The International Dance Exchange (Australia-Finland)
Picnic On the Edge
A four stage project initiated by Campbelltown Arts Centre in conjunction with Zodiak Center for New Dance with the support of the Australia Council for the Arts. Launched in 2013, the project has involved a series of residencies and exchanges between Australian and Finnish artists, in both Campbelltown and Helsinki. Each exchange involves a diverse suite of activities and outcomes, from studio time to industry visits, public performances to critical discussions. Picnic On the Edge – is a title with a periphery concept. Independent partners collaborate to engage artists considered as periphery in practice, alternative to sectors dominant, developed and maintained in mainstream.
Host Artists, Jane McKernan (AUS) and Maija Hirvanen (FIN) have joined Lizzie Thomson (AUS), Tim Darbyshire (AUS), Satu Herrala (FIN) and Jarkko Partanen (FIN) to exchange ideas, artistic works and approaches to making work over the exchange periods. The artists, and the respective venues, act as hosts on their ‘home’ ground, introducing the visiting artists to peers, venues, work and networks during their stays, and promoting both their existing work and new work created as a result of the exchange.
The project focuses on exchange as both the means and subject of research. What do we exchange? Why would we exchange? The artists explore notions of identity - locally, nationally and internationally, while exploring synergies, similarities and differences in practices and artistic works. They investigate relations between the individual and group body, as well as the locality of the body that is specific to dance.
The focus of Stage One was on sharing and responding to one another’s practices. There was a decision to privilege the site of the body as a way to share information. Laptops and phones were limited to outside the studio, so the work could be come truly local/present.
The emphasis for this stage was on sharing previous work. This not only involved showing video, photos and talking, but also had a practical component of ‘repertoire’ sharing. This opened up a mode of sharing and responding to how old works could be newly embodied. The sessions became a liminal zone between workshop and performance.
For this stage, artists shared works that are currently being developed – some were almost complete, some still seeds or fragments of ideas. There was an attention towards how we could be useful to each other – how we could try out, respond, debate, critique and share this research to aid future work. The only exchange of its kind for Australian dance artists, providing the participants with not only travel funds and residency support, but also the significant opportunity for real connections with the dance scene in Europe, through engagement with peers and venues; a platform to show work and is a demonstrated artist led project. One of the major aims of the project is to increase the visibility of Australian independent dance artists overseas, in this case in Europe; and to aid in the sustainability of a long term career, which by necessity means pursuing contexts and audiences beyond the local scene.