries, rituals and believers. Presented by Performance Space and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, this is your chance to contribute to the creation of CREATION!

tiny revolutions
22 – 25 October
Presented by Perth-based art collective PVI, this work is an epic think and do tank of tiny proportions. tiny revolutions is a provocation to develop a climate of resistance that responds to the current social and political crisis brewing. By generating a space for play, this work aims to explore some temporary social change to help us confront the new realities of the present. From climate crisis to rapid tech advancement, minority rights to the patriarchy, tiny revolutions aims to take the overwhelming scale and anxieties of these issues and transform them into bite-sized actions that pack a societal punch.

For this work, members of the public are asked to submit an epic problem, via the tiny revolution’s website. They then connect their problem to one of 15 global challenges and select an intervention tactic for PVI to deploy. Receiving the submissions: the tiny revolutions taskforce, made up of invited artists, industry experts, activists and the public. Each submission is set a 30-minute time limit for the taskforce to dig deep, debate and devise a tiny revolution to be carried out in public.

tiny revolutions has been developed in response to the Millennium Project’s 15 global challenges: a global think-tank on behalf of humanity established by the United Nations in 1996. Comprised of futurists, researchers and policy makers, the Millennium Project holds the largest collection of futures research methodology in the world and formulated their findings into 15 global challenges. tiny revolutions explores the potential for the small to make a big impact and shift our collective anxieties about the future.

Nganggurnmanha: sound dust
21 – 25 October
A collaboration between Yamaji Wajarri, Dutch and English artist Nicole Monks and Sydney-based collective Make or Break (Connie Anthes and Rebecca Gallo). our individual and collective notions of time are always evolving. The word ‘nganggurnmanha’ means ‘listening, hearing, thinking, remembering’ in Wajarri language. This work is an immersive audio installation that challenges us to listen deeply to the natural world and find ways to inhabit time differently.

Responding to First Nations and Western concepts of time, the work is an exploration of how time intertwines with nature, the body, seasonal shifts, and how our time is valued. Drawing from a library of ‘sound dust’ fragments sourced from participants around Australia and the world, it is a responsive installation where the viewer’s movement and presence influences how the work unfolds. This is an alternate archive of now; an invitation to separate your experience of time from notions of productivity, and instead realign it with internal and environmental forces.

21 – 25 October
Broadcast online at sunset each day, this performance ritual centres on a daily exchange of love letters between the Koori artist and writer SJ Norman and Cherokee writer and scholar Joseph M Pierce. Writing from their respective quarantines in Sydney and New York, each artist will read the other’s letter direct-to-camera as the sun sets over their city, every day of Liveworks. The work proposes a queered, decolonial inhabitation of the written form as a space to trace the remote entanglement of two Indigenous people in creative, intimate, and embodied kinship. The artists consider what it means to express Indigenous love in the colonisers’ language.

(XXX) continues a body of work by SJ Norman that maps a vast and growing network of queer, First Nations inter-connectedness spanning continents, cultures, and ancestral temporalities. Speaking to the current disruption of transnational relationships and cultural ties that are a consequence of the current global pandemic, and exploring new forms for the exchange of First Nations knowledge and the strengthening of bonds. This work is presented by Performance Space, Fusebox and Sydney Contemporary.

Live Action Relay
23 October
Comprising a drone, 4 dancers, a director, and a musician, the work sees the acclaimed choreographer and filmmaker Sue Healey break new ground, creating a digitally-broadcast dance performance streamed from a drone. Drawing from our current moment of social isolation, the work reimagines the role of technology in bringing us together across distance: a portrait of individuals in isolated spaces, connected by the orbiting eye of the drone camera and instantly shared in real time.

Live Action Relay rethinks the way we experience performance, creating a dance that would be impossible in a theatre situation. It is immediate and raw, revealing split-second, real-time decision-making between drone pilot, director, musician and dancers, in an immediate and heart-racing spectacle.

21 – 25 October
Fusing Filipinx myth, puppetry and queer pageantry as ceremony, the world premiere of a new body of work by Sydney artist Justin Shoulder, births an ecology of beings to emerge from the muck of a decomposing parallel world. Aeon – meaning a vital force, or an indefinite period of time – bears tension with †(dagger): the symbol placed beside the name of a species indicating it is extinct.

The performance becomes a petri dish incubating distinct and recombinant organisms. With an extraordinary team of collaborators, AEON† invites us to cross time, from the origins of life to glimpses beyond its end. Free-falling they recall the past in order to imagine a future of infinite-love-possibility. Co-presented by Performance Space and Carriageworks; co-commissioned by Performance Space and Fusebox Festival.

Day For Night
24 – 25 October
This year, Day For Night undergoes an extraordinary transformation and will happen across 12 sessions, for intimate groups of 20 people at a time. Come on a wild and revitalising journey through queer space and time. Lay back and experience a guided meditation created by and for queer communities, devour performances, manifestos and music sets from our most luminous queer artists… and finally, move your body through a joyous and liberating dance workshop.

The 2020 Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art takes place 21 – 25 October. For more information, and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Day for Night 2019 – photo by Jermaine Dean