PADA, a new contemporary arts organisation, has launched in Adelaide. Their first public program, Near And Far, will take place in October.
Emma Webb and Steve Mayhew work down the street from each other: Webb at Vitalstatistix, Mayhew at Country Arts SA. Over co ffee, they pondered how new arts organisations form – and so decided to see for themselves. Less than one year later, PADA (Performance & Art Development Agency) will launch its first public program in October. Near And Far is this program: five nights, four performance works and one on-going conversation. For a first program, the calibre of the artists is high. The celebrated Jason Sweeney will complete his trilogy of works on silence; Sarah-Jane Norman will present Stone Tape Theory in partnership with the TARNANTHI Festival; Kviss Búmm Bang and Sandpit will encourage the public to complete their project; Sarah Rodigari will collaborate with Josie Were on a new rendition of Reach Out Touch Faith, originally presented at Going Nowhere; and Jane Howard will open discussions between the local public and international critics. Underlying these disparate works are the themes: distance, time, exchange and sustainability. “As we worked on it throughout the last nine months, the program re fined itself into two durational works (works that happen over five days, over long periods of time) and two works that were quite participatory and immediate, but they’ve been made over long distances and in exchanges,” explains Mayhew. “A lot of the art is about a sort of mediated, delegated type of performance, where someone performs as or for you, really asking questions about the importance of the presence of the artist, as well as themes around sustainability and the environment,” says Webb. These issues are points of tension and exploration in the arts, and PADA will bring together a selection of con flicting opinions and resolutions. Take, for example, the theme of environmental sustainability. PADA don’t want to be “too didactic” about it, but they do want the audience to consider why many of these collaborations have happened without travel between partners. “It’s certainly a provocation to those artists about how to collaborate without being in the same room as each other,” says Mayhew, “and there’s a huge discussion in those works about carbon footprint and whether reducing their air mileage is a solution, or is the amount of electricity needed to power up their computers so they can talk more than that? Is that just as much as a flight?” “Are there completely other choices people could make?” asks Webb. She answers: “KBP and Sandpit aren’t travelling; Sarah will be travelling here to be with Josie, but then the question is why is it so important for her to do that and to physically be here?” Involving a pod of critics in the program has its own provocations. “ They’re showing amazing foresight (or recklessness!) inviting a critic in to make an artistic work about criticism using the tools of criticism to critique the other art in the festival,” says Howard of her critical documentary project, Simple Arts Transfer Protocol. “One of the reasons we have festivals is to bring in interstate and international work audiences wouldn’t otherwise see, but we rarely sit down and consider the vast distances artists and their work globally travel. I hope Near And Far creates a space where these distances are considered, as well as the way artists globally intersect and create dialogues.” Beginning and sustaining conversations will allow PADA to ‘measure’ where these works stand in the international community. “I’m going to be really fascinated to see what the other critics around the world are talking about in relation to what we’re delivering. Jane’s project is a very clever way for us to get a bit of an understanding of what we’re doing –” begins Mayhew. “– and get a bit of an idea about what people are gravitating to,” concludes Webb. “Obviously there are huge conversations around ‘what is international’, ‘what does global responsibility look like’, ‘does it feel overwhelming to people’, how do you enact it in your own life’? A lot of these are addressed in the works, but Jane will be able to speak to that moment in time and facilitate those conversations.” Near And Far will run from Friday, October 16 to Tuesday, October 20. The Sunday in the middle will begin with an afternoon of discussions before the evening’s works commence again. Due to the nature of the works, visitors can spend one whole intense evening at the festival or pop in and out over the ve days to track the progress and evolution of the art. There is no set door price. Says Webb: “Near And Far is indicative of what we want to be and what we hope we will be.” padapada.com.au Image: Reach Out Touch Faith II. Supplied by PADA