An Ongoing Conversation
ABOUT THE CULTURAL FORUM:
In 2016, we launched the "Cultural Forum" as an annual series of talks on topical issues with a twist. We conceived of the series as one continuous conversation.
The idea to run the series as an ongoing conversation came from the renowned international curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, who had a profound impact on me at this time. In the same period that we were developing the form, he had run a 48-hour marathon interview at the Serpentine Galleries in London.
For the event, one artist after another stepped in to continue the conversation. I thought, "what if we saw the talks not as a unique state, but an infinite conversation," which became the theoretical spine of the program.
THE FORUM AS AN ACTION
However, unlike Ulrich, these talks emphasize action. We invite people, not professional speakers per se (although some speakers have been) but people who are taking actions to initiate change, activists, volunteers, “doers” and we ask them to share what we can do to be part of positive change. We ask them to answer the question: “what can I do?” Which we hope leads to post-forum actions in the real world.
When we first started the series, we were concerned that talks like these did not make a difference until Ian Hamm joined us for a talk on the Stolen Generations. He was asked, "what can we do? How can we make a difference? Do talks like this matter?"
Hamm responded: “The apology to the Stolen Children mattered. The Stolen Generations marker matters. Talks like this one matter,” which is a statement that continues to drive the forums.
THE FORUM TO-DATE:
Since 2016, we have come to see our talks as continuous conversations with humanitarian-driven humans, which continues in 2021 as a staple in Yarra annual programs. We have held talks on topics that have expanded to an international level on subjects that include, Manus Island, the environmental crisis, and the Stolen Generations with people that are making a difference in the world we live in.
Click the topic heading beneath to listen to the talks.
In this talk, the first we ever did, the international photographer Barat Ali Batoor shares how he uses the medium of the photograph to voice the plight of the Afghani people.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Following on from Batoor, we discuss violence against women, which is a global epidemic that was receiving worldwide attention through campaigns like # Me too and Time Is Up at the time.
With an alarming 1 in 3 women affected we invited three guest speakers working in relevant areas: Trish O’Donohue (Head Projects Officer Safe Steps Family Violence Resource Centre) Emily Hanscamp (CEO of HerSpace), and Caitlin McGrane (social media researcher and communications professional) to address violence against women.
Baroonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library, 7/03/2018
THE PIN: A BLOG ABOUT RACE, IDENTITY, AND CULTURE
We hear about "The Pin," a blog that Lucie Cutting and Nkechi Anele started.
MANUS ISLAND AND DETAINMENT
Michael Green (Behind the Wire), Abiola Ajetomobi (Director of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre), and Virajith Hewaarachchi (Solicitor and Migration Agent from Refugee Legal) discuss Manus island and interventions that make a difference.
Baroonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library, 6/06/18
INDIGENOUS AND ENDANGERED LANGUAGES
This talk responds to the United Nations "International Year of Indigenous Languages."
Nick Thieberger (current Director of the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC)) shares with us about the Pilbara Aboriginal language center.
Unfortunately, our second speaker, Mandy Nicholson, had to cancel but we hope to speak with her another time.
Baroonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library, 13/03/19
Next up, we discuss vital questions around themes including identity, belonging, and place at a local and national level with local makers and thinkers including, Santilla Chingaipe and
We ask, "how do we create a place of belonging?"
Baroonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library, 1/05/19
WAS. IS. ALWAYS: INDIGENOUS ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN
An evening of open thinking and deep listening surrounding design with Jefa Greenaway. Jefa is a Wailwan|Kamilaroi architect and co-authored the International
Indigenous Design Charter
Baroonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library, 4/09/19
ADDING THE "A" TO STEM
Award-winning artist, Maxime Banks, Stacy Gildenston (Founder of Melbourne Combat Robotics), Mei Liu (experience developer, Museums Victoria), and Erica Hediger ( CEO of the Creative Element)
discuss how to add the A (the arts) to STEM (shorthand for the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math) and WHY it matters.
Baroonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library, 7/08/19
THE 'NEW' NORMAL
We discuss the "new" normal and possibilities for renewal in the future with a panel of local change-makers: Santilla Chingaipe (award-winning journalist, filmmaker, and author), Clare Parry (certified Passivhaus designer and sustainability manager at Development Victoria), and Jade Sarita Arnott (founder and designer of Arnsdorf).
THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY
We discuss the current climate crisis with Dr. Joelle Gergis (climate scientist), Solomon Yeo, (co-founder of Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change (PISFCC)), and Anna Langford (Friends of the Earth Act on Climate Collective) to understand how people around the world are making a difference.
FEMININE ARCHETYPES ON SCREEN
This conversation is led by Kristy Matheson (Director of Film programming at ACMI) with special guests Lee-Ann Woon (Madman Entertainment) and film critics Cerise Howard and Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.
We ask: Why do we repeat the motif of the evil stepmother, old woman as a witch, and the ‘other’ as a figure that inspires horror?
MASCULINE ARCHETYPES IN POPULAR CULTURE
In this conversation, we chat about modern pop-culture characters like the comical best friend, polemical 'soft boi,' and 'woke bro,'
with Adolfo Aranjuez (publications and content manager for Melbourne International Film Festival), Dion Kagan, (research officer at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health, and Society). and Mark Shorter, (lecturer in sculpture at VCA, and practicing artist).