February 14, 2024Features

Culture Lab International Exchange Announcement

You may remember when we went out with an EOI for CultureLAB - Arts House’s (Melbourne/Naarm) creative development exchange residency last year. It’s Basement’s first time being a part of this exchange and we feel so fortunate to be able to provide such a major opportunity for independent artists. It’s also been pretty awesome to deepen our relationship with such a flippin’ cool and like-minded organisation across the ditch. 

CultureLAB supports independent artists to generate new work whilst in residence for 4 weeks in both Naarm and Tāmaki Makaurau during 2023 - 2024. During the EOI Basement invited proposals from artists whose work has a focus on the future / futures / futurisms in glorious multiplicity. Artists of all disciplines were invited to seize this opportunity, to practise for their future now, unbridled, untamed and untethered from the capitalist, colonial and patriarchal grasp. 

So… how’s it going???

From Tāmaki, the indomitable CONJAH + Henry Lai-Pyne were selected to go to Naarm to develop GG - a project that instigates a collision between game and dance/movement cultures, enabling playable performances augmented by both dancers and audience. A hybrid digital/live work unfolding across 3D animation, motion capture, sound, street dance, and gaming elements, situated in a large-scale set. 

The final evolution of this work with collaborators Sam McGilp and Harrison Hall will be a large-scale set in public space, bejewelled with screens/portals to a digital world. The set is a site for playful interaction for audiences, and a place for dancers and community to perform and share stories that meander through physical and digital forms.

Jahra and Ooshcon have a continuous creative partnership (known as CONJAH), by which they facilitate young people’s programmes, hold festivals, create work together and empower each other’s practices. CONJAH are the NZ Arts Foundation Springboard Award 2022 winners, receiving mentorship from renowned artist, Lisa Reihana.

Ooshcon ‘The Decipherer Of Circles’ is an experimental Hip Hop movement artist of Samoan and palagi origin, based in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Ooshcon is an award-winning Hip Hop theatre choreographer, a respected Hip Hop and open-style battler, a sought-out performer with experimental skills in a range of Street Dance styles. 

Jahra (Arieta) Wasasala is a Fijian/Pakeha world-builder, movement psychopomp and writer of realms. Within Viti/Fiji, they hail from the provinces of Macuata and Ba. Jahra Wasasala is based in the relational space between a world ending and another world beginning. Jahra centers dance as the chosen tool of transmutation, living-memory, and embodiment, whilst expanding that living work into sound, adornment, poetry, sculpture, and digital realms through their collaborations that have travelled internationally to Aotearoa, Australia, Hawai’i, New York, Berlin, Guahån and Canada. Jahra has created commissioned embodiments for institutions such as the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Aotearoa, The Banff Centre in Calgary, the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC., the University of Canterbury and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, as well as performing their solo work at numerous venues internationally, collaborating with artists and performing for companies such as Christoph Winkler, Amrita Hepi, Ta’alili Company, Kaha:wi Dance Company and Henry Lai-Pyne (eek). Jahra affectionately sees their work as ‘Oceanic Terror-fi’, and constantly moves towards being spirit-led and blood-led in their evolving creative offerings.

Ooshcon, alongside creative partner Jahra Wasasala, as their creative identity ‘CONJAH’ received the 2022 ‘Arts Foundation Springboard Award’. As CONJAH, they facilitate workshops, hold festivals, create touring dance work together and empower each other’s practices. Ooshcon directed Aotearoa’s first Krump-Theatre work ‘HYPAMASS’, which focused on the hardships involved in Pasifika and Maori men navigating themselves towards love.

Henry Lai-Pyne (aka Eek) is a multimedia artist and designer working across film, fashion, moving image, and experimental music. His individual creative practice often involves ‘kitbashing’, the merging of various mediums, processes, found sounds, and subject matter, to create new narrative, symbology, and world-building. Henry’s individual and collaborative work has been featured at Soft Centre, Arts House, AsiaTOPA, ACMI, Melbourne International Film Festival, AIDLAB Hong Kong, Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, Berlin Art Film Festival, and Montreal Independent Film Festival. Alongside Henry’s creative endeavours, he has been involved with a number of new-media and art organisations including Liquid Architecture, Exhibitionist, MetaObjects, and Soft Centre, as well as practising artists Lu Yang, Bridget Mary Chappell, Jahra Wasalla, Atong Atem, and Hector Clark. Additionally Henry’s digital art practice extends to more commercial areas of the creative industry, including commissioned design for fashion label, INJURY; having features on SHOWstudio, VOGUE, Fashion Film Festival Milano 2022, Bucharest Fashion Film Festival 2022.

Abd from Naarm, dancer, choreographer, and teacher Rebecca (Bec) Jensen will join us next month! Bec’s work includes performance for theatres, galleries, unconventional spaces, and video. She works through dance, utilising its equally speculative and practical powers to encourage reflection, connection, and transformation in the context of the Anthropocene and an increasingly digitised world.

Rebecca has presented work in FRAME Biennale 2023, Kier Choreographic Award 2016/2022, Front Beach Back Beach 2022, CONTACT HIGH, Gertrude Glasshouse 2021, Blindside Gallery 2021, Dance Massive 2015/2017. Since 2013 she has co-directed Deep Soulful Sweats with Sarah Aiken. 

Rebecca is influenced by her extensive history working as a performer with artists including Jo Lloyd, Lucy Guerin Inc, Shelley Lasica, Adam Linder, Alicia Frankovich, Lee Serle, Sandra Parker, and Harrison Ritchie-Jones. She is a 2015 DanceWEB scholar, Australia Council Cité internationale des Arts resident 2020, and was Resident Director of Lucy Guerin Inc in 2023.

While in Tāmaki, Bec will be developing Embryonic Punch - a new cross-disciplinary project that works in the nexus between the Contemporary Dance and Professional Wrestling scenes in Aotearoa. Pro-wrestlers and dancers draw on spectacle, grandiloquence, gimmick, flesh, and violence underpinned by a dedicated investigation into each form’s techniques, history, and subculture.

While here in March, Bec will be working with Aotearoa contemporary dancers and members of Auckland's wrestling community.