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 an artist from Perth, currently based in Sydney, who works across painting, photography, video, installation and performance. As a self described ‘outsider amongst outsiders’, his practice is primarily concerned with the experience of the ‘other’ in society. Abdullah’s projects have engaged with different marginalised minority groups and he is particularly interested in the experience of young Muslims in the contemporary multicultural Australian context. Through these processes and explorations Abdullah extrapolates this outlook to an examination of universal aspects of human nature.
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 writes books, TV screenplays, columns, essays and feature journalism. He’s the author of the memoir The Family Law (2010), the travel book Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012) – both nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards – and the Quarterly Essay on Safe Schools, Moral Panic 101 (2017). The Family Law is now also an award-winning TV series for SBS, which Benjamin created and co-writes.
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