Separating Hydrogen From Air: A Primer is a project for Next Wave Festival 2016. By asking the Festival artists to share their favourite things: books, movies, dance works, songs, podcasts, newspapers and more, as well insights into the development of their festival projects, this project offers an alternate history to the event as it is unfolding.

As a primer for curious visitors, Separating Hydrogen From Air: A Primer explores the fugitive nature of legacy and influence and offers the opportunity to delve deeper into the processes of the artists behind your favourite Festival projects. The title, which comes from one of the responses you will read within, suggests that understanding how influence works is akin to ‘trying to separate hydrogen out of the air…I know it can be done, but it involves a lot of expensive technical equipment’. During the Festival (5 – 22 May 2016) you can browse some the artists’ recommendations at the Separating Hydrogen From Air Reading Room in the foyer of Arts House.

The project also attempts to address the scarcity of archival material faced by researchers of performative or ephemeral practices, while acknowledging that it is the omissions and the curious gaps in any archive, as well as the marginalia, that are often most interesting. This website, as a companion to the limited edition publication, is an avenue to capture some of these forms of unofficial documentation: anecdote, gossip, personal reflection.

As with any archive, it is unable to be truly complete. Not every Festival project or artist is captured here, nor are the responses you read here permanent or immutable. I hope you find something you like.


Concept: Eleanor Zeichner

Logo and publication designer: Maria Smit
Website: Andrew Robards

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, The Margaret Lawrence Bequest and by Arts NSW.