Carriageworks: Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art

Rebecca Varidel
7th Oct 2020

Liveworks 2020 is a reimagined festival in response to the uncertainty of the world around us. Blending live performance and digital events, artists have been forced to think outside the box, to work within COVID restrictions. The end result: the most inventive, thought-provoking and boundary-pushing Liveworks to-date. Running 21 to 25 October in its home of Carriageworks, Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art will present new and intriguing developments in art by some of the most inventive artists of our time from Sydney and across Australia.

Presented by

The 2020 program blends half-half live performance and online experiences to engage art-lovers from across Australia and around the world and spark conversations about our imagined future including our five picks:

Medicament For Your Predicament by Sydney artist Cat Jones
An experimental pharmacy offering homespun solutions to your personal and political ailments. Jones helps diagnose your contemporary ailment, which could be anything from back pain to mansplaining, gender inequality or patriarchy. In a fun and conservational way, she helps you create a medicine to heal that ailment using homegrown ingredients and a special package delivered from the artist. The online intimate 3.5-hour workshop draws on the artist’s many years of research into the history of western and non-western medicine. With grass roots activism at its core, this work empowers you to tackle some of the bigger issues we feel powerless to face alone.

Nganggurnmanha: sound dust by artist Nicole Monks and Make or Break (Connie Anthes and Rebecca Gallo)
The artists consider the meaning of time from a First Nations perspective to de-construct our western-centric, rationalised experience of time. They will invite you to contribute a piece of ‘sound dust’: a recorded fragment of sound captured in nature. Hundreds of ‘sound dust’ recordings will then be compiled into one large-scale interactive installation at Carriageworks, which will come to life as the viewers’ bodies move through the space. The work asks us to re-consider our sense of time and why in western worlds it is too often defined by capitalism and productivity.

SJ Norman unveils a moving new work (XXX)
Broadcast online at sunset each day, this performance ritual centres on a daily exchange of love letters between Koori writer SJ Norman and the Cherokee New York writer, Joseph M Pierce. Writing from their respective quarantines in Australia and the US, each artist will read the other’s letter direct-to-camera as the sun sets over their city, every day of the festival. The work considers what it means to express Indigenous love, the strengthening of bonds, and the current disruption of relationships and cultural ties, during this time of global pandemic.

Live Action Relay by Sydney choreographer and filmmaker Sue Healey
A veteran independent dance artist, Healy is known for combining film and dance for beautiful, poignant results. Dance is one of the most challenging artforms to practice at this time. The artist has found a solution: she has responded by placing dancers at a safe distance across an outdoor landscape. Dancers will perform, connected by a series of cameras and a drone to capture both micro details and dramatic wide shots in this new-look dance event. Live streamed, the work highlights the capacity for technology to connect us, both in art and the everyday. Filmed and broadcast live with a live musician: directed on the fly by the artist in real time, it offers the thrill of a live project but adds the new experiences of seeing dance in new ways.

AEON†: EPISODE I by Sydney artist Justin Shoulder 
Fusing Filipinx myth, puppetry and queer pageantry as ceremony, this is the world premiere of a new body of work by the artist, co-presented by Performance Space and Carriageworks; co-commissioned by Performance Space and Fusebox Festival. It 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.

Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art Artistic Director Jeff Khan, believes there has never been a more important time to host a festival of experimental art.

"Artists have always found inventive ways for us to gather together and reflect on the present, dream about alternative realities and consider the future. In this strange and suspended moment in history—when it seems impossible for any of us to know what the future holds—how else can we connect with each other and imagine new possibilities? It seemed urgent and important that we move ahead with a reshaped version of Liveworks this year to create a safe, welcoming and revitalizing space for audiences and communities to do these things together, and enable a deep-dive exploration into the biggest issues facing us all in the world today."

"Equally, we are also acutely aware that there are many artists whose worlds have collapsed due to the pandemic. 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 to share their latest work and provide an audience for their innovation. That has always been integral to our workings at Performance Space and it is more important than ever to provide that support to artists."