Free Association is a volunteer-run platform for workshops, public programming and publishing through the expanded fields of fiction, poetry, critical theory, philosophy, art and art criticism.

TEAM

Founder, Programming and Development: Anita Spooner
Producer: Chantelle Mitchell
Media and Communications: Jordana Bragg
Adviser: Josephine Mead
Resident Astrologer and Fantasy Worker: Angelita Biscotti
Designer: Alex Margetic
Web developer: Xavier Connelly

CONTACT

hello@freeassociation.com.au

We acknowledge the custodians of the land on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and pay respect to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

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Intrusive thoughts: the internal monologue of a stressed singularity led by Sam Leiblich

Techno-futurists believe “The Singularity”—when human and artificial intelligence combines to form a world-spanning super-intelligence—is the inevitable next step in the evolution of life on Earth; but what happens when the worldwide super-mind starts spiralling? And what if the singularity is already here and it’s literally just obsessing over whether we’ve all bought toilet paper this week?

 

This series of workshops will introduce attendees to the thought of John C. Lilley, Ray Kurzweil, and other outsiders and futurists, whom we will read through the work of Jacques Lacan and Sigmund Freud. After establishing a theoretical grounding we will use state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms, and a set of especially adapted writing exercises, to learn to listen—to ourselves and to the algorithm—so that we might predict what comes next. What will it be like when the internet scrolls us? Get ready to see Siri stress the fuck out!

Local and international writing and technology enthusiasts are encouraged to apply.

Application deadline: Midnight, April 9, 2021

Supported by Darebin City Council.

Sam Lieblich is a writer, psychiatrist, and neuroscientist interested in how humans orient themselves in the world, in the poetics of brain-based explanations for human Being, and in our algorithmic selves. He has been published in the Lifted Brow, Overland, Tectonic, the British Journal of Psychiatry, The Australia and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Neurology, No More Poetry, and others. He developed an AI chatbot for the recent ACCAopen exhibition with dancer and choreographer Amrita Hepi. He has also contributed chapters to neuropsychiatry textbooks and teaches at the University of Melbourne.

Think of a mobile: suspended and unsettled, an ending is a beginning. Digital poetry operates like a mobile, a mobile moves like a gif. When we write digital poetry, we are are constructing something that moves across the screen. We want it to loop back over itself, to spin in circles, to end up where it started. Digital poetry is a mobile is a gif.

 

Making Mobiles is a two-hour gif-making workshop that suspends and loops digital poems. The workshop will equip participants with the skills to bridge poetry and the moving image. The first hour will consist of a presentation on digital mediums, design basics, how to make a gif, and implementing poetry into the moving image. The second hour will put the presentation into practice, asking participants to turn a pre-written poem into a looped gif.

We will present these gif poems across a digital exhibition, inviting you into a room full of mobiles.

Poets from any state or territory in Australia are encouraged to apply.

APPLY

Application deadline: Midnight, Sunday August 9, 2020
Supported by the City of Melbourne COVID-19 Arts Grants.

Lujayn Hourani is a digital writer, editor and arts worker based in Naarm. Their practice focuses heavily on digital literature – writing it, editing it, and talking about it. Their digital writing has appeared in Meanjin, Overland, The Lifted Brow, Voiceworks, Emerging Writers Festival and Going Down Swinging, among others. They are Online Editor at Voiceworks, work at Next Wave and were previous Online Editor at The Lifted Brow.

This workshop will consider the role of critical art writing in the broader political project of imagining the world otherwise. The workshop understands ‘art’ in its most expanded sense, encompassing both cultural texts and the aesthetic dimension of political experience and subjectivity. Taking Ashon Crawley’s phrase ‘otherwise possibilities’ as a departure point, the three sessions will engage in close readings of recent criticism that reads alongside or through a work of art in order to think about how to transform ways of seeing, being, organising, and resisting.

 

The sessions will focus on the how political subjectivity is shaped (by race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, (dis)ability; by access to or distance from networks of care; vulnerability to or protection from the law) and how art is one way of studying the affects and effects associated with becoming a political subject. Close readings will be accompanied by writing exercises that explore different registers and styles and that consider how critical writing can be particularly responsive to the world moment we find ourselves in. The first session will focus on ‘reading’ as an expanded practice that informs writing; the second session will examine ‘writing’ and the process through which an argument emerges through the act of drafting; the final session will look at ‘editing’ and how to edit both one’s own and other people’s writing. Examples of readings include work by Fred Moten, Saidiya Hartman, Evelyn Araluen, Helen Hughes, Andrew Brooks, and Kay Gabriel.

Writers from any state or territory in Australia are encouraged to apply.

APPLY

Application deadline: Midnight, Sunday August 2, 2020.

Supported by the City of Melbourne COVID-19 Arts Grants.

 

Astrid Lorange is a writer, artist, and editor who lives and works on unceded Wangal land. She lectures in contemporary theory at UNSW Art & Design. She is one-half of the critical art collective Snack Syndicate and a member of the publishing collective Rosa Press. Her research examines reading as a critical generative practice that offers transformative possibilities for (re)thinking everyday life. In her scholarly and creative work, she analyses modern and contemporary literature and art, and the relationship between cultural texts and social and political structures (gender and sexuality; settler-colonialism and the nation-state; legal and economic systems; infrastructure; labour). Recent publications include Labour and Other Poems (Cordite Books, 2020) and Homework (forthcoming from Discipline).

In a time marked by rage and mourning over recent tragic deaths and ongoing police and state violence against Black and Indigenous people both at home and abroad, this is a writing program for Indigenous poets of Naarm to take stock and respond through the activism of poetry. It is a time for the language of immediacy and urgency; a time to ask: If not now – then when? And, if not you – then who?

 

The dawn is at hand – Oodgeroo Noonuccal

Three writing workshops will study historical and contemporary examples of poetry of protest and activism ranging from the personal (activism on the home-front, body politics, black bodies, queer bodies and their intersections) to big picture public activism and protest. The curriculum will cover the radical writing of Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Lionel Fogarty, Romaine Moreton, Jack Davis as well as contemporary poets Ellen van Neerven, Alison Whittaker, Evelyn Araleun, Samuel Wagan Watson and more. In this violent rupture we will draw connections across space and time through a reckoning of history; and deconstruction of the colonial mythscape of peaceful settlement and the united nation through the dismantling of colonial relics and a harbouring of future refusals and resistance. From the storytellers and song-makers of ancestry to contemporary protest language, we will look at how activist poetry is deeply localised, personal and highly political, at once.

Twelve First Nations writers will be paid $300 fees to develop a piece of poetry for digital publication on BLINDSIDE and Free Association’s websites.

The program:
Three poetry workshops led by Jeanine Leane covering theory, discussion and practical workshopping
A meeting with a Wurundjeri Elder
An online residency with BLINDSIDE from 22 July – 8 August with editorial support from Jeanine Leane
An online presentation of readings and work in development

This program will take place on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We recognise that sovereignty was never ceded – this land is stolen land. We pay respects to Wurundjeri Elders, past, present and emerging, to the Elders from other communities and to any other Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders who might encounter or participate in the program.

First Nations writers and artists from any state or territory are encouraged to apply.

Co-presented by Free Association and BLINDSIDE

The annual BLINDSIDE First Nations Project is supported by the Victorian Government through the City of Melbourne through their Triennial Grants Program. This project is proudly supported by Creative Victoria, the City of Melbourne COVID-19 Arts Grants and Darebin City Council.

Jeanine Leane is a Wiradjuri writer, poet, essayist and academic from southwest New South Wales. Her poetry, short stories and essays have been published in Hecate: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Women’s Liberation, The Journal for the Association European Studies of Australia, Australian Poetry Journal, Antipodes, Sydney Review of Books, Best Australian Poems, Overland and the Australian Book Review. Jeanine has published widely in the area of Aboriginal literature, poetry, writing otherness and creative non-fiction. Her research interests concern the political nature of literary representation, cultural appropriation of minority voices and stories and writing identity and difference.

Time, After Time: A Reenactment Workshop is a free series of lectures, discussions and practical workshops presented by Camila Galaz. Workshop participants will develop new reperformance works to present as part of Channels Festival, the International Biennial of Video Art. Open to emerging artists, writers and filmmakers, participants will consider how reperformance of historical events and reproductions of archival documents can be used to address ideas of cultural memory, inherited trauma, and the complexities of truth-telling.

 

Exploring the techniques and ethics of moving from the archival to the contemporary, the course will examine the theoretical landscape of historical reperformance, discuss works by video and installation artists such as Renata Poljak, Silvia Kolbowski, Yoshua Okón, and Petrit Halilaj, and develop new reperformance works for public presentation.

Camila Galaz is a visual artist whose practice uses video, drawing, and installation to explore intimate connections to history and resistance. Recent exhibitions include you are the magnet and I am the metal (slowly magnitizdat’, C3 Art Space (2018), Reparar Means to Repair, Blindside (2018); and You Transform Everything into a Boat, Kings Artist Run (2017). In 2018 she presented online projects with Sister Gallery and The Digital Writers’ Festival. She is the recipient of the 2018 MECCA M-Power Scholarship from the National Gallery of Victoria and the 2019-2020 Australia Council EMPAC New York Residency. In 2019 she presented a Writing & Concepts lecture at the NGV entitled Questioning Existence with the Subjunctive (Spanish Demystified). She is also a founding member of the performance art collective The Band Presents (TBP), and co-ran the TBPHQ Art Space in Docklands, Melbourne from 2017-19.

Two headed banner

The Two-Headed Bird: A Surrealist Writing Workshop seeks to unearth the creative potential of the unconscious for the purpose of composition and publication. Presented by Manisha Anjali, the course consists of a series of lectures, discussions and practical exercises on dream work, automatic writing, psychoanalysis and mythology. Students will examine existing surrealist works like William Blake's nightmarish visions, blues folklore, Yoko Ono's instructional pieces, Alejandro Jodorowsky's cinematic lucid dreams and the spiritual revolt of Butoh: a surrealist way to move.

 

Dream control, psychic automatism and cut-up are tools of illumination. By extracting narratives from the unconscious mind, students will not only be able to maintain a continuous state of inspiration but also evade psychological traps that inhibit creativity like writer’s block, self-criticism and creative boundaries established by traditional forms of composition and editing.

Manisha Anjali is a writer and artist. Her practice is rooted in the language of dreams and exile. Manisha is the author of Electric Lotus (Incendium Radical Library Press, 2019). She has been a recipient of BLINDSIDE’s Regional Arts & Research Residency, a Writer-in-Residence at Incendium Radical Library and a Hot Desk Fellow at The Wheeler Centre. Manisha is the producer of Neptune, an archive of dreams, hallucinations and visions.

Upcoming

Past

Presented by Chantelle Mitchell with readings and performance by Amaara Raheem, Eva Birch and Indiah Money, alongside calligraphy and embroidery tutorials by Angie Pai and family.

Breath Poetics introduces projectvisim as a poetics of embodiment - as a tool for writing the body through the materiality of text. Projective poetry traditions emerged from the Black Mountain School, and were inscribed by Charles Olson in his pamphlet ‘Projective Verse’ from 1951. This public program introduces Projective Verse traditions and practices, and explores the significance of text and language as a poetics of breath, as ‘a high-energy construct and an energy discharge’ and in presenting methodologies to consider and untangle the relation of body to language, and the relation of language to the page.

Time, After Time

Time, After Time: A Reenactment Workshop, was a workshop series developed and run by myself (Camila Galaz) at School House Studios through Free Association for Channels Festival. Selected through an EOI process, the participants were: Emanuel Rodriguez-Chaves, Indiah Money, Kate Stodart, Sumarlinah Raden Winoto, Sean Miles, Kate O’Boyle, Sha Sarwari, and Georgia Kartas.

Reenactment is often spoken of as a revisiting of history to understand the past through the present. But within contemporary art sometimes reenactment is an aim, sometimes a tool, and sometimes an element within a larger work. For this workshop, I proposed reperformance as a framework – as a way of approaching the creation of art that looks to use or respond to histories, archives, and other source materials. We looked at examples of works, mostly video and installation-based by Renata Poljak, Sylvia Kolbowski, Petrit Halilaj, Carlos Motta, Yoshua Okon, Rod Dickinson, and Alfredo Jaar among others.

Reenactment allows us access to a range of thought processes around meaning, ethics, and personhood, which are essential when creating works that use history and archive. History is always mediated – through archives, oral histories, technology, official history, books, photographs, and cultural memory. Reperformance allows us to look to and dissect the histories and stories these recount, but also to interrogate the conditions of the source material itself – the mediums and contexts through which we view and access history. Because no matter what we do, source material will always contain its conditions embedded within it. It is not objective. This can be seen in specific source material, but also in archival practices themselves.

In addition to this, we also looked at issues of truth. It is difficult to decipher what is actually true in a world where technology and the mass media is filtering much of the information that we receive, and where collective memory is mediated through the state, but also through pop culture. Many works that use reenactment use it to highlight or pull apart the layers of mediation that are entangled into our knowledge and perception of history and information in general. These works problematise historical truth – reconsidering what was presented as truth, the forces in play that shaped it, and the purpose of the presentation of that evidence.

A key component of effective and ethical reperformance is a strong justification for the use of a particular source. It is not something to be used flippantly and it’s important that we analyse our motivations in working in this way. These works often link into histories and tell stories that may become part of the narrative itself. Through our discussions in the workshops, we looked to think beyond ourselves – to the past, and to the future that might be influenced or represented by the works.

These are difficult things to work through, and I think once through it, that a conclusion against reperformance is sometimes a necessity. To this I offered the relative safe haven of responsive work, rather than reperformative. A breaking apart of the script, and an abstracting from the original. In these cases, reperformance is a tool and a stepping stone to work through complexities and consider the connections and power dynamics at play.

As artists we are not necessarily coming to conclusions or to a particular point, but displacing and recontextualising, a Deluezian unfolding of the singular to speak to the multitude. But within this, the most important element is self-awareness and being flexible enough to make adjustments to our practices as we go along. To borrow from Cyndi Lauper: Caught up in circles, confusion is nothing new.

There are many types of artworks and artists that use reperformance. They can be grouped through this medium, however, conceptually can be disparate in method and intention. Each of our participants came with their own source material. Some of these are highly personal, familial stories, while others are connected to topics and histories of relevance to the themes of the participants’ practices. Some participants were finding new directions for themselves, and others were delving deeper into projects already underway.

Working in this way takes time. Time to unpack and repack, but also to give thought to ethical considerations. I would also add, from my own experience, often the creation of highly personal work that may be connected to your family, runs in parallel to the hard work of unpacking this emotionally and sometimes physically within your life. All of these works are smaller components to larger research and studio based projects; works within themselves, but also gestures towards broader ideas. A bringing back of previous occurrences into our minds, to analyse them in new contexts.

The works-in-progress were shown at a public presentation on Friday September 13, 2019 at School House Studios. They took the form of videos and durational performances that were presented simultaneously.

Video:

Emanuel Rodriguez-Chaves, 1 de Julio, 1981
What can we do to represent an action, an event, a person, when there are not enough images found? How can art deal with this issue without being didactic, thus, losing agency? Are images empty containers waiting to be filled? This work tries to work within an intricate frame of issues around political violence, ethics, the use of archives, and the role of art.

Indiah Money, Soft Hands, Can’t Remember
This piece is calling to Money’s Wiradjuri grandmother, Dorothy. Dorothy Williams was a member of the Stolen Generation. There weren’t many possessions or photographs of hers handed down to her son, Money’s father. In these works Money performs lost images of Dorothy to embody her memory.

Sumarlinah Raden Winoto, the little mermaid
with music by Lera Auerbach
a study of Die Klein’s Meerjungfrau by John Neumeier (2005) on fluidity of bodies. a re-enactment of Neumeiers choreography as a practice of self love and acceptance in a non-binary body.

Performances:

Georgia Kartas, Card Games
Georgia Kartas will excavate her great-grandfather’s journals by listening through the ears of his daughter, and her grandmother, Γεωργία Κάρτα. Born in Russia in 1893, he went to school with Stalin, and brought his father’s bones back to Greece when forced to flee on foot. Γεωργία never knew her own birthday, and hid her personal past when she married. This history is pockmarked with half-truths, twisted facts, and contradictory information. So the work is absorbed through sound alone, in the original tongue, because it is not a riddles to be solved, but a sense of history to be felt.

Sean Miles, Ngāti-Raukawa, Ngāti-Ahuru, Balls were wasted on you
The term takatāpui, in modern Te Ao Māori, is a way of identifying that relieves us from the colonial binaries of gender and sexuality that have been imposed on our bodies and ways of being by white Western culture. Jane Campion’s 1993 film The Piano is a pakeha love story set in 1850s Aotearoa and features some Māori characters in the background of the films main narrative. My source material for this re-performance is Mika X Haka’s brief background cameo as an apparent takatāpui in this film. To me, Mika’s enactment is their way on connecting to our takatāpui ancestors. By re-performing Mika’s pose and movements, I hope the connect to this trajectory of takatāpui whakapapa, whilst simultaneously pulling takatāpui portrayals from the background to centre focus.

Kate O’Boyle, Part 1: Extracting the extractor
This work sees the artist performing alongside a piece of excavated Carrara marble. Removed during renovations to a religious site in Naarm (Melbourne), the large slab was cut into 30 kg pieces for human transportation. Attempting to extract an excavation bolt from the dense stone, Kate considers the use of marble in religious ritual and institutional authority. The first step in a journey which will see Kate take the scarred marble block back to Italy at the end of this year, this performance is an initial meeting of bodies and an attempt not at undoing, but locating human intervention and material agency.

Sha Sarwari, From Me, To You
Next year will mark the 20th year since my arrival to Australia. My imagination is still trapped in the past, my experience in detention centre, through the fierce political and social discourse surrounding refugees. From Me, To You is slight accounts of fragmented memory that reflect the mood of detainees and the time spent I in the detention centre in the year 2000 on the wake of the new millennium.

Kate Stodard, specimen
Stodart’s performance considers the dehumanising language used in mental illness diagnostic and treatment processes.

Camila Galaz is a visual artist whose practice uses video, drawing, and installation to explore intimate connections to history and collective memory. Recent exhibitions in Melbourne include c3 Contemporary Art Space, BLINDSIDE, Seventh Gallery, and KINGS Artist-Run. In 2018 she presented online projects with Sister Gallery and The Digital Writers’ Festival. Galaz is the recipient of the 2018 MECCA M-Power Mentoring Scholarship from the National Gallery of Victoria and the 2019-2020 Australia Council EMPAC New York Residency. She is also a founding member of the performance art collective ‘The Band Presents’ (TBP), and co-ran the TBPHQ Art Space in Docklands, Melbourne from 2017-19.

We acknowledge the custodians of the land on which these workshops took place, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and pay respect to their Elders, past, present and emerging.