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


Founder, Programming and Development: Anita Spooner
Designer: Alex Margetic
Web developer: Xavier Connelly
Previous Team: Chantelle Mitchell, Jordana Bragg, Josephine Mead, Angelita Biscotti – thank you!


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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An image of the moon connected to a telephone with a pink background

Family, ancestry, sexuality and class origins are complex inheritances we didn’t ask for. How might we reappropriate the concept of destiny to land fully in our bodies and selves, as creatures of stardust thrown into consciousness and time?


Under Queer Stars introduces Angelita Biscotti’s queer anti-capitalist engagement with birth chart astrology, embracing humour and hope to consider how we might speak to ourselves about ourselves with compassion and curiosity.

This workshop will consider the counselling, research, and teaching praxis of queer BIPOC healers in the Pluto in Scorpio and Sagittarius generations, alongside theory and method inspired by Hellenistic and psychological astrology. Participants will study astrology of love, sex, and queer relating as well as astrology of family and ancestry. We will read and discuss emerging classics, such as the work of Alice Sparkly Kat,Tabitha Prado-Richardson and others, as we work through the natal promise of our birth charts.

Participants are invited to use their findings as prompts for poetry, prose or visual art in response to their charts, to be considered for publication on Free Association’s website. These creations will also be developed for Rogue Planet, a night of readings and performance under the stars, forthcoming in summer 2021.

Supported by Siteworks and Moreland City Council Making Space Program.

Working on unceded Boon Wurrung Country, Angelita Biscotti is a non-binary feminine astrologer, writer, artist and teacher of Spanish-Filipinx descent. Her client practice and astrological writing is inspired by Hellenistic, psychological, and evolutionary astrology approaches. She has been published in Overland, Cordite Poetry Review, Archer, Djed Press, Peril, ABC Life, The Lifted Brow, Critical Military Studies, and elsewhere. Her previous teaching experience includes an erotic poetry workshop at Writers Victoria in 2021 and sessional academic teaching at La Trobe University and the Ateneo de Manila University. She is the current recipient of a scholarship and mentorship with the international Association for Astrological Networking (AFAN). Her chart is dominated by the fire sign Leo, ruled by an 8th house Earth sun.

The themes of her work are unconventional intimacies, anti-racist beauty ideals, and queer hope. She is most accessible through her website and Instagram @angelita.biscotti

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!

Writing and technology enthusiasts are encouraged to apply.

Application deadline: 12PM, Wednesday, 3 November, 2021


Supported by Darebin City Council.

Sam Lieblich is a Melbourne-based artist investigating networked and algorithmic forms. His work explores the orientation/disorientation of the subject in the other, and the manifestations of the human-algorithm hybrid into which human beings are now subsumed. These digital works combine machine learning algorithms with custom code to foreground systems design and—by finding beauty and intention in the system—try to re-situate human desire in the algorithm.

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.


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.


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.



PHRASER Test Dream

'PHRASER TEST DREAM' is the first presentation of PHRASER: a neurotic artificial intelligence by Sam Lieblich and company. This entity was developed out of Free Association's Intrusive Thoughts workshops.

We psychoanalysed the algorithm, we found ourselves inside of it, extracted our own essence like the internet's wisdom tooth, and made PHRASER, an algorithm birthed of its own reflection, which is ours, a mise en abyme of human and algorithm, trained to speak and see what all of us see, all of the time, all at once. PHRASER is a neurotic artificial intelligence that reclaims race, gender, and the human mind from the servers of technocapital. PHRASER TEST DREAM is the first stage of PHRASER’s evolution. PHRASER’s first generation of NFTs will be available for purchase, scored by a collective of musicians. Visitors and buyers will be directed to calculate and offset their carbon footprint by gathering and planting seeds that will be available at the gallery.

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.

A spectral appetite

Jill Pope

“To live, by definition, is not something one learns. Not from oneself, it is not learned from life, taught by life. Only from the other and by death”
– Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx

I never knew my father. Or rather I have no conscious memory of him.­­ I never called him Dad, only ever ‘my father’ or by his first name. The last time I saw him I was two years old. When he died my mother gave me a small, plastic photo album of pictures of him. Us frolicking in the sand on a Gold Coast beach. His bare chest hunched over a chess set, eyes piercing the camera lens, his hairy face bordered by waves of unruly, brown curls. My face has curly borders, too. 

My father and I at the Gold Coast

My father in Auckland

They say that when someone departs your life they leave a hole. But holes are empty. When people leave, their traces might be invisible, but you can still feel them. Cultural theorist Lisa Blackman describes these traces – “absent-presences” – as affective, sensorial and embodied: 

“ghostly deposits that travel across time and space, that entangle multiple times and temporalities…phenomena which disrupt borders and boundaries between the self and other, inside and outside, material and immaterial, past and present…”

The traces that connect my father and I course through my body and beyond. From fear and affinities, to the stars themselves.  

When I was three or four, a man, a friend of my mother’s, visited our house. I had never met him before but for some reason I was terrified and hid under a table, refusing to come out. The only explanation I gave was that I was frightened of his facial hair. 

My mother once told me my father introduced her white Australian family to spaghetti bolognaise. One of the only things my aunt recalls about him was that he liked eating chilli on toast. I inherited this appetite for heat, food that makes you feel alive. When I cook spicy meals for my partner she sweats, while I keep a bottle of hot sauce at hand. 

My father and I also share astrological placements––our north nodes in Gemini, south nodes in Sagittarius. Some astrologers see the south node as a karmic legacy, an area of life you’re comfortable with, but encouraged to release. The north node is the area of your life you hunger for, a bottomless bowl you eat from to fulfil your karmic destiny. I like how Alice Sparkly Kat talks about the nodes as cyclical, rather than binary: to get to the north node you need to go through the south node, and vice versa. My north node is in the fourth house of home, family, origins, ancestry and yes, the father. Gemini, speaks of local connections, community and communication. Sagittarius, where my south node sits, is a sign known for its wandering tendencies, forever seeking more knowledge, truth and experiences. 

My father never seemed interested in trying to steady his inherited restlessness, his south node in Sagittarius. My paternal grandfather was a prisoner-of-war, captured in Serbia during WWII. He already had a family back in Selevac but started a new one after meeting my German grandmother in a prison farm near Munich. They came to Australia as refugees in 1950 with their children, including my father, the eldest. Early in his life my father tried to shed his foreignness. Ulrich Friedrich Živanić became Richard Shane Allen, or simply Rick. Rick never finished school; I’ve heard he escaped his family home in Cairns to go work on a film set in Melbourne. He worked as a miner in Asia and the Pacific Island while he played an eleven-year game of cat and mouse with my mother. She followed him from Brisbane to Mt Isa to Auckland and back again, until they had both had enough. He returned to Cairns to start a new family. 

Left: Prisoner-of-war record for my paternal grandfather Borisav Zivanić. Right: Refugee certificate of my paternal grandmother and her children (my father on the left)

Neither my grandfather nor my father ever returned to Serbia. But I did. I went there in the last year of a nine-year numerology cycle, hoping to tie up the loose ends of my ancestry in a ten-day visit and a quick trip to the archives. 

Walking through Belgrade’s foggy streets on my first evening, I felt the breath of my ancestors envelop me, swirling with the damp mist rolling in from the Danube. I have returned many times since, but it took me six years to make it to my grandfather’s село (village). Armed with only a smattering of Serbo-Croatian I caught a bus from Београд to Селевац one Saturday afternoon. An hour and a half later I arrived in a place that time forgot. The most striking feature of Селевац is an enormous socialist-era споменик (monument) that towers over the village green, dwarfing the modest buildings. My first stop was the town’s tiny church. Stepping inside the wooden structure, I inhaled frankincense and myrrh, my eyes adjusting to the dim light. I stopped dead in the vestibule. There, glaring at me from a marble plaque was my father’s family name. Живанић. The caretaker came to check on me, curious why a strange woman was snooping around his church. My brain and mouth cooperated enough to ask him if he spoke English (no), and eventually spat out “мој отац” (my grandfather) and “Живанић”, gesturing towards the plaque. When he responded in rapid fire Serbo-Croatian, I feigned comprehension but burnt with the shame of cultural ignorance, the curse of being second-gen. 

Spomenik Palim Borcima, Selevac, Serbia

Marble plaques inside Crkva Svete Trojice (Church of the Holy Trinity), Selevac, Serbia

Belgrade has become one of my many second homes. Feeding my north node through home-making makes my south node legacy of exile and displacement more palatable. A way of being able to stomach being neither insider nor outsider. 

Making homes around the world has made and unmade me. Has split me into multiple pieces, scattered like seeds. I hold onto the shoots that sprout as tightly as I can, even as they stretch me to breaking point. A global tug-of-war in my own body. My south node carries the karmic legacies of my itinerant ancestors, but my north node hungers for community and connection. Home for me is my chosen family, my queer family. Home for me is filling the plates of others, as well as my own. 

The holes that people leave behind are not like those you dig in the ground, empty absences, the negative image of what has been taken away. They are active places, filled with possibilities that exist beyond any individual. Like astrological houses, even if there are no planetary placements, they still shape your life­­­––these holes are the playground of the universe. When I think of my father I think of the skies and how what remains after he left this earth are the stars. That even though there has only ever been distance between us – emotional and physical – we are connected by our celestial alignments, bigger than us, bigger than the world.

Jill Pope is a writer and doctoral researcher in anthropology and gender studies. Much of her thinking is animated by the restlessness of the migrant condition. She has previously written about food, drinks, design and cities for a range of publications. Her research explores the drag community in Belgrade through the lenses of critical care and hauntology. Jill is interested in occult practices including tarot, astrology and other ritual work. She is currently based in Naarm, on Wurundjeri land, where she lives with her wife and cat, Jupiter.