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Carriageworks presents a new performance commissioned by Australian artist Kaz Therese

Australia’s largest contemporary multi-arts district will feature Sleeplessness, a new performance by Australian artist Kaz Therese (them / them). Presented from 4 to 13 August 2022, the performance blends drama and documentary to lead the audience on a journey to discover the artist’s family history, shedding light on the intergenerational impacts of institutionalization and migration. Part mystery, part documentary, part forensic investigation, this typically Australian story has been developed with the support of Carriageworks and will be complemented by panel discussions and workshops.

Developed over the past two decades by Kaz Therese, Sleeplessness is a radically honest and empathetic look at three generations of women in the artist’s family in an attempt to recover a story that had been erased. Starting with the discovery of a death certificate for their Hungarian grandmother that mysteriously labels her death as a German man, Therese takes the audience on a fascinating and exciting journey as she works back in time to unravel the mysteries of their family. The performance follows a fractured narrative, traveling through Budapest, the history of the Forgotten Australians in the 1950s, the artist’s upbringing in western Sydney and his arrival to the present day.

Artist Kaz Therese:

I grew up without knowing my family history. My mother erased all of her childhood memory. Apart from a photo of my grandmother sitting on my mother’s fireplace, there were no other details about what had happened to this woman and why we didn’t know more. I couldn’t sleep from not knowing and became obsessed with trying to recreate an archive for my family that didn’t exist. I thought I could mend my family body through art, and in doing so I found a story that I feel most Australians can relate to.

This story has so many different elements, but ultimately it’s about class conversations in Australia and a struggle against erasure. It is shedding light on forgotten Australians and highlighting the impact of institutionalization on Australian children, which is still an important issue. These are the stories we don’t often hear about.

Blair French, CEO of Carriageworks:

It is truly a privilege for us to offer Kaz Therese a platform to tell their incredible story, which is both deeply personal and universally resonant. Carriageworks is dedicated to supporting artists in creating new works and it will be a special time for the public to experience this performance which has been developed over many years.

Insomnia was commissioned by Carriageworks. The creative team includes director and co-writer Anthea Williams, cultural leadership Aunty Rhonda Dixon-Grovenor, sound designer Anna Liebzeit, video artist Zanny Begg, lighting designer Karen Norris, choreographer Martin del Amo, director of scene Anastasia Mowen, video consultant Samuel James, Photography – Budapest Margie Medlin, Photography – Sydney Tania Lambert, producer Erin Milne and Bureau of Works and curator Daniel Mudie Cunningham.

The production will also be supported by a public program that includes a post-show conversation on Saturday 6 August with Kaz Therese and Dr. Adele Chynoweth moderated by Sarah Miller AM. In addition to a conversation on Thursday 11 August with the participants of Class Action, facilitated by Aunt Rhonda Dixon-Grovenor, composer James Hazel and Kaz Therese. This participatory seminar will explore the themes of class and poverty in the Australian art and cultural landscape. Bringing together members of the Forgotten Australians, Stolen Generations and Refugee community, speakers include Care Leavers Australia Network CEO Leonie Sheedy, artist Gadigal Nadeena Dixon and artist Mahdi Mohammadi.

Kaz Therese is also a Writer in Residence at Carriageworks, where they will finalize the development of Sleeplessness. This will also lead to the publication of articles in the Carriageworks Journal.


Season details

Place: Body shop
Date: August 4 – 13, 2022

For more information click here

Photo credit: Alex Wisser

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