The Art of Discomfort
Art is often an expression of society’s most uncomfortable questions; a place where audiences’ unresolved dilemmas find some company. How – and why – is art equipped to take on topics that might otherwise be off-limits?
We talk to some people familiar with the question. D.A. Calf is a theatremaker with The Guerrilla Museum, whose immersive live art has looked closely at death. Scott Price is an actor and a key deviser with Back to Back Theatre with a well-known penchant for provocation. And Jessica Thom has blogged extensively about her life with Tourette’s – at her website, you can cast ‘funny votes’ for almost 6,000 of her tics – while, as alter ego Touretteshero, sharing the creative, playful side of the often misunderstood condition.
Together in discussion with Emily Sexton, we hear from these artists whose creative work veers close to boundaries – whether death, censorship, trust or the base conditions of our existence.
D.A.Calf is a sound and installation artist, musician, composer and producer. He is one half of The Guerrilla Museum, an immersive theatre/live art company whose work Funeral features at Melbourne Festival 2016.
His works have appeared at DarkMOFO, Brisbane Festival, Adelaide Fringe, Melbourne Music Week, Electrofringe, Tilde Festival of New Music, SXSW and Ars Electronica.
Writer, artist and part time superhero, Jess Thom co-founded Touretteshero in 2010 as a creative response to her experience of living with Tourette's syndrome. Touretteshero is about reclaiming the most frequently misunderstood condition on the planet, challenging people to think differently, and building a more inclusive society.
Jess is a visual, performing, and participatory artist based in London. She graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2005. She has worked as an artist educator and workshop facilitator for the Tate, the South London Gallery and the Chisenhale and has undertaken an EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) funded residency.
Emily Sexton is a former Head of Programming for the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas.
She was the recipient of a prestigious Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship in 2014. Previously, she was Artistic Director of Next Wave (2010–14), where her key achievements were a radical rethink of an arts festival model, and a series of landmark commissions, publications and talks featuring First Nations artists, co-curated with Tony Albert and Tahjee Moar and titled Blak Wave.
In 2013, she was Artistic Director of the Ian Potter Cultural Trust’s 20th Anniversary Celebrations at the Melbourne Recital Centre. She was also Creative Producer for Melbourne Fringe Festival for 2008–10.
Emily has been a proud Board Member for Arena Theatre Company, Snuff Puppets and Theatre Network Victoria, and is alumnus of the Australia Council’s Emerging Leaders Program (2011). She is a regular peer assessor for the Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, and other philanthropic trusts and foundations. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications, English) from the University of Sydney (2005). She is a regular host and facilitator for writers’ festivals and arts organisations around Australia.