Transformative Texts for Turbulent Times

As the world is more uncertain and downright dangerous than ever, it’s arts and culture that is helping  us through, helping us make sense of this moment we’re all in.

We thought we’d check in with the artists we’re working with and our team to see what content they are turning to. We’ve compiled a selection of books, classes, TV shows, soundscapes, movies, articles and more that provide space to think, feel connected, laugh or just zone out from things, even for a moment.

Amrita Hepi | Choreographer / Performer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WATCHING

  • Tampopo (and then cooking) a favourite film <3 A truck driver stops at a small family-run noodle shop and decides to help its fledgling business. The story is intertwined with various vignettes about the relationship of love and food.
  • 2 Lizards by Meriem Bennani (On Instagram) IMO my favourite art to come out of this weirdo time. 4 part mini series about 2 lizards in the pandemic
  • 1st ep of Season 3 of Killing Eve is up on ABC iView now!!! Our fave well dressed assassin Villanelle returns <3 <3
  • Little Fires Everywhere – (you can stream for free on popcorn time) kinda trashy but I stan watching midwest Reese Witherspoon going all white woman cray in a face off against Kerri Washington (who plays a kind of baffling tortured artist)….mostly centres around motherhood but a drama worth the stream.

Also notable: The Bisexual (On Stan), Crashing and of course Unorthodox and Ozark (Netflix).

 

MIXTAPE
Listening to Yaeji’s Hyperpop playlist on Spotify and her new album What We Drew 우리가 그려왔던 – featuring Sydney’s very own Rainbow Chan.

 

PODCAST
Red Scare is a cultural commentary podcast hosted by bohemian layabouts Anna Khachiyan and Dasha Nekrasova. Their episode with Angela Nagle is a fave – and the two latest eps with Hari Nef and also Steve Bannon was a lol. They’ve been called gleefully offensive, ideological terrorists and glorious provocateurs. Have a listen and dont shoot the messenger.

 

ONLINE INTERACTIVE

  • Lucy Guerin Inc is like all others doing the good thing and hosting online classes – I’m still wrapping my head around dancing alone together but these have been good with Jo Lloyd, Bec Jensen, Melanie Lane.
  • I’ve also been taking a free online class/course by MOOC on art in the public realm, which is free and interesting.
  • One of my favourite dance classes in Melb is Groove Melb hosted by Aisha Kuryana – very fun!

 

BOOKS/READING
Jenny Offil’s Dept. of Speculation has been revisited, I just ordered Jenny Odell’s How to do Nothing – I was apprehensive to read this but then listened to a podcast (new models) where she spoke about her practice and was very very impressed. Also been ripping all of the recipes from Alison Roman’s Nothing Fancy.

 

ARTICLES
I don’t know why I keep thinking about this article – maybe because I’m making tonnes of pasta and lighting my new fireplace at home and pretending I’m elsewhere, but I liked this sweet small read on solitude (Jia Tolentino’s articles/book trick mirror is available for a more long form read).

Alex Desebrock | Maybe (   ) Together

New Victory has been remarkable in getting content online created and performed by their Teaching Artists.

Some are better than others, but they have quickly mobilised their creatives to get “testing”. It’s transcribed, at home and quite often awkward-hilarious.

Mararo Wangai | Playwright & Performer

 

 

 

 

 

Gaming
Recently purchased a strategy called Realpolitiks in which one gets to run a country and all it’s many exciting difficulties in the hope of not turning into a tyrant – unless that is what you wish to be. Lots of fun, strategy and who knew that Non For Profit NGO’s could be such a headache in running a state? Available for Switch and PC on G2A for a very modest amount.

 

Music

  • NPR Tiny Desk Concerts: Almost all my favourite artists are featured and I am forever finding new artists I never knew existed – standouts have been Noname, Christian Scott aTunde, Anderson.Paak, The Internet, St Paul and the Broken Bones, H.E.R., Oliver Mtukudzi – I can’t stop now! Always a beautifully intimate way to connect with artists which is what I’m miss from performances at The Blue Room Theatre and Mojos Bar in Fremantle.

 

Books
I am a ferocious reader and usually have several books on the go. At the moment I am loving:

  • Conversations With August Wilson, which is a door into his mind through interviews. He is a genius of a playwright, storyteller and, as Cornel West would put it, ‘truth teller’. He is the author of Fences, The Piano Lesson, Joe Turners Come and Gone, Ma Raineys Black Bottom to name but a few. He continues to amaze me as a writer and his worlds and characters continue to inspire me when the creative furnace is low on fuel.

Three other books that have the rest of my attention are: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; KWANI? African writers series curated by Binyavangi Wainaina; Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin.

 

Films

  • I was recently blown away by I Called Him Morgan about the legendary Jazz musician Lee Morgan, available on Netflix.
  • But I would I highly recommend checking out and joining Kanopya free online platform with even more films than Stan and Netflix all you need is a library card, staying in touch when your on a budget.

Loren Kronemyer | Pony Express

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alone on SBS
A bunch of self-proclaimed survival and bush-craft experts get dropped off at separate coves in rugged Patagonia; whoever can live off the land the longest wins 500,000. The premise sounds like familiar reality TV crap, but a few things about this offering really captured my imagination. Instead of a camera crew, contestants must film themselves, and the ways they choose to perform for the camera and represent their own experiences are fascinating. The cast includes some real characters, including a few formidable women who defy much of the macho nonsense spouted by the early-outs. The real survival lessons here are the soft skills that also apply to the quarantine era: being able to self-soothe, to create comfort from nothing, to fill the hours with tasks that nurture you, and to find humor even in exhaustion and emptiness. An engaging watch, even for someone who’s isn’t obsessed with queer survivalism and performance for the camera. Stream it now>>

 

Writing fan-mail
Now that we are all united in a state of simultaneous busyness / leisure, it’s the perfect time to reach out to the inspiring leaders, creators, and strangers on your radar and let them know why you love them. You know they’re home! You will probably get a response. I’ve made a practice of sending fan-mail whenever something really captures my imagination, and it’s led to lots of meaningful correspondences and relationships with folks I respect. It takes only a few seconds to formulate an email or message saying “Fantastic article/artwork/album, here’s what it made me think, keep the good stuff comin’!”. Maintaining creative practice in the absence of a tangible audience can be draining at the best of times, so pipe up if you got something generative to share with the makers in your orbit.

 

Earth Emotions by Glenn Albrecht
Glenn Albrecht has been writing about the psychological states incurred by global ecocide for a long time. He has coined words like Solastaglia and Terrafurie to create a new lexicon for the Symbiocene, articulating emotional states that arise in response to the unprecedented crises of climate change and mass extinction. This book may come in handy for the task of confronting the big and small fires currently burning in our hearts. Buy from your local book seller.

 

This bootleg Drag Race zoom background generator, by redditor u/denneval.
Life already feels like an endless, absurdist, high-stakes gameshow rigged by the hands of invisible and untrustworthy producers. Let your next zoom meeting reflect that with this Drag Race confessional background generator. Plug in your name and profile image, select the backdrop of your choice, and add to zoom via the Virtual Background function. Sissy Space-X has joined the chat. Check it out

 

Fountain by Lyra Pramuk
The pandemic’s impact on the release cycle of popular music has produced mixed results so far. Lady Gaga has decided to withhold her new album until she can promote it on the road; meanwhile Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia was leaked and subsequently released to thirsty audiences, making her the de facto pop princess of the kingdom of Quarantina. Although optimized for the dance floor, Future Nostalgia is now forever linked in my mind to the first couple weeks of lockdown, where I played it on loop while chopping and stacking endless piles of firewood in preparation for winter in regional Tasmania.  Artists brave enough to release music at this time are rewarded with a uniquely captive audience ready to imprint their work with indelible memories. My favorite record from this period so far has to be Fountain by Lyra Pramuk. This is one for settling in and going deep. The compositions are created entirely from samples of Pramuk’s singular voice and body (how apt), woven into rich orchestrations that invite you into a visceral transhuman playground. In the time-warp of global pandemic, this record is a startlingly intimate experience worth savoring. Listen here>>

Thom Smyth | Producer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atlantics (Atlantique), directed by Mati Diop
A supernatural millennial romance about wage theft and migration in Senegal. It’s extraordinary, from the first-time performers in the cast to the cinematography to the soundtrack by Fatima al-Qadiri. It’s available now on Netflix. Watch now>>

 

The Bearded Tit Toilets Soundtrack Vol 3 by stereogamous
You may be missing the sounds, smells and touch of the people and places you hold nearest and dearest. I am. Sydney gunkle lifeforce stereogamous have released the third instalment of their epic ongoing audio odyssey so you can reminisce at home, rather than just in Australia’s best bathroom at our beloved Bearded Tit. Listen now>>

 

Nice Try! Podcast by Avery Trufelman
This seems like the perfect time to tune into a sweet, funny and smart podcast about failed utopias. From Jamestown, Virginia to Chandigarh and Disneyland, it looks at when the human strive for societal “perfection” goes tragically, viciously or sometimes hilariously awry. Listen now>>

 

Grumble Boogie by Betty Grumble
A daily disco workout to keep you grounded, connected, kind and sweaty. Hop onto Instagram or Facebook Live at 10am AEST daily to have all your Aerobics Eco Style fantasies fulfilled. Thank you body! Check it out>>

 

Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg
Did you know that human stress levels drop by as much as 20% when you walk through urban green space? This is a fascinating and feel-good read about the health and financial benefits of “social infrastructure”, like libraries, community gardens, schools and parks. Check it out>>

 

I’ll be your Empress Of by Empress Of
I love her. This album was written, recorded and produced by Empress Of over just 2 months in her bedroom after a breakup. It’s all about overcoming trauma, finding comfort in solitude, and the occasional night of wild sweaty dancefloor action. Seems fitting at the moment. She’s amazing. Listen now>>

Dean Cross | Producer & Visual Artist

  • This article I found interesting – a useful reminder.

 

 

  • And I have been re-reading a book of essays called ‘Counter Memorial Aesthetics’ – here is one of the essays which I liked.

 

  • But what I have enjoyed most is turning all of my screens off and looking out the window and spending better quality time with my partner!

Ian Sinclair | Pony Express

 

 

 

 

The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay
A super new Australian novel about a virus called ‘Zooflu’ leading to government lockdowns and generating widespread hysteria – so there you go.  But when people are infected with this “talking animal disease” develop the discombobulating ability to understand non-human animals. The animals talk in prose. It’s perfect. Buy it now – so you can say you read it before the ABC TV series.

 

Chiara Bersani’s work and activism
Italian artist Bersani’s article on COVID-19 and disability is the most profound reflection on access, crisis, and artistic process. Check out her article  and also her incredible creative practice. One of the best and important performance artists working today.

 

Six Feet Apart with Alex Wagner | Crooked Media
Journalist and co-host of Showtime’s The Circus, Wagner brings everyday stories of how people survive and thrive during this time. There’s heaps of podcast content on COVID – but this is the most interesting. Listen now>>

 

Yves Tumor | Heaven to a Tortured Mind
This album is so fun. It’s the perfect thing to be isolated in your living room with. Listen now>>

 

New Weird Australia – Volumes 1,2 and 3
The experimental music platform New Weird Australia is closing up shop, after highlighting innovative local sound for the last few years and has a released a curated, three-volume set titled Passages of their back catalog. If you want to hear what my late 20’s sounded like, Here you go.

 

The Good Fight Season 4 | CBS All Access
Christine Branski! Christine Branski! Christine Branski! This show is the queerest thing on TV or perhaps of anything ever. It’s high-kick litigating its way to a streaming site near you.

 

Tales from the Loop | Amazon Prime Video
You know that TV show that none of your housemates will watch because it’s ‘boring’ –  well they are wrong. Who’s not into a slow-moving sci-fi based off a series of artworks by Simon Stalenhag with robots, Scandinavian furniture and Rebecca Hall’s gorgeous, silky hair acting? Streaming on Amazon Prime.

 

Florence Pugh’s Isolation Cooking Show on her Instagram is the only thing keeping me going to be honest. She made a butternut pumpkin soup which looked pretty okay. I wish I had her kitchen. You can even get merch!

Zainab Syed | Producer & Poet

 

 

 

 

School of Life
An online collection essays, games, writings, musings helping people lead more fulfilling lives. Topics include work, relationships, self knowledge, socialbility, calm, leisure. Sign up for the newsletter & enjoy diving deep into the universe inside of you. Check it out>>

 

Qad Kafani
A recording of ancient poem from the Islamic Tradition written by the Yemeni saint Imam ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Alawī al-Ḥaddād (1634–1720 CE) to be read/listened to during times of hardship, stress and anxiety. Often considered a balm to heal the heart.  Watch the video on the left.

 

Some Good News
Because who doesn’t love some feel good news & a dose of John Krasinski every week? Watch now>>

 

The World is Too Much with Me by Allan Lightman
A beautiful and meditative essay written many years before the pandemic, but even more relevant today. Read it now>>

 

Button Poetry
The home of Spoken Word Poetry in the United States. Some of the finest on here. Check out Anis Mojgani, Sarah Kay, Phil Kaye, Safia Elhilo, Fatimah Asghar, Jamila Woods, Franny Choi to name a few. You can subscribe to their YouTube channel for all of the goodness. Also, get 40% off ebooks & audiobooks for the month of April! Happy Poetry Month, y’all! Check it out here>>

 

Smitten Kitchen
Favourite recipes on the interwebz. I’m really into this Easy Jam Tart these days. But anything she makes, I 100% vouch for. Get the goods>>

Will O’Mahony | Playwright, Director & Performer

The Sopranos
Never got around to watching this iconic show about a mafia boss at war with himself trying to understand what it is to be a good man and a good father. The soundtrack that accompanies each episode’s closing credits is also a treat. If we are indeed in TV’s golden age, it seems right to know what lead the way.

 

Drumming in 6/8
I’ve spent years of my life drumming and have never really felt at home in this time signature. 4/4 seems so ingrained – a prison when thinking about rhythm and dynamic. When the lockdown ends I’m determined to emerge with 6/8 in my bones.

 

A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggars
Re-reading this story about an American Salesman in a Saudi Arabian purgatory is just the tonic for these times. The writing is so clean and unassuming and patient. The character is made so powerless and irrelevant by globalisms march but his efforts to find connection, meaning and dignity are strangely touching and heroic.

 

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff
Shoshana Zuboff’s searing analysis of big data and behaviour modification is compelling and alarming. She tells the story of how Google and Facebook pioneered a new capitalism – one that threatens the very notion of sanctuary and the right to stillness and silence.

 

Gardening 
My garden has become something of a new obsession these last 6 months. What was a sandpit is slowly but surely turning into a little green oasis. So Covid19 has just given me more permission to spend time with my plants. The drama is that my dog, Des – a kelpie huntaway cross – loves the odd dig when starved of attention.

 

 

In everything we do, we acknowledge that we live on Aboriginal land and constantly learn from the wisdom of our First Peoples.

Where we are and the history that precedes us informs how we work and how we move forward.