An ongoing fascination for Branch Nebula is the possibility and inherent joy in playing in public spaces that are privately owned and controlled. The architecture of shops, arcades, street furniture and semi-social-come-commercial uses dreamed up by urban planners, offer a plethora of exciting dialogues with both audiences, shoppers and pedestrians. What is real? What is fake? Who is performing and who is not?
Branch Nebula stepped into the role of curator with SWARM – Collective Actions on Queen for Campbelltown Arts Centre’s Live Art Program in 2015-2016.
Branch Nebula crafted an event that activated and celebrated the arcades, main thoroughfares and public spaces of Campbelltown with a free 2-hour live art event that drew artists and audiences into the architectural fabric of Queen Street, Campbelltown’s historic town centre. Through 5 key artistic interventions, SWARM teased out questions around individual agency within public spaces, the impact of collective actions, and the role of the artist within a (re)vision of a city’s development.
Audiences were led on a tour through the main shopping street and experienced live performances and art installations that included a 10,000 year time capsule, a choreography of defensive vogueing techniques, arcade orienteering, a traditional gunya shelter and a Fijian lovo. Through these projects, artists were speculating local futures, raising queer visibility, mapping alternative routes, and drawing on local traditional knowledges.
Artists Amala Groom, Bhenji Ra, Denis Beaubois, Matthew Prest and Salote Tawale collaborated with local businesses and community organizations in the development and outcome of their artistic projects.
Lee Wilson & Mirabelle Wouters
Frances Barrett for Campbelltown Arts Centre
Curated Artists’ Projects
Wiradjuri artist Amala Groom has worked with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to remember and celebrate traditional practices of culture, through sharing and learning the process of building a gunyah, a shelter constructed from branches and foliage.
Legacy (Imagining a Future)
Denis Beaubois will bury a time capsule and commemorate it’s burial with a clapping rhyme designed to be played across generations. The contents of this time capsule have been developed by local residents of Campbelltown, who are the custodians, until its planned retrieval 10,000 years into the future. The extended retrieval date provides both logistical and imaginative challenges that play out well past the lifetime of participants. In doing so the project encourages a vision that falls beyond ones own lifetime and span across 400 generations
The Queen Street Run
Matthew Prest has worked with Queen Street business owners to stage a fun run through an obstacle course of arcades, alleyways, fire escapes and shopfronts. Following an orienteering-style format of map navigation and checkpoints, the race takes runners through the unusual labyrinthine architecture of Queen Street to cut new pathways and change the way we engage physically with this type of commercial space.
Slay Your Oppressor(s)
Koco Carey, David Chor, Bhenji Ra
Costume design: Willow Darling
Slay your oppressor(s) is ongoing on project that looks at the safety and visibility of the queer body within the suburban and rural landscape. In this reiteration Bhenji is responding to conversations between her and her local collaborators surrounding their experiences with violence, negotiations of survival and their own visibility as Western-Sydney based queers. As a collective they have developed a martial art form that speaks to their respective cultural backgrounds as well as their own embodieded histories of dance such as vogue-femme.
Mai Kana Lovo
Translated, Come Eat Lovo, this work discovers the performance of communal acts, the sharing of knowledge and the celebration of Fijian culture. A lovo is an earth oven, where food, surrounded by banana leaves and hugged by the earth, is slow cooked to delicious. From preparation to consumption, a lovo is a collective operation and Tawale has invited members of the Campbelltown community to share their knowledge of this Fijian celebratory tradition. Come eat Lovo with us!
SWARM was commissioned by Campbelltown Arts Centre for its Live Art program and has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. Campbelltown Arts Centre is a cultural facility of Campbelltown City Council and is supported by the NSW Government through Arts NSW.