A Centre for Everything hosted a roundtable as part of their participation in Shapes of Knowledge. Addressing the Australian art world’s complicity in the production of climate change as an issue that has been quietly swept under the rug for decades, key artists, activists and cultural commentators discussed the consequences of these relationships and how they might be changed. The roundtable presented a series of conversational provocations around the issues of ethics, sponsorship, climate change, mining, institutional critique, divestment, power, wealth, social practice, impact, the future and sustainability.
Dr Jen Rae is a Narrm-based artist-researcher of Canadian Métis-Scottish descent. Her 15-year practice-led research expertise is in the discursive field of contemporary environmental art and arts-based environmental communication. It is centered around cultural responses to climate change, specifically the role of artists. Her work is engaged in discourses around food in/security, disaster preparedness and ecological futures predominantly articulated through transdisciplinary collaborative methodologies and community alliances. She is the Creative Lead of Fair Share Fare; a board member of the International Environmental Communication Association and the Creative Recovery Network (AUS); and, has lectured at the postgraduate level in socially-engaged art and performance at the University of Melbourne and Deakin University.
Ben Eltham is a writer, journalist and researcher from Melbourne. He writes regularly about Australian politics and culture for New Matilda, Crikey, Guardian Australia, Kill Your Darlings, Overland and more. Ben lectures in the cultural and creative industries at Monash University's School of Media, Film and Journalism. His book on Australian culture, The Culture Paradox, will be published by NewSouth in 2019.
A former University of Melbourne environment officer, Rachel started an internship with Market Forces in 2016. This quickly led to a campaigning position, with a particular focus on working with and empowering shareholders. If you own shares in banks, insurance companies or mining companies, Rachel is the person to contact.
Natalie Thomas is a Melbourne based artist and writer. Thomas maintains a diverse and independent practice that considers storytelling as the basis of culture. Her work engages with the mass media and its role in the how we see each other and the world. nat&ali (1999-2005) was a collaboration that riffed with riot grrrl strategies. nattysolo.com (one woman, one camera, no film) is an ongoing endurance performance project with an online outcome.The project uses the form of the social page and social archive and fuses gossip and innuendo with scathing cultural criticism. The project is widely read. How are words, images and stories used to build, maintain or dismantle ways of thinking and seeing?
David Pledger is an award-winning contemporary artist, curator, producer and thinker working within and between the performing, visual and media arts in Australia, Asia and Europe. His live performances, installations, interactive artworks, documentaries, digital art, ideas and discursive events have been presented in books, journals, magazines, museums, galleries, arts centres, a city car-park, an abandoned stables, a suburban house, hotels in Surfers Paradise, a Slovenian film studio and the Australian Institute of Sport. From his initial practice, live performance, he has developed a cross-disciplinary dramaturgy in which a central platform is engaging with artists across artforms and experts from social, scientific, academic and philanthropic fields. Practice interests include the body, the politics of power, the digital realm and public space. He is founding Artistic Director of not yet it’s difficult (NYID), one of Australia’s seminal interdisciplinary arts companies. He is published widely in journals including The Conversation, Artlink, Art Wires, Arts Hub, Dancehouse Diary and The Daily Review on matters of artistic practice, cultural policy, social commentary, arts activism and international cultural relations. His 2013 Platform Paper, Re-Valuing the Artist in the New World Order, is enjoying a second print-run. In 2019, he will be published in The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Politics and Intermedial Theatre (Palgrave).
Alex is a settler Australian filmmaker and artist committed to social and climate justice. Alex has worked in film, theatre, communications strategy and troublemaking in many forms. This includes taking part in blockade camps from Jabiluka, Kakadu to la zad, France and working on creative projects such as Ngapartji Ngapartji and Something Somewhere Film Festival as well as the documentary films; THE ISLAND, Island of the Hungry Ghosts and Queen of the Desert. Alex was the Global Impact & Distribution Producer on Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything project. She is currently working on Maya Newell’s forthcoming film In My Blood It Runs as Associate Producer and Impact Producer. In 2013 Alex was awarded a Churchill Fellowship and explored at models for social change documentary impact and engagement in UK, Canada and USA. Alex was also a 2016 Sidney Myer Creative Fellow. Alex is currently developing The Things We Did Next – a multiplatform speculative futures project.
A Centre for Everything is an independent creative and pedagogical project that engages individuals and communities to learn, create, discuss and eat together founded by artists Will Foster and Gabrielle de Vietri. Their collaborative events bring together diverse topics through performances, presentations, workshops, readings, discussions, demonstrations, critiques and meals. Recurring themes include active responses to current political issues, game-play and its application to wider modes of social behaviour, collective creativity, and the intersection of artistic, social and pedagogical thinking.
A Centre for Everything participated in Shapes of Knowledge at MUMA, 9 February – 13 April 2019.
Image: A Centre for Everything, Fungi, Soup and Mafia, 2015. Image courtesy of the artists