Incoming works in progress for 2023-24
A huge thanks to our 196 applicants across CultureLAB and The Warehouse Residency this year. In my early days as co-Artistic Director, it was a distinct privilege to pore over your ideas, idioms and mediums and our work at Arts House is vitally affirmed by your faith in us to collaborate on them.
Over 17 years, CultureLAB has functioned as a development program for risky encounters and shaped many experimental artists and ideas aiming to destroy the dichotomy between professional and community-engaged art. Our latest initiative, The Warehouse Residency, has been a landmark program in thinking through experimental and aesthetic access. Both programs are a commissioning pipeline for our new works and the Arts House team are all completely beside ourselves to be inviting 11 projects at different stages of development into our spaces over the next year.
It is indeed humbling that 5 of these 11 projects are by artists and voices completely new to us, and a further 4 of them will be making work at Arts House for the first time. Through this program, our first international recipients Jahra Wasasala (Fijian/Pakeha) and Ooshcon (Samoan/Palagi) will be joining us from across the ditch in an exciting partnership with Basement Theatre Aotearoa. Some rad ideas in the mix of projects include a mushroom experimental opera, vampire-making with digital remains through AV tech in a meditation on death, a meeting of Sufi mysticisms and Virtual Reality in a bio-responsive installation, and a proposition to form a new collective of female-identifying sound artists with SWANA (South West Asia and North Africa) heritages. There are collaborations with wrestlers and martial artists and even a visually impaired motorcyclist and mechanic. Artists with a meaningful lineage and cultural practices from Māori Mau rākau to street dance and busking histories will be making their first full length works. And the inimitable Kamarra Bell-Wykes (Yagera/Butchulla) will be revisiting her acclaimed debut with ILBIJERRI from two decades ago for a site-specific evolution adapted for an active railway station with BlakDance.
Our cultural institutions have long been in a gilded cage but culture does not evolve in isolation. It must morph in conversation, or it will fossilise. Massive thanks to our conversants, ACCA, BlakDance and Basement Theatre Aotearoa for working with us as CultureLAB turns 18 and matures into adulthood. To peers who assisted with seemingly impossible decisions across all EOIs – Laila Thaker, Ayeesha Ash, Riana Head-Toussaint, Natalie Hennedige, KeeHong Low, Hannah Morphy-Walsh, Sarah Houbolt, TextaQueen, Artemis Derlanea Muñoz and Sam Martin – your illuminations and insights have been most valuable.
All these projects are sensitive and well-oriented, and we are committed to honouring the work of structural change in step with their decolonial imaginings so we may be worthy of presenting them in the future.
In Arabic, أَهْلًا وَسَهْلًا, is both used as a greeting to say hello and to denote a warm welcome. Ahlan wa sahlan to you all, we are thrilled.
– Nithya Nagarajan, co-Artistic Director with the Arts House team
Hero image: Jagad by Monica Lim, Rianto and Melanie Lane. Developed through CultureLAB 2020-21. Presented as part of Arts House Season 2, 2022. Image by Tiffany Garvie.