How do we find the light within the dark? How do we cultivate beauty out of trauma and begin to heal, for ourselves and one another?
Both interdisciplinary and intercultural, Exhale is about Indigeneity, accountability and trauma. It explores the relationships and boundaries forged between Indigenous cultures on foreign lands; negotiations between environmental and urban lifestyles; and the ability to heal through storytelling.
Exhale is the creation of Black Birds – a Sydney collective fast gaining kudos for energetic, uplifting performances that astutely dissect the female Black and Brown experience in Australia. Incorporating art forms including spoken word, movement, dance, song and story, Black Birds’ work is at once intimate and unexpected, challenging and empowering.
Listen to the Artist Talk/Q&A featuring Emele Ugavule and Ayeesha Ash, facilitated by Torika Bolatagici.
This work was developed with the support of Next Wave festival, Arts House and the City of Melbourne.
Black Birds is a performance about home, belonging and most importantly hair. It may not be about everyone’s hair, but everyone is certainly welcome.
Emele Ugavule and Ayeesha Ash have a few things in common; names that seem difficult to pronounce, hair and the colour of their skin. The list could continue but nothing unites them more than their experiences as brown gals with Afros. Is their hair so big because it’s full of secrets? Find out as they discuss, explore and offer a vision for what it means to be a woman of colour in modern day Australia.
Adding spice to the traditional theatrical form and reimagining the rule book, this show blends music, movement, spoken word and real stories to create an intimate, unexpected and at times irreverent performance experience.
Sela Vai - Choreographer
Amber Silk - Lighting Designer
Tyler Hawkins - Production Designer
Ben Pierpoint - Sound Designer
Sopa Enari - Dramaturg
Development of this work was supported through Q Lab with The Joan
Black Birds and ATN Photography were thrilled to collaborate for the exclusive Sydney screening of 'Abantu - People of Art'.
It’s 2018 and what better way to continue empowering Black creatives, than through unity in the area of the Arts; where likeminded individuals can come together and celebrate one another in a safe space where we are appreciated and valued.
ATN Photography's first ever documentary film, 'ABANTU - People of Art', is about young creatives based in Zimbabwe who, despite lack of support and limited economic resources, are following their passion and break into the creative industries.
All funds raised will go towards a convention/exhibition for creatives based in Zimbabwe (2 of the main cities, Harare and Bulawayo) that will take place in December 2018. The convention/exhibition will be to create a support base for creative individuals across the country, uplifting one another and giving them an opportunity to network and collaborate!
Photos: Gianna Hayes
“This one goes out to the coloured sisters Down Under…’
Brown Skin Girl melds visual art, spoken word, music and movement, drawing audiences into the lives of three Black and Brown women as they navigate the complexities of life as twenty-somethings in Sydney. The show is vibrant and hard-hitting, shifting tempo and mood to delve into subject matter including racism, dating, identity, self-worth, body positivity, culture and Afro hair.
First performed at the inaugural Festival Fatale (Sydney, 2016), Black Birds evolved the show into an immersive experience for Griffin’s Batch Festival (2018). Black Birds look forward to growing the show once more for their 2019 season at The Old Fitzroy Theatre (Sydney).
Their previous self-titled work was named by Sydney Morning Herald as “one of the hottest stage tickets for 2017.”
‘The kind of theatre that doesn’t simply engage audiences, but empowers them far beyond the hour of audience attendance.’ - Broadway World
Dates: January 29 - February 9
Featuring: Ayeesha Ash, Emily Havea, Angela Sullen,
Director: Ayeesha Ash
Producer & Assistant Director: Emele Ugavule
Choreographer: Sela Vai
Rehearsal Photographs: Emele Ugavule
Performance Photographs: Zaina Rahmed
The 30 minute performance aimed to "highlight the struggles of being mixed race in a country that you don’t belong to. Emele Ugavule directed Ayeesha Ash & Angela Sullen in this short pop-up piece which incorporated movement, spoken word & music. The show followed their journeys as young girls both born outside of Australia (Grenada & the United States of America) and their struggle through teen hood to find community and likeness around them growing into young adults. It flowed in and out of verbatim, monologue testimony, and interviews to highlight how difficult it is to find somewhere to fit when you are disconnected from your homeland, from your people, from your culture.
This show was produced with the support of the Community Reading Room.
Indigenous knowledge systems vs. Scientific explanations.
ORA/MATE looks at both sides of the coin when explaining naturally occurring disasters, and the colonial interest in romanticising "the last" of Indigenous practices rather than preserving them.
Development of this work was supported by HIGH/WAY 234 with PACT, PYT| Fairfield & The Joan.
Blackbirding: a slave trade that swept through the Pacific and Far North Queensland in the 19th Century.
Indentured Labour: A type of exploitative Labour that was implemented after the abolition of slavery. Labourers worked on plantations and construction sites in the British Colonies.
Today, four women talk about their relationship with the indentured labour practice and the displacement it’s caused on their families and communities. Told through video installations, movement, poetry and music, Emele Ugavule weaves through the past, engaging with the installations to question her own relationship with Blackbirding.
After finishing their first self-titled full length performance work at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Black Birds are back with a new creation exploring the history of their namesake.
This project brought together visual and performing artists to explore traditional Fijian knowledge on the sacredness of the head, headrests (kali) and hair in Fijian culture. Museum research and community consultation formed the basis of our investigation as we revealed new ways of understanding contemporary Fijian hair practices and rituals; extending the notion that objects are containers of memory.
In collaboration with a Fijian community development expert Thelma Thomas, artists Torika Bolatagici, Lienors Torre; Emele Ugavule and Ayeesha Ash (Black Birds) produced an ambitious multi-artform project that premiered in the exhibition Wantok (curated by Luisa Tora) - part of Mangere Arts Centre - Nga Tohu o Uenuku’s programming marking the 125th anniversary of suffrage in Aotearoa New Zealand in April 2018.
This work is being developed with the support of the Australia Council.
Soul Food (God's Choice - Certified Organic Blackness) highlights how the commodification of foods and resources from the Carribbean & the Pacific are also a commodification of our culture and how religion dilutes the richness of our culture by subtly pushing white capitalist agendas in the name of integration into our traditions. The iconic coconut milk can brands both God's Choice & Anti-Throne to remind us of our own complicit in this commodification when we buy into religion. We are God's Choice - Black, Brown, and beautiful just the way we are.
Anti-throne is an ode to shared respect. As benches are common meeting places in the Pacific & mats are common sitting places we invite elders only in our Native tongue to sit on the bench. However, because it is a bench it must be shared - in contrast to the point of a throne.
On September 8 we teamed up with Lunar Sequence (Sohan Judge) to host the premiere screening of their video editorial SUPERMANE. The video editorial, featuring the track by Star Slinger was brought to life by Lunar Sequence’s exploration of photographs in motion.
Flow Studios was transformed into a dreamy gateway to the 70s and provided the perfect space for our immersive evening. The night, hosted by Cadi|Sydney icon Stelly Gappasauress included live photo booth curated by Emele Ugavule, on-set film photography by Zain Ayub, DJ sets by Jhassic, Munaaasib and NK, performances by Black Birds (Ayeesha Ash & Emele Ugavule) and Srisha Srirathran (Australian Poetry Slam Sydney & NSW Champion) and a Q&A/Artist Talk with Sohan Judge (facilitated by Ayeesha Ash).