Disabled activist and media maker Alice Wong is the First Speaker in this compelling Assembly for the Future. Speaking from 2029, she is the Last Disabled Oracle, describing a world in which people with congenital disabilities are close to extinction due to technologies such as human gene editing. As part of the last generation with a neuromuscular disability, Wong shares the efforts of her fellow disabled oracles as they struggle to live as they are in a time when perfection is attainable through modifications and cures. In a culture that worships enhancement, health, youth, and beauty, disabled people in 2029 warn about the wisdom and lived experiences lost in the name of eliminating pain and suffering.
Oracles are not beloved – they are barely tolerated. They’re considered naysayers, exaggerating irrational concerns. Yet these are the people asking the most important of questions, such as: Who and what is left behind in the name of ‘progress’ and a better future? Where can we find resistance and acceptance and how do we sustain it? What does it mean that there were people in 2020 who couldn’t see a future for themselves in times of upheaval, genocide, and hate – and that there are still people nine years later who can’t see themselves in the future as well? What are the lessons learned from disabled people during the 2020 pandemic that should be taken seriously in 2029 as we experience multiple pandemics and natural disasters? What is the price of convenience and a ‘better chance at life’? How can our ancestors teach us about the future by sharing their stories and culture?
Time marches forward and there’s no stopping change. This doesn’t mean we can’t resist and fight for a place for all of us.
- Presented by Arts House, City of Melbourne as part of BLEED 2020.
- Keeper of Time and coCurator for the Future: Alex Kelly
- Dramaturg and coCurator for the Future: David Pledger
- Producer for the Future: Sophia Marinos
- First Speaker: Alice Wong
- Respondents: Kera O’Regan, Anja Kanngieser
- Moderators: Pippa Bailey, Tim Baker, Amber Hammill, Debris Facility, El Gibbs, Tim Hollo, Sophie Hyde, Eleanor Jackson, Jordan Lacey, Huong Truong
- Assembly Artists in Residence: Jinghua Qian, Joshua Santospirito
- Usher: Robbie McEwan
- Future Archive Commission: Gillian Lever, Lisa Bartolomei, Sophie Gleeson
- Future Archive: Lawrence Harvey and SIAL Studios RMIT
- Composer: Aaron Cupples
- Visual Design: Elliat Rich
- Assembly for the Future is a project of The Things We Did Next collaboration. The Things We Did Next is co-created by Alex Kelly & David Pledger and produced by Not Yet It’s Difficult and Something Somewhere Inc.
- This work is supported by Arts House, City of Melbourne as part of BLEED 2020, The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Bertha Foundation, Monash Climate Change Communications Research Hub and RMIT SIAL Studios.
- This work was developed with the generous support of Arts House CultureLAB, Arts NT, Australia Council for the Arts, Besen Foundation and Vitalstatistix Adhocracy program.
- BLEED is conceived, produced and presented by City of Melbourne through Arts House and Campbelltown City Council through Campbelltown Arts Centre. BLEED has been assisted by the Federal Government through Australia Council for the Arts, its funding and advisory body.
Schedule10:00 AM AEST
Thursday 6 August
Duration: 120 mins
FREE, booking required.
Registrations will close at
3pm on Wednesday 5 August.
This is a ZOOM event
Alice Wong is a disabled activist, media maker, and consultant. She is the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project® (DVP), an online community dedicated to creating, sharing and amplifying disability media and culture created in 2014. Alice is also a co-partner in four projects: DisabledWriters.com, a resource to help editors connect with disabled writers and journalists, #CripLit, a series of Twitter chats for disabled writers with novelist Nicola Griffith, #CripTheVote, a nonpartisan online movement encouraging the political participation of disabled people with co-partners Andrew Pulrang and Gregg Beratan, and Access Is Love with co-partners Mia Mingus and Sandy Ho, a campaign that aims to help build a world where accessibility is understood as an act of love instead of a burden or an afterthought. Currently, Alice is the editor of Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-first Century, an anthology of essays by disabled people, coming out 30 June, 2020 by Vintage Books.
Kera Sherwood-O’Regan (Kāi Tahu, Te Waipounamu) is an indigenous multidisciplinary storyteller and activist based in Aotearoa New Zealand. She leads social impact agency, Activate [www.activate.film], to co-create community-led stories and projects for social change. Kera’s work and activism centres structurally oppressed communities in social change, and crosses the intersections of indigenous and disability rights, hauora (health), and climate change. She is also the Founder of Fibromyalgia Aotearoa NZ [www.fibromyalgia.org.nz], and in her spare time organises for ethical representation in media, and collaborates with many NGOs on issues of climate and disability justice.
Dr Anja Kanngieser is a geographer and sound artist. They are the author of Experimental Politics and the Making of Worlds (2013) and Between Sound and Silence: Listening towards Environmental Justice (forthcoming).Their audio work has been featured on Documenta 14 Radio, BBC 3, ABC Radio National, The Natural History Museum London, Arts Centre Melbourne, Radio del Museo Reina Sofía, Deutschland Radio and QAGOMA. They have facilitated sound events with Live Art Development Agency, Sound and Music and 2 Degrees Festival/Arts Admin. Anja’s work looks to the intersections of community organising, self-determination, ecology, and listening; their current projects use oral testimony and field recordings to amplify community resistance to resource extraction, environmental racism and ecological disaster in Oceania. http://anjakanngieser.com/
Pippa Bailey grew up on Gadigal Land in Sydney, starting her career as a performer and reporter/producer with SBSTV. Pippa spent many years in the UK where she was Artistic Director for The Museum Of London’s South Bank. Pippa produced the Total Theatre Awards at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2007-12. Pippa returned to Australia in 2013 and joined Performing Lines as Senior Producer. Pippa was senior producer at Sydney Festival 2019. She is on the Advisory Board of IETM – International Performing Arts Network (Brussels) and a board member of Theatre Network NSW.
Tim Baker is an author, journalist and storyteller specializing in surfing history and culture, working across a variety of media from books and magazines to film, video, and theatre. Tim is the best-selling author of Occy, High Surf, Bustin’ Down The Door, Surf For Your Life, Century of Surf and Surfari. He is a former editor of Tracks and Surfing Life magazines, and a three-time winner of the Surfing Australia Hall of Fame Culture Award.
Amber Hammill is a communications specialist with many hats. She has worked and volunteered in a variety of roles across community engagement, health information, publishing, politics, community radio, higher education and research. At present, she is a PhD candidate researching the experience of radio as company with older listeners in Aotearoa/New Zealand. An aspiring gardener, podcast enthusiast and perennially novice knitter, Amber thrives on new challenges and the never-ending possibilities of listening, learning and considering new ideas. To date, Amber has made homes in Australia, Japan, England, Northern Ireland and New Zealand. She cycles, swims, climbs trees and walks in the grass barefoot at any opportunity. She regularly considers a Tank Girl-inspired future replete with female agency, relentless compassion, and a more respectful working relationship with non-human beings.
Debris Facility Pty Ltd is a queer corporate entity formed in 2015 after 10 years of “solo” artistic activity. Usually inhabiting one embodiment, it works to disrupt boundaries of singular and multiple agencies. The Facility’s mobius input and output redeploy the im/material waste from creative industries. Through utilising organisations as critical spatial practice, we highlight and morph existing exchange mechanisms. Through pedagogical commitments to Liquid Architecture, Victorian College of the Arts and Monash University, we extend our discursive investments.
El Gibbs is the Director, Media and Communications for People with Disability Australia. She is also an award-winning writer with a focus on disability and social issues, published widely. Her work is available at elgibbs.com.au. El spends far too much time on Twitter at @bluntshovels.
Tim Hollo is Executive Director of the Green Institute, where he leads thinking around ecological political philosophy and practice, and drives policy discussion around Rights of Nature, Universal Basic Income and participatory democracy. He is currently a visiting fellow at the Australian National University’s School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet). In 2013, he founded Green Music Australia, an organisation which brings together his environmental activism with his experience as a musician, having recorded 8 albums and toured nationally and globally.
Sophie Hyde is a founding member of film collective Closer Productions. She lives and works onthe lands of the Kaurna people in South Australia and makes provocative and intimate films andtelevision. Her debut feature drama 52 Tuesdays (director/producer/co-writer) won the directing award at Sundance and the Crystal Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. She directed and produced theAustralian/Irish co-production Animals starring Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat, whichpremiered in Sundance 2019 and won a BIFA for Best Debut Screenplay. She created, producedand directed episodic series F*!#ing Adelaide, which premiered in competition at Series Mania andscreened on ABC Australia. She created, produced and directed (EP4) the 4 x 1-hour series TheHunting, which won two Australian Academy Awards for Best Screenplay in Television and BestSupporting Actor for Richard Roxburgh. Commissioned by SBS, it has become their most watchedcommissioned program ever. Sophie’s feature documentaries include Life in Movement (producer /co-director), winner of the Australian Documentary Prize, Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure (producer) and Sam Klemke’s Time Machine (producer), which both premiered at Sundance Film Festival, and In My Blood It Runs (Producer) which premiered at Hotdocs, had a very successful cinema run, and will soon screen on PBS (USA), ARTE (France and Germany) and ABC (Australia).
Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer and community radio broadcaster. Author of A Leaving (Vagabond Press), her live album, One Night Wonders, is produced by Going Down Swinging. A passionate advocate for diverse and inclusive cultures, she is a former Editor-in-Chief and now Chair of Peril Magazine. She has previously held roles as Vice-Chair of The Stella Prize and Board Member for Queensland Poetry Festival.
Jordan Lacey is a writer, curator, composer and researcher of sounds, ambiances, and artistic methodologies. He is based in the School of Design at RMIT University. Jordan recently curated the Translating Ambiance exhibition, a hybrid sound-art exhibition-ethnography research event. He is author of Sonic Rupture.
Huong Truong is a community activist based in Melbourne’s Western suburbs. She is currently Co-Convenor of the Greater Sunshine Community Alliance. She is also a former Greens Victorian Parliamentarian, local government officer and union organiser.
Jinghua Qian is a Shanghainese writer living in Melbourne on the lands of the Kulin nation. Ey has written on desire, resistance and diaspora for Popula, Sydney Morning Herald, Overland and Meanjin.
Joshua Santospirito is a graphic novelist, artist, musician and writer who lives in Hobart, Tasmania. He enjoys sitting on his couch and avoiding making art, music and writing. His work is concerned with place, identity and other interesting things like that. He is currently co-president of the Comic Art Workshop, an artist run organisation that workshops ambitious comics. He runs the Moon Shed in Hobart with fellow artist Leigh Rigozzi.
Sophia Marinos has worked in diverse areas of social justice and the arts, both internationally and locally. Sophia was the creative producer of Big hART’s multi-platform Namatjira project from 2009-2018, leading a successful and historic campaign to restore the copyright in Albert Namatjira’s works to his family. With Big hART she was National Producer, producing numerous theatrical works, community engagement programs and social impact campaigns, on issues as diverse as slavery at sea, Indigenous languages policy, cultural diversity and Indigenous incarceration. She has produced Man With The Iron Neck for Legs On The Wall; worked with Indigenous strategic design and technology company Old Ways, New on how Indigenous Knowledges can inform new and emerging technologies; produced monthly singing events for The Welcome Choir; and has worked with Bob Brown Foundation.
Robbie McEwan is a cross-platform producer, filmmaker and assistant director from Aotearoa New Zealand who has produced with Screen Australia and screened films at MIFF, SFF, MQFF and international festivals. Robbie’s audio productions have been broadcast on RNZ National, ABC RN’s 360documentaries and Earshot. For the audio feature ‘Chasing Meteors’ he received a 2017 Kavli Science Journalism Award for Excellence in Audio Reporting from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
More Assembly for the Future
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