Emerging and Experimental

The Australia Council for the Arts supports artists to take creative risks and develop new types of artistic expression.

Australian experimental arts explore challenging new concepts in the creation and experience of arts and culture. Artists take new approaches to seeding, creating and presenting art through innovative partnerships and collaborative creative processes.

The projects we fund are highly conceptual, contextual and relational. They play with or invent new forms, methodologies, technologies or explore non-material ideas.

These sometimes include art/science research collaborations, bio art, live art, socially engaged practices and new technologies. They often explore ecology, sustainability, urban renewal, and other cultural issues.

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Australian experimental arts explore challenging new concepts in the creation and experience of arts and culture.

Australia Council Emerging & Experimental Arts Award - Madeleine Flynn Q&A

What does winning the award mean to you?
For me, this award is an extraordinary marking of public value in a private act. When I found out I had been given this award, I burst into tears. Tears of gratitude, tears of relief. Tears of surprise. Awards in life are rare beasts: and make me think about all the people who have got me to here-artists, family, peers, people and audiences who have brought their attention/expertise to art. As partners in life and art, Tim and I take risks together. This awards gives a moment for us to celebrate this. It also means we can fix the roof which is suffering with climate change related water management issues.

What are you currently working on?
Three month time frame…
Presenting... Between 8 and 9: new work with CMO and Sichuan Conservatory for AsiaTOPA
Acoustic Life of Sheds with Big Hart, Ten Days on the Island
The megaphone project at The Substation
Five Short Blasts Shoreham for Brighton Festival UK
New work for Theatre der Welt, Hamburg (program not released yet…)
Weekly Ticket, the artist at the station.
Developing…
New work with Korean collaborators at ArtsHouse/Playking...The Man who walks to the Sea
New work with Jodee Mundy, Jen Hector and Rhian Hinkley,
Bang, Crunch, Shriek, Whimper: the sound of existential risk. Live Umbrella Finland and the Scott
Polar Research Institute...
And other developments which cannot yet be revealed!
Parenting a young person in Year 12, last year of school.

What is the best piece of career advice you would give your younger self?
While I don’t think of art as a career, I do think of art as an unfolding act.
And to my teenage self I say: Compliance is not necessary. And again, compliance is not necessary.
That strange bit is the bit that will help you flourish. Don’t be afraid of it.
To my younger adult self I say: You know those senses of things you have? You can bring them in to being.
What I know now: Art is made by teams of people, creating temporary communities. Your activist self, and art self can be entwined. Experimental arts practice is an international ecology, with an urgent task, whose time is now.

What inspires you or has been the greatest influence of your work?
I am a voracious reader, as a child it was a refuge, as an adult it is both a refuge and a way to climb mountains. As a child growing up in regional Australia in the 70s, I was both desperately eager for the world beyond me, and intimately bound to my physical place. These tensions generated energy for me, and have continued to. I have had a series of teachers/collaborative relationships with artists and other people in other industries that provoke me to consider possible and impossible changes. My partnership with Tim Humphrey is both private and public, and I am deeply grateful for this and our three children.

Can you describe the practical process you use to develop ideas/concepts for your work?
Each work has a trajectory of oppositions- imaginative flashes, and muddy trudges. And each work has its own particular set of processes that emerge as the form develops, so this is a difficult question to answer. Generally, the development of ideas into form requires trust, invitation, site, other minds, quiet time, loud time, stumbles, mistakes, all held on a substrata of risk. Which floats above the ground. Possibly this is a description of impractical process.

The projects you’ve worked on feature such a rich array of collaborators including older people and people who are culturally and linguistically diverse. Why is diversity essential in experimental art forms? What sort of impact have you seen diversity have on the growth/strength/health of experimental arts?
As an artist concerned with the experiment of listening, I am continually asking myself two questions. Who is not heard, and what I have not heard yet? These questions directly address considerations of who is there, and what are we doing together. By definition these questions bring into arts’ orbit considerations of form, comrades, collaborators, and culture. The experimental act in art is a hopeful one, one that continually pushes at the limits of what is possible and for who. Diversity needs to be embodied in the experimental act. Diversity of thought, of form, of body, of sense, of culture. I feel in experimental art we are making the future, and I want that future to be as expansive, generous, strange, thoughtful and radical as possible.


Madeleine Flynn. Image credit: Pier Carthew
Madeleine Flynn. Image credit: Pier Carthew

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