Recently landed: Parisian cats, a new article on Marginalia (by Gracia) takes a look at two recent commissions, A Souvenir of Paris (artists' book), and Meow: A Genetic Concert for Cats (cover illustration)

We recently had the pleasure of working on the cover illustration for Kerry J. Fowler's book, Meow: A Genetic Concert for Cats, which looks at the DNA responsible for the diversity and appearance of cat breeds

The colour of nostalgia

Recently landed: The colour of nostalgia, a new article on Marginalia (by Gracia) takes you to Graeme Murphy's Nutcracker — The Story of Clara

The Australian Ballet's Kevin Jackson and Leanne Stojmenov in Graeme Murphy's Nutcracker — The Story of Clara (image credit: Jeff Busby)

An Australian Nutcracker

Recently landed: An Australian Nutcracker, Gracia's written response to Graeme Murphy’s Nutcracker — The Story of Clara, for Fjord Review

Murphy’s Nutcracker loops freely from summertime in late 1950s Australia back to snow-cloaked Imperial Russia before launching towards the 1917 Russian Revolution, in the way that memory does, and the musical score, in turn, can be read. Clara’s memory maps her life as a star of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes before touring with Colonel de Basil to the homelands of previous divertissements: Spain, Egypt, China, and, naturally, the addition of Melbourne. Clara’s final performance is also the birth of a company, the newly formed Borovansky Ballet. To sweep such rich terrain in an evening, Clara’s story is told through three different performers, from Child Clara (Jessica Stratton-Smith) to Young Clara, performed by Leanne Stojmenov (on opening night) and Dimity Azoury (on Tuesday night), and Ai-Gul Gaisina and Chrissa Keramidas (on opening and Tuesday nights respectively) as Clara the Elder. Stojmenov not only taps into but epitomises fluid-shifting remembrance and loss, and ultimately resilience with such tactile conviction, rendering her spine elastic yet unbreakable in every intimate lift with Kevin Jackson as her Soldier/Lover. Great love never dims, it merely changes shape, and their connection and faith in each other feels all the deeper for beginning at the end.

From Hills Hoist to the Argus newspaper calls, the Australian gumtree angle works because it is presented as a truth. It is not (self-) consciously laid on thick; it is merely there. A mirror. This is us. A part of our dance history. These are scenes we recognise. Clara the Elder’s apartment is one we’ve all sat in, either in real life, or in a story where perhaps we wished we had a relative who had spent their formative years on the stage. As Clara the Elder, both Gaisina and Keramidas appeared to shine from inside out. To paraphrase Murphy, just as you hear Tchaikovsky poured his heart into the score, the same can be said of the light-footed recollections of Gaisina and Keramidas as Ballet Russes émigrés. Where past is in contrast to present, and Russian society is shown in contrast to a life of exile in Australia, the time spent in Act I with Clara and her émigré friends (Frank Leo, Colin Peasley OAM, Terese Power et al.) is what enables Nutcracker to hit you in the guts when the curtain closes. The body as it gets older cannot do what it might earlier have done with ease. This is the cruelty of age. And this is strength, beauty, and the importance of connections forged with others. If ever there was a call to follow your dreams, this celebration of a lived experience being that which makes us richer is it. It is precisely the amount of time spent in her apartment that is why, I believe, we feel a lump in our throat or a tear on our cheek when Clara dies. We cannot know what has been lost without knowing what is. Nostalgia colours the past, but it also informs the present and alters the future. "Time does not help us make sense of our otherwise jumbled lives; our jumbled lives help us make sense of time."

The Australian Ballet's Jarryd Madden and Leanne Stojmenov in Graeme Murphy's Nutcracker — The Story of Clara (image credit: Jeff Busby)

Out of Earshot

Recently landed: Out of Earshot, Gracia's written response to KAGE's recent work, which premiered at Melbourne International Jazz Festival, for Fjord Review

Myele Manzanza makes sound. Terrific sound. He plays drums. He plays the floor like it too were an instrument. Every surface, by this extension, has the possibility of being an instrument. And Manzanza also tap, tap, taps sound on Elle Evangelista, beginning with her shoulders. Standing face-to-face, he transmits sound to Evangelista. You can hear sound, yes. But you can also feel it as vibrations within the body. 

And so begins KAGE’s new collaborative work,
Out of Earshot, presented in the Chunky Move studios. Quietly. Intimately. With a question. How do we experience sound? Premiering as part of Melbourne International Jazz Festival, sound is not something we hear only with our ears. Sound is felt. 

We take it is a given that when we hear sound, we are not just using our ears. All our senses are engaged. Sound
is experience. From the hot tingle of goose bumps on the forearms, the lump that materialises in the throat, the heart that feels as though it were out-of-body soaring. Our feet tap as rhythm takes hold. A smile broadens as a crescendo is reached. Some, they may even ‘see’ the music as it flies through the air like some superb bird of synaesthesia. To me, sound has the effect of unifying those in the room, making us all instruments, like Manzanza playing Evangelista’s torso. We hear sound and the brain fires off happy notes throughout the body. Sound is, to this end, pleasure.

KAGE's Out of Earshot (image credit: Jeff Busby)

Paper Animals, postage free

Dear you, 

Our online store is bursting at its spine with all of our new titles launched at the recent NGV Melbourne Art Book Fair. What's more, we are offering FREE POSTAGE WORLDWIDE until the 10th of May. 

Simply enter the code PAPERANIMALS during checkout. 

For "a coat of feathers [to help you] stay in the air indefinitely," pick up a copy of Winged

For mammals scampering, climbing, purring, add a copy of Limbed featuring thirty-two Salvaged Relatives to your cart. 

Run your fingers through the fine and ordered lines of Pattern, a zine made in collaboration with Deidre Brollo, Marian Crawford, Elaine Haby, and Deborah Klein. 

Marvel at a softness of mice ears, polished steel buttons, hoops, a globe on a desk and other round things in Round, circle, dot

Acquire a song of paper birds, and purchase a copy of the printed edition of Prattle, scoop, trembling

Yours for a song, Winged, Limbed, Pattern-ed, Round-ed and Prattle-d, Yours with sticky tape at the ready, Gracia & Louise XO

Gracia Haby, Limbed, 2017, printed zine

Twenty-four: a compilation box of zines, 2015–2016

We are delighted that editions of Twenty-four: a compilation box of zines, 2015–2016 have recently been acquired by the State Library of Victoria (edition 2/5), the State Library of New South Wales (edition 3/5, bubbled), and the National Library of Australia (edition 1/5, snug).

Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison, Twenty-four: a compilation box of zines, 2015–2016, edition 1 of 5, box set, 2017

Walking on Clouds

Recently landed: Walking on Clouds, Gracia's written response to Chunky Move's Anti-Gravity, Nat Cursio's Tiny Slopes, and Lucy Guerin's Split, three performances presented as part of Dance Massive, for Fjord Review

The Bureau of Meteorology La Trobe St. Weather Station, near to the Carlton Gardens, has always intrigued me. A triangular wedge of fenced-off green on the city’s fringe, it looks like an art installation or a performance space. With a tiny garden shed, and unfamiliar equipment to measure climatic changes and patterns neatly dotted and connected by pathways, it is not so unlike the world Chunky Move’s Anouk van Dijk and Singaporean artist and filmmaker, Ho Tzu Nyen, have set up for their collaborative work, Anti-Gravity.

Presented as part of the Asia Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts and Dance Massive 2017, the stage is an ordered maze of forms that are familiar but whose role is ambiguous. The business of forecasting sounds and looks poetic, but it is serious stuff. Wind measurements, temperature, humidity, and precipitation are all recorded by tiny, unassuming sculptures that appear in need only of an artists’ statement. Working with clouds has the air of romance, to me, and in literature, dance, and art too, but I suspect that it is the data not the tools and their subjects that must interest those who chart meteorological quantities.

Sarah Ronnie Bruce performing in Chunky Move's Anti-Gravity (image credit: Pippa Samaya)

Isadora, Patti, and the Ghosts

Recently landed: Isadora, Patti, and the Ghostsa new article on Marginalia (by Gracia) takes you to Dance Massive

Hellen Sky, Michelle Ferris, and Georgia Bettens in Martin Hansen's If it's all in my veins (image credit: Gregory Lorenzutti)

Simulations

Recently landed: Simulations, Gracia's written response to Martin Hansen's If it's all in my viens, at Dancehouse, as part of Dance Massive, for Fjord Review

3, 2, 1, go.

Beyoncé ‘borrows’ moves from the Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. She duplicates De Keersmaeker’s Rosas Danst Rosas (1983) in her 2011 clip Countdown. It isn’t plagiarism; it’s homage, it’s a tribute, darling. Besides, what’s original anyway?

Revamped. Resampled. Reconfigured. Influenced by. What’s mine is yours. Following in the footsteps of the dance pioneers. Patti Smith rolls her head back, looks direct to camera: ‘anything is possible.’ History, it’s in my veins. Who’s following whom? Who founded what? Origin or original? Hey, what does it matter anyway?

DADA gave birth to the Situationist International gave birth to punk. No, Valeska Gert gave birth to punk. She did, didn’t she? She who danced “traffic jams, car accidents, slow movie cuts, boxers, babies, orgasms, and most radically, nothing. . . . [She who] managed to put conceptual brackets around “nothing” some thirty years before John Cage would compose his “groundbreaking” silent piece, 4’33.” She was proto punk, born in 1892.

Modern dance is constantly evolving, absorbing what came before it, moulding what is present and pushing towards what is to come. An exploration of the self, of humanity itself, perhaps its only link is that it feels essential to the dancers, choreographers, and the audience, to the makers and the watchers.

Hellen Sky, Michelle Ferris, and Georgia Bettens in Martin Hansen's If it's all in my veins (image credit: Gregory Lorenzutti)

Energy consumed, spent, and utterly glorious

Recently landed: Energy consumed, spent, and utterly gloriousa new article on Marginalia (by Gracia) takes you to Faster

Jarryd Madden and Leanne Stojmenov of the Australian Ballet performing in Tim Harbour's Squander and Glory (image credit: Jeff Busby)

Human Engine

Recently landed: Human Engine, Gracia's written response to the Australian Ballet's contemporary triple bill, Faster, for Fjord Review

See below the line. Look beyond the surface. Delve beneath the city. Peer underneath the skin. Vide infra. What makes us tick, and ultimately what holds us together, piece by splintered piece.

Drawing its name from the Latin word for ‘below,’
Infra (2008) surveys the internal. This work is a part of the body, within the body; this work is the human condition. Infrarenal. Wayne McGregor invites us to look at the “interior emotional landscape” by observing and drawing inferences from the data on the stage, in turn calling upon our own emotions. The choreographic language is both felt and distinctly human. Beneath the surface of both city and skin, the binding agent is similar.

Segmented by an LED screen that runs the length of the stage, two letterboxed worlds are presented. Above the line, visual artist Julian Opie’s flow of uniform pedestrians are an unwavering rhythm. From the left and right they flow in a mesmerising pattern that is both soothing and indifferent. If you stumble, assistance is unlikely; you’ll merely disturb the pattern. Simplified to the core — a circle for a head, a block for a torso, a rectangle for a briefcase — they are in stark contrast to the activity below the line. The twelve dancers from the Australian Ballet, beneath the ‘unreal city,’ reveal deep inward feelings. Below the line, within the body, visceral and real, and with a capacity to feel, ache, and sometimes break. The binding agent is fragile.

Kevin Jackson and Vivienne Wong of the Australian Ballet performing in Tim Harbour's Squander and Glory (image credit: Jeff Busby)

Finito

Recently landed: Finitoa new article on Marginalia (by Gracia) takes a look at the recent the NGV's Melbourne Art Book Fair

Melbourne Art Book Fair in flight (image credit: Tobias Titz (detail))