Minamidera by James Turrell, although I would have done it slightly differently.
I first read Kurt Vonnegut when my sister was reading Slaughterhouse Five for school and then my mum recommended Breakfast of Champions. It influenced me because it made me realise you could think outside of the box creatively and still be successful and it encouraged me to follow a tangent-of-thought style process.
I first heard about Haruki Murakami from a friend. I’m not sure if this particular book has influenced my practice, but I know it had an impact on me. I didn’t realise story telling could be so surreal and real at the same time, and feel all the more truthful for it.
The first of Nabokov’s books I read was Lolita, which I actually read for the first time when I was Lolita’s age and re-read recently as an adult. There was one particular line in the book that got to me: ‘It is hors concours, that bliss, it belongs to another class, another plane of sensitivity’. The character who makes that statement is a monster but the potency of that language and the idea of that height of pleasure, adoration, another plateau of experience, really inspired me deeply. The fact that the book is so conflicting is testament to its greatness.
I first saw a poster for Hedwig and the Angry Inch in my office, when I was working for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras over the summer of 2008/9. When I finally saw the film, I was really touched by the main character… it’s probably influenced my life more generally than my artistic practice!
La Planète Sauvage… The first time I saw this I was in awe of its sheer beauty! Then there is the moment that the gigantic blue humanoid Draags meditate…. I revisit this scene often. It gives me a way of imagining action and sensation alongside the necessity for experiencing meditative states. My experience of this scene has directly influenced my Next Wave project.
I discovered Red Desert when I was studying my Masters at uni. I was feeling creatively blocked and went to the library to get some inspiration. I had recently discovered that studio time included research and research could be watching movies. At that time all the videos were organised by director. I would get out every film made by a particular director and watch them all in a row. I think I watched almost every film in RMIT library that year. Discovering Antonioni was like discovering a whole new world. He stands as my all time favourite director.
I was introduced to Lily Tomlin’s work as a kid. Her first ever film, Robert Altman’s Nashville, is one of my all time favourites. I had no idea she had this whole theatre and comedy side to her, a woman writing her own stuff and creating her own characters on Broadway. I couldn’t quite comprehend her transformation into these wild and ridiculous and flawed characters, she got lost in them. I became pretty obsessed with this one particular character that she performed called Edith Ann, a toddler who is crass and honest and inappropriate and in turn pretty political. It’s a pretty remarkable trick to talk about serious problems with the world, within a charming and naive frame. Usually I can’t stand adults who perform as kids, but holy shit she knocks your socks off. My first ever solo work built of a Lily Tomlin-eqsue model of performance – part comedy, part drag part autobiography.
Alice Sebold’s Lucky was an assigned text for my Bachelor of Social Work training. It gave a very detailed account of Alice’s experience as a sexual assault survivor being re-traumatised, interrogated again and again through the legal system. My practice makes a stand against these unsafe spaces for women. Sedih // Sunno (Next Wave Festival 2016) creates a safe space to learn from a survivor of sexual abuse, my mother.
I’ve been reading Margaret Atwood since I was 17. Reading her is like coming home. How she has influenced me would be like trying to separate hydrogen out of the air. I mean I know it can be done but it involves a lot of expensive technical equipment.
Shadow’s Feelin’ the Feelin’ is a Trinidad and Tobago Calypso song that Fred Moten talks about as a resistance song, that through touching and feeling with others, one might imagine ways to live differently within imposed and regulated systems. This connection to feelings, to our interiority locates us in a present and to each other. I really love the political potential of this sentiment and it inspires me personally so it is hopefully in my work somewhere.
I was in love with the early work of American conceptual artist Ann Hamilton during my undergrad and read Ann Lauterbach’s Ann Hamilton Inventory of Objects. From there, I discovered her poetry, which continues to inform the way I think about text, language and matter in my own artistic practice.
I was looking for a good book to take with me on a recent trek through the Himalayas. A friend of mine suggested Murakami, and after much deliberation I chose The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle which ended up being one of my favourite books of all time. The characters in most of his books have influenced my artistic practice, they all seem to be incredibly patient and zen haha. That’s what I’m striving for.
I saw the short film ‘Deeper than Yesterday’ at the VCA graduating film course in about 2010. I was inspired by how such an amazing film could be made in Melbourne, which seemed so foreign and obscure, and frankly, out of the scope of someone working here.
Samuel Beckett was a name I knew without details on his practice (but perhaps pretended I knew more than I did at times) until I took the best unit of my undergraduate degree – a full semester seminar on the complete works of Beckett. If nothing else, Beckett’s works remind me to keep a sense of humour about things.
Lolita was a book I didn’t pick up for a long while. I thought I would struggle with the dense poetic form I had been told it contained. When I eventually decided to try it, after being coerced by a partner and a dear friend, I immediately fell in love. The opening paragraph is overwhelmingly beautiful and more then enough to make it a classic.
I have a white slightly worn shirt across which is scrolled, in my near illegible writing, light of my life, fire of my loins. I made the shirt for a film screening Nick Cave was at because I had heard it was his favorite novel as well.
I think that Lolita has bolstered an emotional driver within my work. While reading Baudelaire I came across the word dolour, a French term without direct translation, but roughly meaning an overwhelming state of sadness. I became obsessed with this word, and tried to express this feeling through my portraits.
While reading Lolita I made the connection that Nabokov, the polyglot poet, had named Lolita aka Dolores, after this word, an emotional state she ends up engulfed in. The text drove me further into narratives and questioning of dolour and our own national despondency.
Morgiana. I first saw this movie about two years ago and was obsessed with it and also confused about how I had never seen or heard about it before. I actually stumbled across an image of something from the movie; I think it was the evil sister up-close – I was bored and researched a little further and found out about it, thought it sounded good so I found a link to watch it online. Morgiana is a Czechoslovakian horror fairytale about one evil sister, one good and the effects of their fathers’ death, and subsequent inheritance on their relationship. I have resorted to watching it with no subtitles when a subtitled version can’t be found online. This un-subtitled version used to be on youtube but now that has even been taken down – Morgiana made me feel like I was watching my practice as a film and is always on my unconscious since seeing it.
The Prophet informs me morally – being such a dense almanac and life guide – I think in some weird way as a 14 year old reading this somehow encouraged me to think critically and be kind. And in a roundabout way I would say it has been an influence over the years.
Sade gives me life, so yes, she influences my practice.
What I think about when I think about dancing has been picked up many a time over the years in an attempt to make sense/verbalise the physical.
The Bible for Black Girls reminds me that sometimes the best and most life changing ideas are the simplest and can be really funny.
Rihanna and this song are deeply rooted in my practice as they are invigorating and make me want to create and get shit done.
The Birth of Pleasure by psychologist Carol Gilligan. This is a work of non-fiction, but still a work involving high levels of creative thought. I first learnt of this book and of Carol’s work, when I heard her speak at a month-long intensive workshop I was taking at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts, in 2012. Carol was talking about relationships, our relationship to relationships, to love, to sex, to intimacy and connection. I found her work quite profound and allowed me to understand some of the self-development I was going through as an actor through my training. In this book she uses the myth of Psyche and Cupid to navigate the journey of disconnection and connection (or disassociation – which is trauma, and reassociation, which is healing and creativity) in our relationships and within our own psyches.
Her writing (and my training experiences at Shakespeare & Company, which her writing was helping me to understand), has undoubtedly influenced my work and my understanding of the function of theatre. One of the ideas her book and research reinforced for me was the notion that stories can offer a pathway for our psyches to follow. We go along this journey and emerge somewhere else, along the way we the story raises questions, allows us to process things about our own experiences and potentially offers a pathway out of a tragic cycle.
Carol also speaks about the disassociation that occurs in the voice and therefore the psyche as young girls and boys are initiated into the culture. A culture where “boys don’t cry” and “women don’t take up space”, where it’s not ok for men to “act like a girl” and it is not ok for women to own their power. She talks about love, creativity and relationships as being a way in which we can heal these traumatic rifts in the psyche and be in true connection to each other and to our full humanity.
Proudhon’s What is Property? I discovered rather oddly, and it’s hard to summarise simply. A few years ago my reading strayed into the history of anarchism. Strayed because of a delayed flight at Changi Airport of all places. As a result, I learnt that the popular caricature of anarchism – you know the one – as angsty, violent, irrational and opposed to any order – think the punk teen in torn black clothing, or the violent agitators at otherwise peaceful protests – is false. I realised that my own political beliefs, which I always thought of as socialist, had far more in common with the historical anarchists, so I was curious to learn more.
Through tracing the history of the phrase “property is theft”, Proudhon entered my reading list. I always assumed that the phrase related to possession; that owning something was always at the expense of someone else. However, Proudhon is far more nuanced. In What is Property? he attempts to show how the formation of property as a right is a contradiction and an impossibility, which as an impossibility always results in crisis in long term. We never see it as the impossibility of the idea leading to crisis, as external influences clean up. Think about the 2008 global financial crisis. I cannot summarise, but highly recommend reading his arguments; so old, and so relevant.
His views on intellectual property have particularly influenced my own – that when we contribute an idea to the world, it is not a product of us alone. It is by necessity built on the intellectual labour of those who came before. We can never claim sole ownership. An idea is always the product of the culture and society that surrounds it. And as a resource, it is infinitely divisible; its sharing and equitable distribution can never exhaust its supply. These thoughts are really central to my work, as I desire to always undermine the naive myth of individual artistic genius and the fervent territorialisation of knowledge.
To A God Unknown: Pony Loren first read this 5 years ago when she was living in a trailer near the Eel River in California. Its ecosexual overtures and florid prose made a big impression on her, so we both looked at it while developing the idea for Ecosexual Bathhouse (Next Wave Festival 2016). One day we went to explore the abandoned house that Pony Ian’s father had run into ruin on the banks of the Murray River. It contained all of his father’s old possessions strewn about, childhood things and adult things all mixed and succumbing to decay. Next to his father’s bed, we found a paperback copy of To A God Unknown with a suggestive cover illustration, worn and lightly coated with mold.
I chanced upon The Island of Shattered Dreams in Moananui literary critique.
Bernard Parmegiani’s world and collage sound work taught me to follow my creative feelings, don’t try to fit anything. I met him, thanks to another great French composer and artistic director Christian Zanesi, and he was an honest, funny, generous person, as are his compositions.
David Sedaris’ book Me Talk Pretty One Day really inspired me to keep my own voice in my writing. It also encouraged me to be able to share my stories. I was introduced to David Sedaris’ writing by my friend Siri May when I was depressed and sleeping on her lounge.
Dan Graham’s work I came across because I liked the title and cover design. It’s a collection of his essays. His ability to take a critical look at music and its socio-political context through visual art and performance has influenced my work immensely.
The Red Tent is a historical/fiction version of the women from the Bible. It explores birth, womanhood, sisters and female strength. This book always calms me, I almost read it once a year. As a refresher on strong ties to women and reminding myself of the importance of that.
I saw Nicolas Provost in my video art class in university and it has influenced my practice immensely. I saw Time to Dance online, it has greatly influenced my practice.