Image: IETM Asian Satellite meeting, day two. Credit: Will Taylor
‘I came away feeling quite changed in my perspective. In speaking with artists who experience real risk, imprisonment and the reduction of their rights, I feel I can no longer claim the word ‘risk’ in relation to our artwork. The conversations were not policy based but really about making. The meeting had an atmosphere of real warmth, there is always a warmth to IETM, but this meeting had a real sense of joy.’
Australian IETM Delegate Kate Neylon, PVI Collective.
From Monday 12 May to Wednesday 14 May, the Australian Council hosted and managed the IETM Asian Satellite meeting. Bringing together over 240 delegates from Asia, Europe and Australia to share knowledge, develop new relationships and undertake conversations shaped by the perspectives of individuals from three continents. The meeting folded into the final weekend of Next Wave and the Lab: an initiative of Arts Centre Melbourne’s Asian Performing Arts Program which brought together Asian and Australian artists to explore intercultural strategies and initiate or advance new creative collaborations. The IETM Satellite meeting ran for three days followed by a Sydney Caravan organised by Harley Stumm, Intimate Spectacle.
Throughout the IETM Satellite meeting there was a palpable sense of energy, a re-authoring of work at the margins and a shift in understanding the reach and power of collaborative relationships. From my own perspective, it challenged a dynamic that perhaps many Australian artists who have worked extensively in Asia already understand – it is not a bilateral relationship of entry into a new place or terrain with an existing set of questions and assumed answers, but an artistic dialogue which sits at the edge our comfort zone for collaboration and new creative discussions. As Tang Fu Kuen (Thailand) moderator for the IETM session A Window on the Performing Arts in Asia invited ‘…it is time for the Europeans and the Australians at the table to be quiet and listen…’
Rachael Maza moderator for Next Wave’s Blak Wave Breakfast Club at The Wheeler Centre asked two questions that resonated strongly throughout the IETM meeting ‘How do we listen, when we can’t hear? How do we take responsibility to be conscious of what we think we know?’ These provocations came up time and time again throughout the Lab, Next Wave and the IETM Satellite meeting, encouraging a shift to curiosity and collaborative dialogues that maps paths we don’t yet know and asks questions that we haven’t answered, or need to answer.
Preceding the IETM meeting Arts Centre Melbourne and Asialink co-hosted a forum at The Wheeler Centre on ‘Soft Diplomacy’ a discussion that canvassed post-colonial power relationships and cultural negotiations, raising questions and observations that persisted throughout IETM. Moderator Doug Hall observed that as Australians ‘…I suspect how we see ourselves, is not how others see us…’ Parmesh Shahani Head of the Godrej India Culture Lab and IETM delegate spoke about the creative lab he had established within the infrastructure of a corporation ‘…Art comes first hyphenated by the in between spaces. Experimental, fluid, format agnostic and defined by vision…’ Culture lab is distinguished not by form, discipline or aesthetics rather it is driven by ideas and experimentation. New relations are not defined by capital ‘I’, Institution to Institution, but involve non-state actors, are research and experiment led, digital and, importantly, open source as a means of sharing knowledge and content.
This is part one of a three part series looking at the IETM Asian Satellite meeting in Melbourne. Stay tuned for Part Two which will look more into The Lab.