Contact at Arts House

If you’re in Melbourne, Refuge at Arts House is the place to be this Saturday 11 November.

Along with five other artists and the amazing Arts House team, we’ll be transforming the North Melbourne Town Hall – a City of Melbourne designated Emergency Relief Centre – into a place of safety in a time of an imagined heatwave.

The Bureau of Meteorology predict that by 2070 the number of days over 35 degrees in Melbourne will more than double from an average of eight a year, to 17. How can we build resilience, connect and respond in inclusive, ethical and humane ways?

During Refuge, artists, emergency services and you – our community – will come together to start conversations, dream up ideas and forge possible futures.  You can take part in artistic interventions, meet with organisations including Red Cross Australia and the Victorian State Emergency Service (VICSES) and be a part of experimental and artistic sessions, performances and collaborations.

Refuge explores the role of artists and cultural institutions in times of climate catastrophe. Each year until 2020, we’re bringing together emergency management, artists, the community and local, regional and international partners, to prepare Arts House as an Emergency Relief Centre, in an imagined climate disaster.

Each of the Refuge artists explores a particular element within the Emergency Relief Centre – sleep, communications, light and warmth, food, well-being or community.

My project Contact, focuses on those most vulnerable to extreme heat who haven’t made it to our Refuge.  Are they coping?  You are invited to pick up the phone and make contact.  Contact invites you to connect with the homeless, with the elderly, with the recently arrived, with those who often struggle during a heat wave. In this instance, the weather isn’t small talk.

Contact has been developed in partnership with Arts HouseRed CrossCouncil to Homeless Persons, and North Melbourne Language and Learning.

Refuge Artists:
Asha Bee Abraham, Lorna Hannan, Jen Rae / Fair Share Fare, Dave Jones, Latai Taumoepeau, Punctum Inc.Emily Johnson/Catalyst & Vicki Couzens; The Elders Lounge presented by Yirramboi Festival.

Refuge is a free event for all ages. No Bookings are required.
12 noon–10pm, Sat 11 Nov

Accessibility: Part of this event is accessible via Auslan and an Audio Description Tour. Please contact Arts House regarding specific access needs

Refuge supporting partners are Emergency Management Victoria, Red Cross Australia, SES Footscray Division, The Huddle at The North Melbourne Football Club, the University of Melbourne’s Research Unit in Public Cultures, Resilient Melbourne, ACTNatimuk, Nati Frinj Biennale,Creative Recovery Networkand Horsham Rural City Council.

Join us!

Call out for stories for Invisible Cities Brunswick

The story of the city is written as its people interact with its places through the simplicity of everyday life.
We give the city its personality by exchanging smiles, stealing kisses and slamming car horns;
We construct its sounds and the sights with our busking and street art;
We draw the lines on the map through our paths to work.
Our stories build the city, brick by brick, paragraph by paragraph.

Invisible Cities is a participatory art project exploring the relationships between people and place. It maps the memories held in sites around the city, and explores the cities we each hold in our minds.

I’m hoping to hear from anyone with interesting (or just an everyday) story, anecdote or memory about your relationship with a particular place in Brunswick (ideally around the Sydney Road precinct) – a park, a street, a station, a corner, a laneway, a place that no longer exists, a place that used to be special, a place that you’d like to be special…

I’m gathering stories from around 50 people from across the broad spectrum of the people who live, work and play in Brunswick for Invisible Cities.

If you’re interested in sharing a story about your relationship with a place in Brunswick, I’ll meet you at your story site to do an audio recording of your story (which can take as little as 10min). The audio will be edited down to 4(ish) minutes and once the project launches at the end of August, it will be embedded at the site and I’ll affix a temporary plaque there to notify passersby of its significance to you. People can visit the story sites to unlock and listen to the free Invisible Cities app – downloadable from www.InvisibleCities.com.au.

If you’re​ interested in contributing a story, please contact me at hello@invisiblecities.com.au to arrange a time to meet at your story site in Brunswick for the audio recording.

Invisible Cities Brunswick is supported from the Moreland City Council.

Supper Club: Place & Displacement

I’m honoured that Arts House has invited myself and Dan Koop to curate their next Supper Club. Focusing on the themes of Place & Displacement, this will be a facilitated exploration of our overlapping relationships to place.

Wurundjeri elder Joy Murphy Wandin, urban planner Timmah Ball and natural history expert Gary Presland each frame their view of place through Indigenous culture, our natural environment and the ways that we design new spaces and transform place. Supper Clubbers can then grab a plate and join in hosted discussions examining wider concepts of place and displacement – ranging from homelessness, migration and ageing to space travel and the internet – designed to draw upon the expertise and experiences of all present.

Facilitated by human ecologist and artist Asha Bee Abraham (Invisible Cities) and purveyor of participatory art forms Dan Koop (The Stream/The Boat/The Shore/The Bridge), entry includes a delicious meal by Tamil Feasts.

Hosts include:
Aunty Joy Wandin, Wurundjeri Elder
Dr Gary Presland, Author and Historian
Timmah Ball, Writer & Urban Researcher
Baqir Khan, Poet, Humanitarian Innovator & Lecturer
Vicky Vacondios, Homelessness Advocate
Annie Raser-Rowland, Horticulturalist, Writer & Artist
Professor Barbara Creed, Animal Studies researcher, Melbourne University
Reg Abrahams, Wathaorong Aboriginal Co-operative, Manager of Wurdi Youang site
Dr Jolynna Sinanan, Social media researcher, RMIT University
David Vakalis, Protest and public space researcher, Monash University

Book your place at the table on the Arts House website, and here’s a link to the Facebook event.

Image: Laura WillsPublic Survey, 2010. Pastel on paper, 184x99cm.

Water Futures

“It’s time we changed the way we live; and the way we understand our selves in relation to each other and our planet. To ensure our survival, we need to consider new laws and look at our current policies, behaviours and interactions. To have a chance of creating a just and sustainable water future – we need to talk now.” Angharad Wynne-Jones, Arts House Artistic Director.

I was lucky enough to be one of 60 delegates from Australia and beyond to be part of the three-day transdisciplinary Water Futures hackathon as part of AsiaTOPA. Present were First Nations people from Australia, North America and the Pacific, artists, scientists, researchers, politicians, diplomats, and activists.

We spent the first day listening to the dire state of water and it’s future – in Australia and globally – and with that, our future. And the next two days in groups developing projects in response. I’ve never been part of a hack before, but I’m now pretty certain that every conference should attach a hack to it’s back end to develop proactive steps forward in response to all that has been discussed.

Huge thanks to Arts House for once again holding a space for the critical conversations at a critical time, and for inviting me into it.

Photo credit: Tara Prowse (Insta: @taratrax)

Invisible Cities Fremantle

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Invisible Cities is coming to Fremantle to record the stories of its people and places.

I’ll be recording the first batch of stories from 23-28 November, 2016. Get in touch and tell us where your story is located and we’ll find a time to meet at your story site to record it. If this window doesn’t suit, get in touch anyway as I’ll be doing a few batches of recordings before the project launches in May.

More details at www.invisiblecities.com.au
Stay up to date at www.facebook.com/InvisibleCitiesStories
Contribute a story by emailing hello[at]invisiblecities.com.au

Many thanks to City of Fremantle and Department of Culture & the Arts for bringing Invisible Cities to Fremantle.

Invisible Cities in the media

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In case you missed it, Invisible Cities did the rounds in the media in December.

  • This article was published in The Age;
  • I spent a morning in the ABC studios, first on ABC Radio National Books & Arts Daily with Michael Cathcart;
  • and then down to ABC 774’s The Conversation Hour with(out) Jon Faine (who was on summer leave), a very enjoyable conversation with hosts Ali Moore and David Astle, and fellow guests Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire of Women of Letters;
  • and then a couple of weeks later I headed to the SYN FM studio to talk Invisible Cities with Alice Walker (no, not the writer) on Art Smitten;
  • and lastly to the Triple R studios where I spoke on The Grapevine with summer hosts Libby Gott & Charby Ibrahim.

That’s a lot of talking for someone who spends their time creating platforms for other people to talk, don’t you think?

Invisible Cities

It’s been a long time in the making but Invisible Cities is set to launch in just a month!

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The project continues my investigation into the relationships between people and place, begun during my Human Ecology MSc thesis. Invisible Cities involves digital technologies to map and unlock audio-based memories and stories held in the Melbourne city centre.

Invisible Cities was going by the working title of ‘Urban Myths’ for a long time, but just recently I flicked through my copy of Italo Calvino’s ‘Invisible Cities’ when I had the idea of naming the project after the book. Some notes written my scrawly handwriting on the inside back cover caught my eye:

One can never know a city in its entirety. It is a mystery that will only be understood in pieces, a few pieces per person. Only together can we understand the city. But even then, we can’t. Never assume you know a city.

The city is still under construction. Made not just by the cranes and the road workers, but by the buskers, the street artists, the shoppers, the workers. We create the landscape, the soundtrack and the personality of the cities as we live their lives in and through it. But still we can’t know it.

I would have scrawled this and then forgotten about it in 2008 while reading for my Masters dissertation about resilience in urban communities. But I guess those thoughts stayed with me as it’s nearly identical to the description I’ve used in the series of projects I’ve been developing about people and place, in which Invisible Cities, Die Insel and The People’s Wangaratta fit. It all started from Italo Calvino. Who knew.

See the Invisible Cities page and website for project details.

Mr. Next Visitor

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The Singapore Fringe‘s lovely Festival Manager, Jezamine Tan, recently drew my attention to a write up about Where the heart is in a Japanese online publication called Partner. Unfortunately my one year of Japanese class in year 8 doesn’t cut it and I’ve had to rely on our trusty Google Translate. Here’s the translated article below, which I think sums up my practice quite well.

“Singaporean Asha Be Abraham’s is that the activities in Melbourne, Australia. Is an artist, Asha, who is also a human ecologist, the focus on “connection between people”, has produced a work in which the research. She, in order to produce this work, seems to grasp the hint traveled to Singapore is home. Interesting thing about this work, the viewer that “can spend” in her work. The spacious living room of subdued lighting, large sofa is placed, jazz is flowing from the radio. I was like remember as I sneak into her house illusion. Such as below in the drawer or table, here and there in which’s a twist, it tickles the visitor’s curiosity. And, next to the sofa and tea set is available, it can also be a tea time slowly sat down!

On the table is a simple worksheet to make a paper house had been placed. In the warm light of the lamp shade, and is promoting the worksheet while drinking tea, the author I was Idei “eyes to see the work” is also, had been thinking of for the house unawares there in my mind. Have house …… that stands for and grew up hill in childhood, and moved to Tokyo to house ….. I started the people live in,. Nostalgic, it will be painful feelings. I think we as has been “LOSS” a variety of memories in which to live. However, than trying to Asha’s is to convey the words “It’s just such do I’ll also remember you’ll …… have forgotten just is not a loss,” such as is? I felt. About an hour after it if you can, but I felt that I want a cup of tea in this work, because Mr. next visitor appeared, it was after a hurriedly To Asha’s house.”

Thanks for the write up, Partner. Thanks for your help, Google.

Laughing Waters Field School

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I’ve just returned from Forms for Encounter and Exchange, a 10 day group residency at Laughing Waters in Eltham with 15 or so other artists. The residency used a series of artist talks, workshops, excursions and general banter to explore artistic strategies of exchange, generosity, hospitality, and reciprocity in contemporary art and society. We each made an offering of a workshop or talk to the group; mine was an introduction to human ecology and an invitation to observe and reflect on our human ecology over the 10 days as a microcosm of the wider human ecologies that we exist in and exchange with beyond the residency.

The residency was primarily developed by Dr Marnie Badham of the VCA’s Centre for Cultural Partnerships for as part of her pedagogic interest in residency as form, along with visiting ‘keynote artist residents’ Ted Purves and Susanne Cockrell (San Fran artists and California College of the Arts faculty). The great artists involved were Abbra Kotlarczyk | Adam Douglass | Adva Weinstein | Amy Spiers | Asha Bee Abraham | Danny Butt | David Brazier and Kelda Free | Gretchen Coombs | Hartmut Veit | Jason Baerg | Jen Rae | Julie Tipene O’Toole | Kate Hill | Marnie Badham | Margaret Summerton | Polly Stanton | Sarah Fuller | Susanne Cockrell | Tania Cañas | Ted Purves.

We’ll be doing a show and tell about the Field School this Wednesday evening at VCA – all welcome.

All photos here by Abbra Kotlarcyzk from her beautiful Field School blog.

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The People’s Wangaratta

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The story of the city is written not by the historians or the tourist bureaus.
It is written as its people interact with its places through the simplicity of everyday life.
We give the city its personality by exchanging smiles, stealing kisses and slamming car horns;
We construct its sights and sounds with our street art and busking;
We draw the lines on the map with our paths to work and our escape routes.
Our stories build the city, brick by brick, paragraph by paragraph.

The People’s Wangaratta tells some of the stories that connect the people of Wang to the places that are meaningful to them in the simplest of ways. All places were marked and described by the people of Wang for the people of Wang. This is the people’s Wangaratta. Take yourself on a tour. Bring your neighbour.

Commissioned by Hello City as part of their Wangaratta Project, The People’s Wangaratta was a participatory art project that mapped people’s relationships with place in the city. Following on from my 2014 Die Insel project I carried out in Berlin, this time a colour coded key was added to the map, to which people were encouraged to contribute their stories, memories and dreams. Everything on the map was collated and printed as a fold-out map, and made freely available in Wangaratta. A map of Wangaratta’s everyday. A map by locals, for locals.

A PDF of the map is available here. Many thanks to Marc Martin for building the map structure.

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