ArtsLab is Shopfront Arts Co-op’s emerging artist residency program which offers free space, masterclasses, networking opportunities and professional mentorships over a six-month period. At the end of the residency the participants present their work to the public. More than just about creating work, ArtsLab teaches young artists how to create a sustainable career in the arts.
ArtsLab: Here we are again! at 107 Projects in Redfern presents three new works by the four emerging artists who recently completed the residency.
Written and directed by Varuna Naicker, Dalo Chips and Imli Chutney explores three generations of Fijian-Indian women as they struggle to connect to their own identity and to each other. Amma (Veena Sudarshan) is the grandmother who embodies tradition and culture, while her daughter, Kavita (Karina Bracken) pushes back against it. We see Piyal (Madhullika Singh), daughter and granddaughter, exist within a modern world but with a deep curiosity about her culture. This causes friction with her mother but in time leads to revelations that change all of them, their perspective of each other and ultimately their perspective of themselves.
Despite a few stumbles with the dialogue (which were glossed over perfectly), the performance was well cast and created a believable and vulnerable family dynamic. Naicker has created a cohesive and engaging narrative that will open your eyes to a different perspective on immigration and this notion of what it means to belong. We are reminded that everyone has a story – even your own family.
Sarah Carroll’s Unkissed is an hilarious and entertaining monologue about the performers quest for the perfect kiss. And not just any kiss – this will be the 24-year old’s very first kiss. No pressure. We are shown a detailed and extensively researched presentation that provides tips for achieving that perfect kiss, examples of great movie kisses and even some hot tips from the public.
There is audience participation, so be prepared for that, and you will never look at fettuccini in the same way again, but Carroll creates an intoxicating party atmosphere that both made me feel old and made be feel 13 all at once. It was like every slumber party I ever attended as a teenager and that ability to truly transport people and make them laugh is an incredible gift – one that Carroll is particularly skilled at.
Whispers and Tea uses film and photography to delve into two contrasting worlds of South Asian culture and the LGBTQ+ community. Artists Saarah Hanif and Sivani Yaddanapudi’s work takes a deeply personal look at what this can look like when balancing between these two aspects. Ideas of identity and loneliness are explored, and again there is this sense of what does it mean to belong, to know yourself.
The photographs are beautiful, in particular the portrait imagery is incredibly powerful. Unfortunately, the night I attended there were a number of visitors and it made it difficult to hear the audio on the documentary. Despite this, it was well shot, presenting candid reflections and poignant moments of vulnerability.
Overall, the calibre of work presented was impressive and demonstrates the importance of programs like ArtsLab. Having access to guidance, knowledge and encouragement can make such a huge difference to an artist in the early stages of their career. I sincerely hope that residencies such as this carry on into the future and continue to gift us with the next generation of outstanding talent.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
ArtsLab: Here we are again! will be on until 27 November 2022.
For more information head to 107 Projects website.
Reviewer attended on 24 November 2022.