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About our Pilot Regional Engagement Program

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Question: How many teenagers get a private masterclass in performance art from the internationally acclaimed artist Marina Abramović?

Answer: Eight - all from Dubbo.

The Kaldor Public Art Projects Regional Engagement Program was an important strand of our recent Project 30 – Marina Abramović: In Residence. Over several months, the participants were introduced to the genre of performance art through a series of workshops, discussions, exercises and activities led by theatre director Imara Savage, artist Lottie Consalvo and Kaldor Public Art Project Regional Co-ordinator Jo Higgins. The program was comprised of activities exploring the role of the body as a gesture or action in art making, examining ideas of presence and energy and the role of the audience, and asking the eight intrepid participants to mine their own ideas and experiences, challenging them to consider how they might explore some of these emotions and responses as a work of art.

 

All photos, unless otherwise stated: Paige Williams / Orana Arts


The regionally focused project is a natural next step in KPAP’s investment in the development of innovative, world-class education and outreach programs, and in finding and supporting new audiences for contemporary art. Envisioned as a productive and ongoing dialogue with key stakeholders in the region – including the teams at Dubbo Regional Gallery and Orana Arts, Dubbo City Council, local art teachers, artists and young people – it was also an opportunity for us to explore the development of a sustainable model of regional engagement, exchange and future partnerships.

We approached Western Plains Cultural Centre (WPCC) and began discussions with them about the pilot last July. We wanted to work with an organisation whose programming and vision reflected our own; who had established connections in the community and a strong school network; and who had the resources and facilities to support the project on a logistical level. Thankfully they didn’t take much convincing.


During the first weekend workshop in May, the group were guided through a series of discussions and activities designed to explore what performance art can be. They looked at historical and contemporary examples of performance – from Yoko Ono to Clark Beaumont and started to interrogate how we construct and present ideas about ourselves in society. We also looked at ideas of perception, reception and the role of the audience. They also began a series of exercises designed to get them thinking about presence, movement, energy and focus.



 


 


 


 


 


Weekend workshop, Western Plains Cultural Centre, May 2015. Photo: Paige Williams / Orana Arts


 


 


 


 

 

 

The second weekend was led by Lottie, and took the group the process of deconstructing their ideas and experiences to distill a central theme for their own works of art. This involved a lot of mind-mapping, personal reflection and critical thinking and discussion about intention - what kind of encounter, what kind of materials, what kind of feeling?


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

And then earlier this month the participants visited Sydney for two days at Pier 2/3. It was a chance to experience Project 30 - Marina Abramović: In Residence and to be part of the dedicated public program event with Western Plains Cultural Centre curator Kent Buchanan aptly titled, The Western Plains Respond. It was also an opportunity for them to see their learning and works-in-progress in the context of the 12 emerging Australian artists living in residence at the Pier (of which Lottie was one) and to meet the rest of the Kaldor Public Art Projects team.








Photo: Annie McKay


Photo: Annie McKay


 

A masterclass with Marina wasn’t on the agenda. It was an impromptu event, proposed by Marina herself no less, after she met the group and heard about their program. Marina challenged them to explain their ideas, asked critical questions, gave thoughtful feedback and told them in no uncertain terms to commit to their ideas, especially the ones that frightened them, because they usually proved to be the most important ones.

The results were on display during the special one-day exhibition at Dubbo Regional Gallery at the Western Plains Cultural Centre last Sunday 26 July.


Photo: Kaldor Public Art Projects


Photo: Kaldor Public Art Projects


Photo: Kaldor Public Art Projects


Photo: Kaldor Public Art Projects


This significant, exciting culmination to the Engagement Program was a chance for the participants to present their work as serious young artists, and to learn what’s involved in curating an exhibition. Kent Buchanan, Curator of the WPCC along with the rest of the Dubbo team, took the unprecedented step of giving them their own exhibition space in the main gallery. Their final performance pieces deftly explored their teenage experiences of disconnection, feminism, mental health, love, worry and expectation.

The exhibition was presented from 11am as part of a special day-long, free public program which included the official launch of the Public Art of Dubbo website by Deputy Premier and NSW Arts Minister, the Hon. Troy Grant, and an afternoon panel discussion on the changing nature of public art. Chaired by Kent Buchanan, panellists include Kaldor Public Art Projects Director John Kaldor, artist Alex Wisser and Regional Arts Development Officer for Orana Arts, Alicia Leggett.


Photo: Alex Wisser


Photo: Alex Wisser


Photo: Alex Wisser


Photo: Alex Wisser

 Photo: Alex Wisser


Photo: Alex Wisser


Photo: Alex Wisser


Photo: Alex Wisser


Photo: Alex Wisser


Photo: Alex Wisser


Photo: Alex Wisser


Photo: Alex Wisser


Photo: Alex Wisser

More about the Pilot Project visit can be seen at www.kaldorpublicartprojects.tumblr.com

 

The project was led by Kaldor Public Art Projects in partnership with the Western Plains Cultural Centre and Orana Arts. It has been supported by the Federal Government and Arts NSW.

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