Talking Back

MAV is excited to partner with Darebin Council’s Fuse Festival on the development of a new Australian work, Talking Back.

Talking Back is an artist led, anti-racism intervention aimed at taking back how people of colour are engaged with on the streets of Melbourne. It responds to ongoing feedback from diverse communities about the experience of racialized language and gaze in public spaces. This manifests as racist slurs, negative or judgemental commentary, and verbal or physical intimidation. These experiences run counter to a narrative of Melbourne as a successful multicultural city. The project enables both truth-telling and a reshaping of the role of racism in the lives of culturally diverse communities, through an artistic lens.

The impetus for this project has been conversations with culturally diverse artists about experiences of personal and cultural safety, and the role of the arts in challenging mainstream behaviours in public spaces. It enables us to bring in a range of artform practices to design artistic interventions into a little talked about socio-political landscape.

With support from the Australia Council, Talking Back is a runway show with a difference. 28 artists of colour will create and present performance pieces that challenge dominant cultural narratives by addressing and subverting notions of behaviour, fashion, physical appearance and movement within public space. This will be an artist led project, designed utilising a cultural framework that empowers community members to direct their engagement with the project and to have decision making control over processes and outcomes. The project will connect visual artists and designers with dance/physical theatre and spoken word artists for a series of workshops to consider how people might use a creative or artistic process to reclaim access to public spaces and speak back to the experience of racialized gaze. These creative exchanges will result in new works that extend the boundaries of each of these forms, to create conversations into the experiences of diverse communities. The work will be presented in a number of forums within the City of Darebin, and culminate in Fuse Festival next March.

The EOIs for participating artists will be out soon, so keep an eye out and let us know if you’d like to be involved!