Carriageworks 2023 First Nations Artists + Perspectives

Rebecca Varidel
28th Dec 2022

Carriageworks one of Australia’s most significant contemporary multi-arts organisations, has unveiled a dynamic program for 2023 including world premiere performance works, major large-scale exhibitions, and a strong focus on First Nations artists and perspectives. Marking the first year of uninterrupted programming at Carriageworks since 2019, the 2023 Artistic Program encompasses contemporary art, dance, performance, music, opera, food and major events.

“Carriageworks has placed First Nations voices and perspectives at the forefront of our 2023 programming, whilst continuing our commitment to supporting our local arts community in the creation of new work, supporting professional opportunities for artists and alongside transformative experiences for audiences. We are excited to present a strong program of major exhibitions, world premiere performances, and new First Nations programs in 2023 alongside new initiatives to invite local community into Carriageworks to hear their ideas and the issues important to them as well as engage them in programming” saidCarriageworks CEO Blair French.

In 2023, First Nations arts and culture sits at the heart of the Carriageworks program, including a new 10 day international First Nations Dance Festival – Darunga Nura – in July and sustained, regular programming for artists, community and youth. These programs include: monthly workshops in the First Nations Garden for local First Nations students and elders; a monthly Citizens Assembly inviting the community to come together to discuss and debate the issues that matter to them; the Carriageworks Youth Ensemble, an after-school arts training program for local youth and The Blak Vine, a training program for Blak writers to delve into cultural critique from Blak perspectives. The Huxleys, Melbourne-based collaborative performance and visual artists made up of Will Huxley and Garrett Huxley (Yorta/Gumbaynggir) will also present a major new exhibition for Sydney Festival and Sydney WorldPride.

Other highlights include large-scale exhibitions by leading contemporary artists Paul Yore, and Salote Tawale, as well as world premiere works by Carriageworks Resident Companies Marrugeku, Force Majeure and Sydney Chamber Opera as well as Sydney’s Ensemble Offspring, and the return of popular events including Moogahlin Performing Arts’ Yellamundie Festival, The National 4: Australian Art Now, Cut N Polish: Artists Car Boot Sale, SOUTHEAST Aboriginal Arts Market and Contemporary Australian Asian Performance’s (CAAP) Longhouse series.

The year opens with major exhibitions and performances as part of Sydney Festival and Sydney WorldPride. A major immersive installation by Australian artist Paul Yore titled WORD MADE FLESH comes to Sydney in partnership with the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) from 5 January - 26 February. WORD MADE FLESH is a new immersive, architecturally-scaled installation composed of improvised makeshift structures, mixed media sculpture and found objects, collage and assemblage, paintings, video, and pulsating sound and light.

Presented from 5 January until 5 March, a major new exhibition Bloodlines by The Huxleys will honour legendary queer artists lost to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Utilising the artists’ skills in costume design, performance and photography, the exhibition will include large-scale photographic works, video art and an opening live art party on 4 January. The exhibition will also feature a durational collaborative installation that invites the community to contribute panels to be sewn together into a quilt, reminiscent of the AIDS Memorial Quilts created during the 80s and 90s. Bloodlines is a heartfelt tribute to LGBTQIA+ artists, including Leigh Bowery, Robert Mapplethorpe, Keith Haring and Sylvester, that continue to inspire the practices of The Huxleys and countless artists working today.

Alongside the Summer exhibitions, performance artist Justin Shoulder will be taking up residency with Talking Bodies, a performance lecture series on the 2 February reflecting on queer ecologies. Curated by Rhiannon Newton and Katy Green Loughrey, Shoulder will respond to WORD MADE FLESH and Bloodlines to discuss the role of body and ceremony in imagining alternative futures.

After sell-out national and international tours, the immersive live performance Polar Force by Speak Percussion makes its Sydney debut at Carriageworks 6 - 8 January. Exploring the beauty and infinite complexity of Antarctica, Polar Force envelopes its audience in the visceral sound world of the Antarctic ice shelves. Situated within a custom-built white inflatable structure, the work features multi-channel sound design and live percussion; it combines high fidelity field recordings captured in the Australian Antarctic Territory by sound artist Philip Samartzis with bespoke musical instruments made to manipulate pressurised air, water and ice.

In February, Carriageworks will be the home of the First Nations Gathering Space Marri Madung Butbut (Many Brave Hearts) for Sydney WorldPride with a free art party by The Huxleys and many other theatre, drag and family events. Also, during WorldPride, Performance Space and Performing Lines present two 24 hour performance events - Day for Night: The Pleasure Arc and 24 Hour Grumble Boogie with Betty Grumble creating an inclusive queer utopia midday to midday 18 - 19 February.

Celebrating contemporary Australian art, The National 4: Australian Art Now returns in 2023 30 March – 25 June, presented by four of Sydney’s leading cultural institutions – Carriageworks, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Campbelltown Arts Centre, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. The biennial survey of contemporary art showcases work made by artists across Country, across generations and across artistic practices, with the Carriageworks presentation curated by Freja Carmichael and Aarna Fitzgerald Hanley.

The world premiere of resident company Marrugeku’s Burrbgaja Yalirra 2 will be presented 21 – 29 April, a trilogy of short works curated by Artistic Directors Dalisa Pigram and Rachael Swain that trace histories of migration, relocation, cultural adaption and survival and draws on the power of ancestral presence to remember the future. Burrbgaja Yalirra 2 has a focus on fostering new choreographic approaches by combining traditional and contemporary dance frameworks in new collaborations between artists from specific northern Australian communities and those of maritime nations of Southeast Asia and Melanesia.

On May 7, the Cut N Polish: Artists Car Boot Sale returns after an overwhelming response to the inaugural event in 2022 that saw an attendance of over 6000 visitors. The one-day event, by artists Consuelo Cavaniglia, Jonny Niesche and Brendan Van Hek, provides the opportunity for over 60 artists to sell new works, pieces from their back catalogue, collaborations, and side projects direct to the public in a ‘cash and carry’ market model with all sale proceeds going directly to the artists.

On 24 June, Ensemble Offspring will present Incredible Floridas, chamber music at its most intense, visceral and radical. Viewers will experience a brooding and complex masterpiece by the great Australian modernist Richard Meale, with contemporary tributes from Augustin Braud, Jack Symonds and Josephine Macken.

Force Majeure’s new dance work IDK will be presented 22 – 26 August, interrogating the expectations we have of ourselves and others. The work looks at the danger, risk and uncertainty expectations can hold, as well as the joy, freedom and ecstasy of the everyday.

Yellamundie Festival, presented by Moogahlin Performing Arts returns on 18 – 30 September as a national and international showcase for First Peoples talent. From a national callout, six new works will be developed and presented in a three-day festival of live performance, yaans and events.

Sydney Chamber Opera will present earth.voice.body 29 September – 5 October; a new Australian work, a major work by a leading living international composer and a radical interpretation of a 20th century classic. Poulenc's La voix humaine will be performed alongside Kaija Saariaho's Quatre instants and Jack Symonds's The Shape of the Earth.

At the tail end of the year from 11 October until 10 December, Carriageworks presents the first major solo exhibition in Sydney by artist Salote Tawale. Drawing on her Indigenous Fijian and Anglo-Australian heritage, the project considers how memory relates to identity and place. With the exhibition space conceived as a ‘memory bank’, Tawale brings together paintings, sculpture, installation and video to investigate the complex and, at times, unreliable nature of memories. Inspired by family conversations, photographs and archival material – and drawing upon the artist’s personal experiences of race, class, ethnicity and gender in Australia – the project continues Tawale’s ongoing exploration of how the cultural identity of the individual sits within collective systems.

Alongside the weekly Carriageworks Farmers Market, a dynamic food program will be presented throughout the year, with quarterly events, celebrating the best new season produce with farmer talks, live cooking demonstrations and hands-on food experiences. Carriageworks closes the year with the popular Twilight Christmas Market, providing a curated selection of food related giftware and the best quality NSW produce for the festive season.

Other major events returning to Carriageworks in 2023 include Afterpay Australian Fashion Week and Sydney Contemporary.

Image Darunga Nura First Nations Dance Festival