Non-stop collaborations and commissions: Carriageworks is back with a brand new program for 2015

Chloe Wolifson

Impressive in scope, scale and ambition, Carriageworks in the heart of Sydney’s Redfern continues the consolidation and growth of its formidable artistic program in 2015, cementing its place as a nationally unique and significant multi-arts institution.
Non-stop collaborations and commissions: Carriageworks is back with a brand new program for 2015

Kaldor Art Projects: Xavier Le Roy, ​Self Unfinished, 1998, Performed in Berlin 2003. Image: Katrin Schoof  

Impressive in scope, scale and ambition, Carriageworks in the heart of Sydney’s Redfern continues the consolidation and growth of its formidable artistic program in 2015, cementing its place as a nationally unique and significant multi-arts institution.

Carriageworks will kick off 2015 by once again partnering with the Sydney Festival throughout January, for a series of events which, like the institution itself, challenge perceptions and push boundaries. Resident company Force Majeure will take up this theme in a big way with Nothing to Lose, a new dance work which explores the sculptural possibilities of the large body in motion. Focusing in on the body’s movement in a different way will be Charleroi Danses with Kiss & Cry, a microcosmic romance performed by a pair of dancing hands.

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Ethics will receive a workout in multimedia production The Experiment, in which playwright Mark Ravenhill and composer David Chisholm take up ethicist Peter Singer’s question regarding the taking of one innocent life in order to save many others. Art’s role as a platform for existential exploration will be further investigated by Tamara Saulwick & Insite Arts in Endings. This hybrid chamber concert and performance work will examine experiences around death, dying and the afterlife. Chinese artist Zhang Huan will continue this consideration with his monumental Sydney Buddha.

The festival atmosphere will continue into February with Day for Night as part of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. This exhibition of performance works accompanied by a specially composed soundtrack will launch as a dance party, followed by a weekend of curated live performances – an ideal synergy of the spirits of presenting partners Mardi Gras, Performance Space and Carriageworks.

Carriageworks’ role as host of major Sydney events doesn’t stop there. April will see Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia return to Carriageworks to celebrate its 20th anniversary, showcasing innovative and emerging designers, and providing weekend public access to runway presentations and industry style sessions.

In May, festival of creative ideas Semi-Permanent will once again make Carriageworks the place to be for sharing of debates and dialogue between esteemed speakers and a spirited and engaged audience. Buzzing crowds were also the order of the day when Sydney Contemporary launched as Australasia’s newest international art fair in 2013, and in September 2015 galleries from around the region will return, giving local audiences a chance to see and buy contemporary art.

Support for artists is at the core of Carriageworks’ ethos, and another project which embodies this is 24 Frames Per Second. This major exhibition of 24 commissioned screen-based works by local and international artists has been three years in the making, and Carriageworks Director Lisa Havilah is looking forward to it coming to fruition in mid-2015.

Another organisation known for its support for experimental work is Room40, and in July 2015 the Australian record label will celebrate 15 years of contributing to alternative music culture with Open Frame Room40, a curated cross-media program. Offerings for lovers of music culture continue in November with At First Sight, a festival with a difference. Billed as ‘a day dedicated to everyone that still buys vinyl and loves live music,’ the event is an opportunity to browse and buy records, accompanied by Australian artists and DJs.

Sydney Chamber Opera are contemporising earlier music modes in a different way. A new resident company who have just joined Carriageworks, Havilah explained that ‘they’re a young company making very contemporary opera works. The first work they’re making is based on David Malouf’s book Fly Away Peter with Elliott Gyger as the composer.’

As well as presenting that work in May, in November Sydney Chamber Opera will work with Ensemble Offspring on An Index of Metals, a boldly contemporary take on experimental composer Fausto Romitelli’s final work. Sydney Chamber Opera have been attracting ‘huge and younger audiences for opera.’

In a different approach to this traditional art form, in October Wade Marynowsky’s Robot Opera will present an interactive interpretation of humans’ evolving relationship with the technology around us. Combining live performance, robotics and sound, the work has been developed with Branch Nebula and is presented along with with Performance Space.

The award winning Branch Nebula have also developed a major new work which tests the boundaries between reality and performance. Artwork, taking place in August, will see untrained and unprepared people from all walks of life perform for the first time in front of a live audience. It’s work such as this that sees Carriageworks come into its own. ‘Carriageworks can provide distinctive opportunities to artists in terms of their ambition,’ explained Havilah, ‘and that’s where the interest lies for us as an institution. To work with and support artists to take those sorts of risks.’

Kaldor Public Art Projects have been making history by bringing international artists to our shores for 40 years. Next year they will work with Carriageworks for the first time, presenting the work of Xavier Le Roy. Sydneysiders recently experienced the French artist’s work as part of the 2013 Kaldor project 13 Rooms. Self Unfinished will be presented at Carriageworks in November in tandem with a site-specific work at Mosman Oil tanks.

Carriageworks is conscious of its place in Redfern, the urban heart of Aboriginal Australia, and will maintain its connections with and support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists through a number of aspects of its programming. The legendary Bangarra Dance Theatre will mark their first season at Carriageworks by presenting Ochres, the work that helped launch the company 21 years ago, in a fresh incarnation. Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones will present a site specific work presented by Carriageworks and resident company Performance Space.

The institution has also programmed with our region globally in mind, with a number of projects taking an Asia-Pacific focus. In July Singaporean artist Ho Tzu Nyen will present the Australian premiere of his work Ten Thousand Tigers, which explores Malayan history and folklore through cutting-edge multi-art forms.

July will also see Michael Tuffrey & Royal Samoan Police Band perform Siamani Samoa. Translated as German Samoa, the title of this work literally gives back ownership of the postcolonial experience to Samoans, who in 2015 will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of German rule of the Pacific nation. The authoritative voice of the Police Band will speak to the importance of acknowledging the way daily lives continue to be affected long after the coloniser has departed.

Following the highly successful test pattern [No5] in 2013, Ryoji Ikeda will return to Carriageworks in September with a new work using performers for the first time. The international collaborations continue into October with French choreographer François Chaignaud presenting multi-lingual baroque salon recital Dumi Moyi, developed with fashion designer Romain Brau.

Havilah stated that ‘One of the growing elements…is our development program. We have more projects going into development all the time [and currently] there are about 15-20 projects being made.’ New resident company Felix Media are producing renowned Australian artist Hossein Valamanesh’s first large-scale new media work Char Soo in partnership with the 2015 Adelaide Film Festival.

Other projects in development include New Normal, focusing on the integration of disability arts into mainstream arts programming. Force Majeure will also develop a new Australian work in collaboration with artists with disability in Sydney and regional NSW.

Part of project development, as Havilah explained, ‘involves working with international artists across a number of years to build audiences for their work locally, but also to provide audiences with the opportunity to engage with an artist’s work over period of time.’ American artist Nick Cave is currently visiting Sydney as part of such development and will give a talk at Carriageworks this week.

Like the building itself, the scope of Carriageworks’ 2015 program is larger than life. Havilah agreed, saying, ‘We try to commission work that meets the ambition of Carriageworks as an institution [as well as] in terms of its physical structure.’ With collaboration at the centre of its cross-disciplinary programming, Carriageworks is uniquely placed to invite audiences into immersive experiences that engage with its many communities.

Bring on 2015.

About the author

Chloe Wolifson is a Sydney-based independent art writer and curator who works across artist-run, commercial and public domains.

chloewolifson.com