Image by Marit Shirin Carolasdotter
Leah Landau: Choreographer, dancer, and co-curator of our ACTIVATORS program.
Where are you?
I live in Stockholm, studying a Masters in New Performance Practices. It’s a beautiful city, spread out by lots of lakes, boats and green spaces.
I’ve been taking morning class at Höjden (an artist-run space in southern Stockholm) and the view over Årsta bridge, with the boats coming in and out is always stunning.
What are you doing as co-curator of ACTIVATORS?
Antony and I have spent some time throwing ideas back and forth, looking at the potential of each ACTIVATORS venue – ACCA, Melbourne Museum, MPavilion, Chapter House and Melbourne Science Gallery – particularly the architecture of each space, the indigenous land it occupies, the history, how it is used and by whom. I research and chat to artists who might be a good fit, what they are interested in, what’s current for them, and how their interests could be activated by particular framework in the spaces we have to offer.
The two venues I’m taking the lead on are Chapter House and ACCA. I’ve invited dancer/choreographer Harrison Hall (VIC) to present his interests in the changing role of the body in hybrid or virtual spaces under the umbrella of Expanded Practice: taking the lesser known or tangential aspects of his work and expanding out the content.
Harrison can invite key people both inside and outside the field of dance to present their knowledge or expertise. These figures are encouraged not to stick to their known format (a lecture, a presentation of a paper). How can associated knowledge meet in a more open, experimental format? Harrison’s Expanded Practice will form a series of videos, available online.
ACCA will be later in the year, November (fingers crossed), with a focus on absence, text and performance, involving a wider span of artists locally in Melbourne, across Australia and internationally. Stay tuned!
An egg to cuddle in – from ‘The Egg, The Cat and The Poem, Were Surface Tears’ by Pontus Petterson
What is curating?
Dance curating within Western contemporary institutions has a very recent history and can range from bespoke programming to writing copy to making publications to seeing shows to hosting Q&A’s, and much more.
As a choreographer stepping into this role for ACTIVATORS, I think a lot about positioning – what are the elements at play (public conditions, opening hours, usership, architecture, accessibility) and how can I provide a framework to create space for those elements to have agency, be in relationship or tension with each other? What sort of stealthy cultural and political networks or sites of capital are floating around, how can they be used as a material, or exposed / re-directed in an interesting way?
How are you drawn to it/inspired by it?
ACTIVATORS is tied to specific buildings and organisations in the City of Melbourne. I’m interested in how audiences connect to a space when they can’t actually be there and the artist and the organisation can’t be there either. Where does the focus or energy shift, because of this emerging absence or lack? What sort of spaces or frameworks allow these different attentions to flourish?
I have to say that even from halfway across the world, my peers and colleagues in Melbourne continue to inspire me and show incredible resilience. And those artists – or any artists anywhere working with live- body-performance, are living and making in an interesting time, to say the least. This global pandemic has completely and utterly destabilised any sense of an economic base. It has ripped away future plans (performances, residencies, tours) plus the so-called more stable ‘side jobs’ in our lives, completely exposing how precarious the nature of our gig economy is. Its also called for a time of rest, of activism and change: how do we keep going? What do we do now? How do we want our situation to be different? This is a time of reckoning in many, many ways.
There’s also lots to be interested by – like, what does a studio practice mean when you can’t go to the studio? What is sustainable? What is long-term? What does it mean to be engaged with your locality?
Shots of a work I was recently in: Hevi Metle by Ultimate Dancer (Louise Ahl), an epic installation saga of six hours, six minutes and six seconds at Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art in Newcastle, UK.
What are you reading or listening to atm?
Summer with Greta – Greta Thunberg’s extended radio essay on BBC
Cook Shmook with Gary Foley – Wrong Island podcast with Max, Sian and Freg. Produced by Oscar Jolly
Episode 11: A playlist – Land Swimming with Megan Payne and Oonagh Slater. Produced by Bus Projects
What’s Going on With Dance and Stuff – Jack Ferver and Reid Bartleme
Performing at a Distance – Ralph Lemon
Amerika – Franz Kafka
Class for a Cause – Class for A Cause is a self-organising container for sharing movement (and other?) practices. The principle is simple: Anyone can sign up below to lead a class online, and anyone is invited to follow any classes online. The leader of the class is invited to suggest a cause for donation.