This opportunity to participate in the SPILL Festival is a direct result of friendships and contacts made during the initial Time_Place_Space initiative run by ANAT, now, six years later, the resonance of that residency continues, the circle of artists and peers who are connected by this initiative extend beyond that select group who actually participated.
There is a sense that this inaugural SPILL Festival has spawned a very fertile ground for similar friendships, future collaborations, and opportunities to arise. It is, in short, extraordinary to have participated in this project, to have worked alongside Robert Pacitti and contributed to his vision, embraced his spirit of generosity, and met his challenge to place ourselves in this context. It was a risk to take the group on on and have Unreasonable Adults present as artists and a privilege to have been chosen as the only Australian artists programmed in this truly unique international festival.
As well as presenting over two nights the Unreasonable Adults artists-talk/performance, The Last To See Them Alive, integrating short performance fragments, video (both live feed and pre-recorded), spoken texts and electronic soundscapes, I was also core collaborators in the second week of SPILL on the Pacitti Company performance/installation, Grand FinalŽ (a work conceptually based on the novel Therese Raquin by Emile Zola) which took place in the Shunt Vaults venue – located directly under the London Bridge. This opportunity allowed myself and other members of Unreasonable Adults the time to create stronger connections with all the other artists invited to SPILL and to generate new ideas and networks.
Since leaving SPILL, interest in the work of Unreasonable Adults is strong, and the community of artists who have gathered and bonded during this inaugural SPILL Festival is potent, and inspired. Leaving when we did, we left a number of productive and inspiring conversations half finished, and the tyranny of distance is acutely felt. Because of this, the company is now actively pursuing opportunities for future tours and projects in both the UK and in Europe – with possibilities for artist exchanges to Australia.
With the radical cuts to arts funding in the UK, recently announced as monies get shuffled about to accommodate the upcoming Olympic Games, SPILL provides a necessary and fragile place for contemporary live art, interdisciplinary and performance works which are socially engaged and politically volatile. One might suggest it is a place for the unpopular to gather and exchange stories of disenfranchisement in an ever-hardening reality for artists who work in the seemingly invisible realms of the industry. Robert Pacitti bravely set upon the task of creating a temporary home for some of the homeless artists who keep finding themselves pushed to the outer limits of mainstream practice and presentation. Being invited to take part in this festival is an extraordinary honour, and challenge – we are the pioneers of something that is untested, untried, and in some quarters unwelcome.
Unreasonable Adults is now drawing up a strategic plan for returning to the UK and Europe to continue the productive, inspiring and creative dialogue we have begun as artists involved in SPILL. This includes an invitation by Nadine in Brussels (based on connections made with Belgian artists at SPILL) to be an artist-in-residence in their performance/media space, Plateau, May-July 2008.
Three important focus points resulted from our tour to SPILL:
- A recognition of lineage in experimental and interdisciplinary performance/media practice both in Australia and overseas
- A sense of an international Live Art Community
- Discussions of current contemporary issues and context related to Live Art practice
Being part of a festival dedicated to Performance and Live Art and having emerging and established artists and companies presented side by side was an invaluable opportunity to firmly place the work of Unreasonable Adults in an international framework.
Meeting of artists, discussing relevant topics and sharing work in the form of a symposium, weekly SPILL Feasts and visiting artists living in the same hotel meant that a constant sense of social interaction occurred and new opportunities could arise from informal discussions.
At the closure of SPILL, the major collaborative performance piece, Grande FinalŽ, took place, allowing for new work to be made alongside Unreasonable Adults international peers.
Concrete connections as a direct result of attending SPILL Festival of Performance include:
Networking and meeting with the Live Art Development Agency (LADA) – spending an afternoon at the agency speaking with staff, purchasing resources, books and DVDs for the Unreasonable Adults ‘unreasonable libraries’, visiting the tiny Study Room and hearing about the Study Room Guides written by artists and commentators to help users navigate through the Agency’s resources. I was inspired by this agency and their extensive and accessible resources -wanting to begin/assemble one of these in Australia – wondering where do organisations like Performance Space now fit into the Australian cultural landscape and can it incorporate something like this? Most of LADA’s foreign sales are to Australians demonstrating a demand for Live Art resources and an interest in this genre in our country.
I, along with Fiona Sprott and Caroline Daish, spent two weeks in residence at Nadine in Brussels. The residency consisted of researching, blogging, digesting, reflecting upon our work at SPILL and presenting a ‘new’ version of the work -also meeting Brussels artists and those who were presenting as part of the Kunstenfestivaldesarts.
I also begin a new Unreasonable Adults writing/web/performance project, If Not For You Then Who: an essay on Fear & Desire, with Fiona Sprott, working with a group of international ‘mentors/interrogators’, including Richard Lowdon (Forced Entertainment) and Dr Alejandro Cervantes-Carson (Interdisciplinary-Net).
Support: Unreasonable Adults received support and assistance for this tour from Arts SA, Australian Network for Art & Technology and Performance Space at Carriageworks (NSW).