PICA Interdisciplinary Lab: Encounter, Practice, Play

Image caption: HOWL by Aphids presented by the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. Image credit: Aaron Claringbold

Key dates

Applications are now closed.

Event dates: One week between March – November 2021 (schedule below)

WebsitePerth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) 

Amount: $1,500 per individual

Applications close: 15 January 2021

Applications close at 11:59pm AEDT on the closing date.

Notification:  10 February 2021

About this event

The Australia Council for the Arts and Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) recognize the tumultuous year for the arts in 2020 and how independent artists have been affected in a multitude of ways, including opportunities to gather and connect in a global context.

In 2021, PICA will host the first of a three-year artist exchange and professional development program with Australian and South and Southeast Asian artists. In 2021, this will include three artist labs led by Australian artists Joel Bray and Eugenia Lim, and will focus on interdisciplinary and intercultural practice through discussion, practice sharing and workshops. The labs will be an experiment in finding innovative ways of fostering togetherness and embodied practice, even when we must remain physically separated.

The Interdisciplinary Lab is an extension of PICA’s professional development programs led by practicing artists with access to alternative methodologies and ways of thinking and making. Under PICA’s remit to support interdisciplinary practice, this program will foster learning, skills development and collaboration with a focus on exchange between artists living and working across the Australian and South/Southeast Asian regions.

A participation fee of $1500 AUD will be provided to each artist for a week’s worth of commitment spread across the year. The lab will support 4 Australian artists, 2 artists from South Asia and 2 artists from Southeast Asia.

2021 marks the first of a three-year engagement with the potential in later years to gather in person in Perth, when travel is again possible. Further outcomes will be dependent on the 2021 lab.

About PICA

The Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) is one of Australia’s leading centres for the development and presentation for contemporary art. Housed in a large and striking heritage building in the heart of Perth, Western Australia, PICA is the city’s focal point for those wishing to experience the best of Australian and international visual, performance and interdisciplinary art.

PICA is both a producing and presenting institution that runs an annual program of exhibitions, performance seasons, artistic residencies and interdisciplinary projects. It boasts some of the largest and most breath-taking presentation spaces in Australia and has become known for the leading role it plays in the presentation of significant new work.

In presenting this lab, PICA also recognizes the region in which it is situated in: being on Noongar country, which belongs to the Whadjuk people, the First peoples and traditional owners of this land; and on the West coast of Australia, within the Indian Ocean rim, or GMT+8 time zone, and with proximity to the South and Southeast Asian region. This acknowledgment frames the thinking of this lab and what it means to be living and making work in these regions.

The Lab Program

The Interdisciplinary Lab will:

  1. Connect artists from Australia and South and Southeast Asian regions.
  2. Provide professional development for artists seeking to engage in dialogue and practice in an interdisciplinary and intercultural performance context.
  3. Provide a rigorous and supportive learning environment to foster experimentation, critical thinking, skills development and play.

In 2021, there will be three lab phases, beginning in March with ‘Encounter’, artists will gather digitally to share and reflect on their work and begin new relationships and dialogues. August brings ‘Practice’, a lab focused on sharing intercultural and interdisciplinary practices, and November brings ‘Play’, a time for generative making and collaboration.

One full week’s worth of commitment spread across:

March–April: ENCOUNTER (1.5 days)

3 online meetings and creative tasks.

  • embodied practice in the digital space: cooking, walking, talking, sharing, dancing together.
  • the goal over this first phase is to get to know each other as artists and people, starting from an embodied space.

August: PRACTICE (2 days)

3 online meetings and creative tasks.

  • listening and sharing strategies and practices, including:
  • the importance of place
  • how culture affects the work we make and the work we make affects culture
  • locating the personal or the specific within the global
  • the role of language (written, verbal, artform)
  • the borders between (geographies, cultures, artforms) and the potential of blurring.

November: PLAY (2 days)

3 online meetings and creative tasks

  • gameplay through collaborative artistic experimentation
  • learning from each other’s artistic and practical methodologies and processes
  • PARTY!

Who is this lab for?

This lab is suited for artists seeking to engage in learning and in dialogue. We encourage applications from artists with:

  • a base in Australia or anywhere across South and Southeast Asia
  • at least 5 years of practice and those that identify as mid-career artists
  • a strong interest in interdisciplinary practice
  • backgrounds in contemporary performance, site-specific and installation-based practices, participatory, socially engaged and live art practices, and experimental approaches to sound/music, dance/movement, theatre and visual art
  • First Nations and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) peoples
  • any practicing artist; PICA and the Australia Council for the Arts values the important role difference plays within our organisations, and we encourage applications from candidates who choose to self-identify in any way that ensures we continue to reflect, learn and adapt from the the rootedness of our/their context
  • an interest to engage in this 3 year model from 2021 – 2023. Modes of engagement will be co-designed after the pilot initiative. 

Assessment Criteria

You are required to respond to the following assessment criteria:

1.  The impact of the project in developing future opportunities between Australia and its neighbours in the region.

2.  Detail on how the following ideas may be present and relevant to your practice:

  • space, site and place
  • cultural perspectives
  • approaches to experimentation and interdisciplinary ways of making
  • responsiveness and currency; how do you respond to the world around you.

3.  A long-term commitment to being involved in the program as it evolves over a three year period.

Diversity and access

The Australia Council and PICA strongly encourage applications from applicants who identify as First Nations, from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) backgrounds, people with disability, and people living in regional and remote areas.

Our programs and processes are designed for accessibility and best use by a diverse demographic. Please contact us at least 2 weeks prior to the closing date to discuss your access and support requirements.

Supporting Material

The following support material must be uploaded with your application:

  • documentation of your work including 1 (one) website link containing a video, sound file, image or artist website that represents your practice
  • an outline of a practice sharing exercise that you could facilitate with the group.

Note: video and sound files should be limited to 5 minutes.

Funding support

The level of funding support available is $1,500 AUD per participant. The lab will support 4 Australian artists, 2 artists from South Asia and 2 artists from Southeast Asia.

This is intended as a fee for workshop participation and related project research and development.

Assessment process

Australia Council staff in consultation with PICA staff and the facilitators will consider applications according to the assessment criteria above and will seek recommendations by industry advisors as needed.

You will be informed of the outcome of your application by 15 January 2021.

About the artist-facilitators

Joel Bray

Melbourne-based artist Joel Bray is a proud Wiradjuri man. He began dancing at age 20 in traditional Aboriginal and Contemporary dance forms at NAISDA Dance College and went on to graduate from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2005. Joel has performed with CHUNKY MOVE, touring in Complexity of Belonging and An Act of Now, and with Anouk van Dijk and Falk Richter in their production Safe Places at the Frankfurt Schauspielhaus.

Learn more about Joel Bray. 

Eugenia Lim

Eugenia Lim is an Australian artist of Chinese–Singaporean descent who works across video, performance and installation to explore how national identities cut, divide and bond our globalised world. Interested in how nationalism and stereotypes are formed, Lim invents personas to explore the tensions of an individual within society – the alienation and belonging in a globalised world.

Learn more about Eugenia Lim.


Nithya Nagarajan, 
International Market Adviser, South and Southeast Asia 
Phone: (02) 9215 9324 

Learn more about other available opportunities. 

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