A River Runs Through It: Letter From Melbourne

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Anna Breckon and Nat Randall, Rear view, 2018. Image courtesy the artist

A hundred years or so before my mother’s mother prepared to move her family from Myanmar to Calcutta, India, and then some years later on to Birmingham, my father’s ancestors travelled on convict ships to Australia. I write this to position myself in relation to Australia: Myanmar and Australia hold a special place in my imagination as countries where people somewhat like me lead radically different lives.

I arrived in Melbourne on 25 January, the day before Australia Day, a public holiday commemorating the 1788 arrival of the first fleet of British ships. This is a controversial celebration, which, despite being tied to centuries-old colonialisation, has only been a national public holiday for 30 years. Speaking to people born in Australia and to immigrants, I came to understand that a vocal community thinks that the holiday should instead mark a different moment in the country’s history, for example the day that indigenous Australians gained rights through the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975.

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hmn: The Space of Hesitation

 

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Location for hmn2: Hertsmere Road E15, 18 May 2015. Courtesy the artists

hmn is a quarterly sound-based test centre organised by artist Anne Tallentire and writer Chris Fite-Wassilak. This roaming event series, running since February 2015, is an intimate and unique platform for artists, thinkers and workers from a range of backgrounds to present new work. Conceived as an alternative space for testing ‘what sound is and can be’, each edition takes up residence for an evening in venues such as libraries and community centres across London. In a recent conversation with Beth Bramich, Tallentire and Fite-Wassilak discuss the project’s intentions and outcomes, and its ongoing development.

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Emma Smith: Euphonia

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Emma Smith, Euphonia, 2018, installation view at Bluecoat, Liverpool. Photograph: Rob Battersby © Bluecoat

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it feels like peoples’ voices have been getting louder recently. There’s an urgency bubbling, a building hum, occasionally erupting into shouts and sobs, a startling squall. In a time of social division, there are also movements to form communities and to lend our voices to causes, to find better ways to communicate and to prevent the mental anguish of isolation. The premise of Emma Smith’s exhibition ‘Euphonia’ is that through speech we are constantly making music together, and that this collective action is important for social connection. This music is made not just through song, but in our everyday social interactions, our voices unconsciously hitting complementary notes, our speech patterns merging with others’ rhythms, becoming more harmonious as we bond.

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Knotted Mass II

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Holly Slingsby, ‘Knotted Mass II’, 2016–18. Courtesy the artist.

‘Knotted Mass II’ is an artist’s book developed from Holly Slingsby’s 2016 performance of the same name at The Bower’s pop-up project, Finishing Touch, London. This work evolved from her research into the language of hair in the narratives of pop-cultural and mythical figures. It took place by candlelight, drawing from a rich selection of images, where hair is both subject and object, exploring its significance in popular culture, history, mythology and religion. ‘Knotted Mass II’ includes texts and images from the performance, new drawings, photographic documentation, and a specially commissioned text by Beth Bramich.

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Bad Vibes Club at Flat Time House

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Flat Time House is hosting The Bad Vibes Club in 2017–18. The Bad Vibes Club is a forum for research into negative states. Whilst at Flat Time House, Beth Bramich and Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau will host 6 months of reading groups, a number of live events, and the launch of a new publication in June 2018. Please come along! All welcome, if you haven’t managed to make the reading groups before, now is a great time to start.

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Failed States #1: Island

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Failed States, Photo From Cliff’s Edge, Isle of Portland, Dorset.

I took a bottle of water and a bleakening worldview. Moving forward, pretending not to be moving away from, following the A-road to the island, on the edge of the asphalt all the way along the causeway. I was attempting to come up for air in that not-quite-defeated repeating way that I do. The little bastard of optimism and the desire to be empty kept me coming round and round to this lurching motion. The island is tied, tethered at its northmost to the mainland; it rises up bluntly and then slumps forward a few miles south into the sea. The cliffside route offers breathtaking views.

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