Publications Like a lunar cycle
Selena de Carvalho on the third and fourth assemblies for Regional Assembly
Regional Assembly, like a lunar cycle meets once a month, hovering over screens across a constellation of places we each call home. The rocks and minerals of our technologies web us together between oceans and land, ideas and art-forms we orbit connection.
nipaluna / Hobart
I’m in the art studio at Material Institute (one of my 3 current workplaces), and have tucked in after hosting a morning workshop on fermentation with High School aged youth during Science week. In-between worlds, new friends online wax lyrical about hair dye and the cost of bleaching etc. My first trip to the hairdresser was at 35 years of age, (I’m pretty un-kept as it turns out). I don’t have much to add. I’ve come to realise that zoom kind of gives me a low level of anxiety. I am bound to creativity, and honestly being part of this cohort of intercultural and regionally diverse artists is soul nourishing, but I have to admit, the performativity of zoom is a struggle. I can’t read the cues for when to chime in, I’m often on my phone because the internet at my house waxes and wanes (for some reason the phone is better) so I can only ever see one persons face on the screen, and this makes taking up airwaves/space, kind of intimidating. I guess what I’m saying is that if I had thought about this more deeply, it’s possible I wouldn’t have applied to be part of an online, ongoing zoom group of artists, but right now I’m glad my former self did, because this monthly get together is a link to a community that I have for the larger part of my existence, identified with—artist life is an ember that I need to steward as I navigate what has become a somewhat hectic worker phase.
Delhi / India
We move between practices and places weaving knowledge of each other iteratively, gently. The writer in our midst introduces himself from Delhi. A world away. I try to imagine the context. He proposes to share a story that is not yet complete, as such the recording is paused. I like that this happens. There’s something to the impermanence and fragility of the attention this requests. Being let into a secret. Words linger and dissipate like incense smoke as they pass my ears. Sentences reverberate. I scribble notes studiously, ridiculous, as though, if I could I would try to run in front and catch the story in its entirety. The rhythmic cadence of the author’s voice describes the complexity of having been absent from one’s home country during the rupture of internal conflict, the dissonance of familiarity—changed beyond comprehension, shadowy violence lurks in the humid air, a master of his craft, the writer’s refrain does not sanitise or make palatable the horror, but leaves us unsettled by this awful, beautiful translation.
nipaluna / Hobart
Momentarily I’m back in the present, someone comes into the studio and asks a question. There are 70 kids on site I can see them buzzing in the poly-tunnel across from the studio.
Mparntwe / Alice Springs
Back online we move between practices, tentacular in their diversity, I settle in to the world of Frankie Snowdon and Guts Dance. The shift from experiencing art to speaking for and sharing the pitch of practice takes a moment of adjustment. The video is a brilliant, slick, heartfelt view into this ambitious remote company. I think about the distance between artistry and navigating support for practice, the performance of ‘career’ that the sector requests, chameleons of the moving goal post, artists perform their credentials, athletes of endorsement and funding rounds. * We are being paid to participate in this group, which is both fantastic, and perhaps a little fraught?
Wiradjuri / Bathurst
With the mental agility of a gymnast, Amala Groom picks up and carries this flame through a recorded performance lecture, woven into their articulate thought stream Amala foregrounds her deep collaboration with ancestors, a potent noticing of how being guided (by her old people) feels and makes differently—to pulling/being pulled. Following this seam she notices ‘colonialism is the amnesia—remembering—the remembering is the universe’. The honesty, humour and spirit holds up a mirror. We relax into the pattern of articulation, punctuated with the disturbance of hard and sometimes ironically funny truths. I laugh because I can also see myself in these conundrums, reminded of how artists ask more questions than provide answers; questions that lead to more questions.
Kabi Kabi + Jinibara / Sunshine Coast
It’s a month later and I’m on the Sunshine Coast. The phone is propped on the dash and I’m in a sort of shade spot next to a pandanus behind the beach. I’ve just had my first week off in a long-long time and am around the corner from the airport, ready to fly home with a little pit stop for this Regional Assembly meet. I haven’t checked my emails all week. Which is literally the best, except that after my suggestion in last month’s session everyone has sent through art works to watch prior to the call. My phone overheats in the spring sun heatwave. I move to the grass and tune in.
Colombo / Sri Lanka
Abdul Halik Azeez kicks us off, speaking to the many faceted layers of Sri Lankan diaspora, with a tactically considered low fi aesthetic, infused with ideas that negotiate high philosophy. Moving image screen grabs montage a recording of digital surgery, vintage photo’s reminiscent of family albums are dissected into juxtaposing collaged imagery, ideas coalesce, contrasting nostalgia alongside idealised ‘western’ notions of ‘exoticism and progress’, the work is amplified with anecdotal story-telling that is both humorous and scary, another multi-stratum artist cake care-fully unpacking power dynamics of race, human trafficking and drug running. I am refreshed by how art requests engagement of the audience, a committed form of attention to meet the work. The pace opposes much of the digital interfacing we are conditioned into—nuanced with elements whose combination ‘complicates history’. My screen is tiny and I’m wincing through the sun, but the essence shines through with refreshing influence.
Yaegl / Woombah
‘The fear shouldn’t stop the conversation, ask difficult questions’. We are in the terrain of cultural permissions, how and who to ask, how to interpret and who to listen to, what might protocols and frameworks be for working respectfully with someone else’s cultural stories? Contextual of course, Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal is leading this discourse, and truthfully I would like to climb through the screen to have a proper natter, to really sink into the depth of this sophisticated query, but I have to go catch a flight. And the talks have stretched overtime and now I can’t stay to experience the live conversation with Arie Syarifuddin. I leave with the click of a button. It feels abrupt—the collision of irl immediacy and online time bending.
lutruwita/ Longley Village
I’m trying to catch up watching the recording of the last get together in the bath after a big day. Bath lectures as praxis (couldn’t do this for the live call). This is a technique I’ve perceived many of this cohort employ, beauty, humor aesthetics as a codified entry point, relaxing the audience for engagement with sophisticated topics. I want the art to seep into my pores, like the heat of the water I’m floating in, for the spell to be cast.
Jatiwangi/ West Java
Unfortunately the Internet isn’t working and I’ll simply have to return at a more appropriate time.
melukerdee country/ Randall’s Bay
I go looking for the recording again (admittedly its several weeks later), and now the folder is empty. I’ve dallied too long and the impermanence of this temporary archive is felt. Ironically I kind of like this too. It’s disappointing to have missed Arie’s presentation, but there’s something refreshing to this empty dropbox. The infinite memory of technologies watch interrupted, friction points are opportunities for surrender too. I let it go and leaf through my journal looking for notes from the meet a few months back, when Arie mentioned having collaborated with the Police and Military—a seemingly genius approach to inclusion and culture jamming within their local community. The note isn’t there, instead I come across a conversation with another friend, Kate Rich, who raises the question, ‘Who are the communities we are claimed by and who are the communities we identify with’. This feels like a complimentary pondering, as we oscillate in and out of this temporary community gathering around ideas in the flickering of screens, there are so many threads that connect this compelling, distributed group. I’m thankful for the ongoing pulse of attention.
Selena de Carvalho
Selena is an inter-disciplinary artist, designer, maker and risk taker of settler, refugee and migrant heritage based in lutruwrita/Tasmania- ‘Australia’.