Our Initiatives Special Program

Cross Borders

In November 2011 eight artists from around the Southeast Asian and Asia-Pacific region came together for a ten-day creative laboratory held at Bundanon, an arts centre and artist retreat located in idyllic bush land south of Sydney in NSW, Australia. Titled Investigating Cross Border Collaborations, the project was a partnership between Australian dance organisations Critical Path (NSW) and Strut Dance (WA), the Goethe Institut (Indonesian and Australian branches), and the Bundanon Trust.

The aim of the laboratory was to provide a space for the participating artists to share information about their individual creative processes, and to investigate new ideas for future collaborative work across neighbouring continents. The artists selected to participate were Jerome Kugan, a writer and musician from Malaysia, Australian dancer/choreographer Rhiannon Newton, New Zealand performance artist and choreographer Cat Ruka, Indonesian choreographer Fitri Setyaningsih, indigenous Australian choreographers Simon Stewart and Vicki van Hout, Vietnamese choreographer Tran Ly Ly, and Tongan Australian performance artist Latai Taumoepeau. The participants worked alongside four laboratory facilitators: German-based visual artist and scenographer Doris Dziersk, Filipino dance writer/critic Joelle Jacinto, Singaporean curator and dramaturg Tang Fu Kuen, and Australian choreographer Leigh Warren. Also present were the directors of Critical Path and Strut, Margie Medlin and Agnes Michelet, and Critical Path’s Program Manager Helen Martin.

A video documentary series was created of the Cross Borders Laboratory as an extension of the original collaborative opportunity offered by the lab. The artists involved generously lent their skills and their recordings to each other’s projects, and contributed their understanding and memory of events to the editing process. The twelve videos are in effect new creative works, made from the residue of the archive.

It remains difficult to find ways to maintain collaborative working relationships across the geographical and cultural distances of the Asia-Pacific region, to find the funding to support them, and to hit upon the right mix of timing, artistic sensibility and opportunity that might lead to ongoing conversations. This documentation process, like the lab itself, has been a way to start conversations, to plant seeds for future collaboration. With many hours of footage left on the editing room floor, there is yet more that could be explored in the future.


Date & Location

Tuesday 4 January 2011 - Wednesday 4 May 2011