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.

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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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!

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.

Free Association Monthly Horoscope by Resident Astrologer and Fantasy Worker Angelita Biscotti

December 2020

Notice the moments you feel restless, relentless. Can you take spare minutes to cool down, perhaps with a nice bubble tea or iced coffee? Keeping your cool at all times is wise but notice also the moments when slowing down leads to sluggishness – it’s a good time to borrow from the heavenly energies and take artistic, emotional risks with courage and poise. 

The Lunar Eclipse in Gemini at the start of the month sends aftershocks into our struggles with communication. “Seen” doesn’t always mean seen. The texts won’t always go through, so try calling. 

A solar eclipse occurs in the Sagittarius New Moon on the 15th. Release (without bitterness or nostalgia) whatever keeps you from dreaming abundance into your life. If you are able, it’s a fine time to make a financial donation to causes that matter to you. Material solidarity and higher wisdom go hand in hand. 

If you’re still feeling the echoes of the Gemini eclipse, channel that restlessness into Free Association’s Sagittarius Season offering. Psychiatrist-neuroscientist-writer Sam Lieblich brings big Pisces energy as he leads “Intrusive Thoughts: Internal Monologue of a Stressed Singularity”, a series of free 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! These workshops are free and open to writing and technology enthusiasts. Participants will develop a text to be for publication on Free Association’s website. Access services including Auslan available on request. Writers of all abilities and from any state or territory are encouraged to apply.

(High theory-loving Jupiter, still in methodical Capricorn at this time, thoroughly approves.) 

Rebellious and high-minded Uranus moves into steadfast and earthy Taurus on 2nd December. Dreamy Neptune stays in messy Gemini a little longer. Intense and probing Pluto hangs out in stoic, disciplined Capricorn. Dream large, work hard, find stark truths in the details, but also don’t put faith in your fears. Fears are the paranoid fantasies of the exhausted. Go on, take that nap. 

Meanwhile, momentum is building for the historically significant December 21st Great Conjunction, with Jupiter and Saturn meeting in Aquarius. If you’re a night owl, you might see the giants meeting in the sky at 12.30am on Tuesday morning the 22nd. Jupiter and Saturn meet for a beer once every 20-ish years, but the last time they caught up in an Air Sign was over 200 years ago. If Aquarius were an evening haunt, it would be a glittery outdoor drag ball, a safe space for people of all sorts, the more ‘misfit’ the better. Jupiter brings a sense of grandeur and visionary luck everywhere it goes. Saturn, Aquarius’s planetary lord, is the spendthrift buzzkill that saves you from your worst self, creating space for the opportunities most suited to you. Jupiter and Saturn downing pints in Aquarius brings wisdom, an examination of conscience, and a desire to fight for a fairer world. Whatever your chosen art form, I am excited to see what you create with these energies afoot. 

Aries & Aries Rising 

Write, draw, read, document what sings to your ambition, anger, and erotic yearning. Not on Snapchat or Instagram stories – choose an enduring medium because you’ll want to retrace your creative process in this period. Not everything you create will be worth instantly sharing on social media, or with the object of your strong emotions. But don’t reduce the glorious to the miniscule. Back your own efforts to find the clearest way to say all that needs saying. 

Taurus & Taurus Rising 

Write, draw, read, document that which you hold most dear. Physically, literally. It may not be much, depending on how your year has been. But the act of naming the treasures within reach allows you to honour the abundance that’s always been with you, and release the drama that’s made the hard days worse. The later part of the month might feel more relaxing. This is a good time to try new recipes, or take baby steps learning a new art form. 

Gemini & Gemini Rising 

Write, draw, read, document the people and places where you feel safe. Safe doesn’t mean boring. Safe doesn’t mean stagnant. Your moods can be mercurial as you recover from the aftershocks of the lunar eclipse in your sign, so the first part of the month can feel more frenetic than usual. Give yourself room to manoeuvre. Creating from a position of stability will give you the confidence to be the master communicator you always were. 

Cancer & Cancer Rising 

Write, draw, read, document the moments you’ve been comforted. Your heart is not alone in the world, no matter what’s happened in the past few months. When making plans, choose your conversation partners wisely. Don’t read job and grant application results on a Friday afternoon, or immediately before a date or coffee with a friend (unless the subject says “Congratulations!”). What’s a film or book you cherish yet have almost forgotten? Give that another go.

Leo & Leo Rising 

Write, draw, read, document what makes you proud of yourself. It’s okay to be pleased by the littlest of things. Acts of kindness without expectation look good on you. Do something lovely for someone else before looking in the mirror. Any kind of emotional heavy lifting work (therapy, heart-to-heart chats, etc) may be better after the 16th. Go to a virtual museum – or even physical museum if it is safe to do so. If you have the opportunity to obtain beautiful new art supplies at reasonable cost, consider it. 

Virgo & Virgo Rising

Write, draw, read, document in ways that invite you to take up space. This season is about laying foundations for the message you’re meant to share with the world – a message the world needs, so respect the amount of work that must go into it. Be gentle with yourself and your tools. It’s a good time to explore innovative platforms for creative expression. The interpersonal, psychological and spiritual investments you make at this time have the potential to endure, so be discerning about where you devote your attention. Honour your body’s need for rest. 

Libra & Libra Rising 

Write, draw, read, document the moments you were somebody’s love object. You are loved and looked up to and in a year like this, it’s easy to forget. State your truths plainly and without entitlement. The latter part of the month may bring reasons to inhale and exhale deeply, so find spaces where the air is fragrant. You’re a natural collaborator but it’s a good time to start solo work that offers exciting shifts in perspective. Nitpicking is unbecoming. The messages in your phone indicate that people are thinking about you. Lead like someone who knows they are loved. 

Scorpio & Scorpio Rising 

Write, draw, read, document whatever makes you bite your lip. Face the love, the anger, and the sorrows that run deep. The more directly you confront them, the less overwhelming they become. The more honest you are about what you really want, the more space you create for that energy in your life. Resist the urge to take big risks that involve money and personal resources – but you’re welcome to fantasise about giving in to your impulses. What needs changing in your community? Find connections between the intimate and the political, and let that inform your art.

Sagittarius & Sagittarius Rising 

Write, draw, read, document all the places you want to go. Physical landmarks, for sure, but also the places in your mind, and the traces you want to leave in other people’s hearts. You might have restless feet at the start of the month, but be patient. Good things will find their way to you if you stay humble and continue honing your craft. Commit to your ambitions, curiosities, and appetite for abundance. Strategy is its own art form, too. There’s more than one way to get to all the places you need to be. 

Capricorn & Capricorn Rising 

Write, draw, read, document all the tasks you’ve completed. Not just the business and social calendar. Give yourself credit for the work you’ve done on yourself – the therapy sessions where you put in 100%, every time you’ve showed up for a friend in need even if it meant being a little late to a non-essential work meeting, the moments you stopped yourself from throwing a tantrum because of little Premier Pro fails that no one else (except another Capricorn) would notice. Do something messy with your hands. 

Aquarius & Aquarius Rising 

Write, draw, read, document the ways you want to show love – to someone, or something, or the world. If you can, hold off until after the 16th to take action on these. It’s a beautiful time to dream – and you are a dreamer, so don’t hold back on your vision. Extreme versions of what you want might not always be possible, so take the time to imagine a multiplicity of ways you can find satisfaction. Find grandeur and gratitude in the tiniest of lovely spontaneities, and it will be easier to feel the beauty and fullness of being alive right now. If you’re emerging from crisis, create cracks in your walls, especially on the 21stand beyond. It’s a good time to let the light in. 

Pisces & Pisces Rising 

Write, draw, read, document the ways you experience belonging. If you’ve been feeling like working on projects that require intense focus and devotion to detail, now is a good time. Perhaps you are the project you’d like to work on. Immersive art forms like music, performance and slow stitching may offer especially deep joy after the 21st. Own and honour the times you’ve had to put your foot down. Reward your sense of smell with scents that excite you. If it is safe to do so, hug someone hard enough to feel their heartbeat upon yours. Lead with graciousness.

Angelita Biscotti is a biracial, nonbinary Spanish-Filipinx-Australian writer, artist, astrologer, photographer, poet, and occasional fashion and figure model.
@angelita.biscotti