Posted on Jan 21, 2020 in Projects, The Future is Floating

The future is floating: an on the water exchange

Curated by Vanessa Kwan

Residency Dates: January 13-26, 2020


the future is floating website

Other Sights in partnership with Sydney Festival and Tribal Warrior presented the future is floating in January, 2020. Canadian and Australian artists were brought together in a two-week-long exchange residency speculating on floating futures. 

How do we occupy space differently? This question lies at the heart of a conversation that began 4 years ago in Vancouver, Canada between Sydney Festival Director Wesley Enoch and Canadian arts collective Other Sights for Artists’ Projects. Bringing together two harbours across the Pacific – False Creek in Vancouver and the iconic Sydney Harbour – this project is rooted in those conversations – and in a desire to explore the complex legacies of colonial presence through the lens of artistic practice. 

Cook’s much-heralded landing at Botany Bay was a point on an ongoing trajectory that also included Canada’s West Coast. These similar, if distinct, cultural histories prompted Other Sights to propose a platform during the Sydney Festival where artists from Canada and Australia might engage in an open-ended conversation that shifts, quite literally, with the tides: a floating residency. 

Through a collaboration with Sydney Harbour-based cultural ambassadors Tribal Warrior, the future is floating included Sydney-based research residencies in 2019 with Jeneen Frei Njootli and Cheryl L’Hirondelle and in 2020 brought Canadian artists Cindy Mochizuki, Marianne Nicolson, Holly Schmidt, Syrus Marcus Ware and T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss together with Australian artists Claire G. Coleman, Megan Cope, Keg De Souza, James Nguyen, Venessa Possum, Jen Rae, Latai Taumoepeau, Salote Tawale and Leanne Tobin in a two-week-long exchange. Through dialogues, artist-to-artist sessions, keynote talks, field trips and public events in the city and on the water, this program highlighted artists whose work explores occupation, activism, listening and diaspora in complex, evolving ways.

the future is floating consisted of multiple public events featuring performances, talks and listening events on the water:

An Evening with Marianne Nicolson, Megan Cope & Leanne Tobin

Marianne Nicolson – an artist/activist of the Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw First Nations, Canada – conversed with with Australian Aboriginal artists Megan Cope (Quandamooka, QLD) and Leanne Tobin (Darug, NSW), discussing their artistry, identity and the preservation of cultural knowledge. This discussion was moderated by Clothilde Bullen, Senior Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collections and Exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. 

The Floating Sessions

The participating residency exchange artists invited Sydney Festival Guests to enjoy an experiential, fully immersive evening on Sydney Harbour aboard Tribal Warrior’s Mari Nawi ship. Experimental works in progress, this event series featured experimental soundscapes, animated discussions, presentations and performances.

  • floating session I: the future is floating – Venessa Possum introduced and closed the evening with Gurugal (Forever and a Beginning) and guwaga baragula – a breathing flood tide finale.  Claire G. Coleman performed a text that she had written entitled We Are Water. Syrus Marcus Ware performed a work titled Antarctica. Jen Rae presented 2130 Sleepwalking Towards Extinction a performance lecture and Evacuate a soundscape produced in collaboration with Marco Cher-Gibard. 
  • floating session II: Rescue Remedy: Light Relief in Recovery – Venessa Possum gave a Welcome to Country address, followed by a series of performances entitled: Salt Ritual, Opening the Talisman Circle – Protect the Sould, Salote Learns End of  the Lunar New Year Suki Yaki, Liturgical Dance – Customary public workship dance of the sea, Icing the Ocean and Feasting. These works were performed by T’uyt’anat – Cease Wyss,  Latai Tamoepeau, Salote Tawale, & Cindy Mochizuki. 
  • floating session III: Museum of the Future – Following a Welcome to Country by Venessa Possum, James Nguyen, Holly Schmidt & Keg de Souza invited Mari Nawi guests to step into the Musuem of the Future 2020, and enjoy the guided tour as well as the Museum of Extinct Species on the upper cabin deck. 

the future is floating was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council and the Government of British Columbia.

Image Credits: Images 1 & 2 – Tianna Barton, Images 3-8 & 10 & 12 – Rafaela Pandolfini, Image 9 & 11 – Vanessa Kwan

Also connected to the future is floating: Currents & Waves, an online Radio Station and Invasion Day, a Foreshore Session featuring Christie Lee Charles, Senaqwila Wyss, and Jeneen Frei Njootli.