The Interrobang: A Festival of Questions
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Australian racism is a slippery thing. We’ve seen it (at the football, on a bus with a singing French tourist, in select policies of successive governments, at anti-something protests). We know it exists. But as a nation – a deeply multicultural one, arguably defined by migration – we haven’t progressed to a realistic understanding of who we are, what that means and what we thus expect of ourselves and each other.
How do we distinguish our ideals from the real world? Is mainstream Australian – whatever that means – capable of living up to its own myths? Let’s not let subcultures off the hook, either. What draws our meanest impulses out of hiding? When do we laugh about our differences … and when do they come to define us?
With artist Abdul Abdullah, writer and comedian Nakkiah Lui, Aboriginal health expert Gregory Phillips, journalist and political commentator Voranai Vanijaka and Gaysia author Benjamin Law, we’ll explore Australian equality on a number of fronts: representation, social support, sex and decision-making. Our panellists consider what it might take to achieve a culture that reflects a true picture of Australia back to itself – and what we’ll be losing if we don’t.
Abdul Abdullah is a Sydney-based artist, originally from Perth, who works across painting, photography, video, installation and performance. His works are included in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the University of Western Australia, Murdoch University, the Islamic Museum of Australia and the Bendigo Art Gallery. In 2015, Abdul will be exhibiting at Primavera at the Museum of Contemporary Art and at the Asia Pacific Triennial at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane.
Nakkiah Lui is a writer and actor and Gamillaroi/Torres Strait Islander woman. She is a co-writer and star of Black Comedy on ABC TV and is a monthly columnist for the Australian Women's Weekly Online. She has been an artist in residence at Griffin Theatre Company and was playwright in residence at Belvoir from 2012–2014.
Gregory Phillips is from the Waanyi and Jaru peoples, and comes from Cloncurry and Mount Isa. He is a medical anthropologist, with twenty-five years’ experience in leading change.
Gregory is Chief Executive Officer of ABSTARR Consulting, is an Associate Professor of Aboriginal Health, and serves on several boards and committees, including chairing the Cathy Freeman Foundation and AHPRA and the Australian Medical Council’s Indigenous health strategy groups.
Benjamin Law is a journalist, columnist, screenwriter and author of two books – The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012). Both were nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards. The Family Law is now in its fourth reprint, and has been translated into French and adapted into an AACTA-nominated SBS TV series.
He's the co-author of the comedy book Shit Asian Mothers Say (2014), with his sister Michelle, and Law School, with his mother Jenny Phang. He also wrote the September 2017 Quarterly Essay, 'Moral Panic 101'. He is a frequent contributor to Good Weekend, Frankie and the Monthly.
The Interrobang – a new festival from the Wheeler Centre – is looking for the best questions in the world.
Ask your questions and vote on others, then join us on 27–28 November for a feast of frequently unanswered questions – as we present your most controversial, revealing, funny and insightful ideas to a 28-strong Brains Trust of the world’s most inquisitive thinkers.
Pose your question at The Interrobang festival website. We’re building this festival on your curiosity, so brace yourself – and wonder hard.
• City of Melbourne
• The University of Melbourne