Moments in Time
Sydney artist Tom Christophersen is providing a platform for young people to express themselves and preserve their memories, through a range of events that are part of the Mardi Gras Festival. Reg Domingo reports.
With Mardi Gras marking a milestone in 2013 – this year, it turns 35 – a common thread in many of the festivities revolves around celebrating history and preserving memories.
It’s certainly a theme that informs the focus of Sydney artist Tom Chistophersen who, in conjunction with Shopfront, a contemporary arts centre for young people, is spearheading a number of events during the festival, specifically aimed at same-sex attracted youth. There will be workshops, a youth cabaret event, interactive artworks and even the creation of a time capsule.
It’s Christophersen’s second year facilitating workshops within the youth program of the Mardi Gras Festival.
“This year, because of Mardi Gras’ 35th anniversary, the theme [of the workshops] is ‘provenance’. It’s all about who we are, where we came from and what positive memories, people, relationships, art and music made us who we are today.”
On Wednesday, February 13, Christophersen will lead Open If Forgotten, and arts workshop for young LGBTIQ people at GL@M (Gay and Lesbians of Manly) Clubhouse at the Manly Youth Centre.
“The event is aimed at young people 12 to 24,” he says. “I wanted the workshops’ age limit to be so varied as I wanted it to reflect the inclusive nature of the festival itself. Mardi Gras is an opportunity for LGBTIQ people from a whole lot of backgrounds and experiences to come together and celebrate. For me Open If Forgotten and the other youth workshops needed to uphold this value.”
At the workshop, young participants will be given the opportunity to express themselves by creating their own artworks, photography and soundscapes.
“People need not bring a thing. I will lead the group through a series of image-making exercises. We are going to be recreating album art with polaroids, recreating memories through sound, and making small paintings, just to name a few of the exercises.”
An Open If Forgotten workshop will also be held at Fair Day on Sunday, February 10, where the general public can contribute to the making of a unique work of art – a ‘Memory Dress’. A toile will act as a blank canvas for people to leave their mark and memories.
“We are asking all members of the public to bring small mementoes or pictures of mementoes that they do not mind incorporating into our dress. Whether it be through hot glue, sewing, tying or pinning, we want to transform this blank dress into an Alexander McQueen-esque masterpiece made up of your favourite memories from your own provenance.”
The dress will then be exhibited at a youth cabaret event, Late Night Shopping: Provenance, also part of the Mardi Gras Festival, on Thursday, February 21, at Shopfront in Carlton.
“Through Open If Forgotten and Late Night Shopping, we hope to achieve a couple of things: a body of work showcasing the ideas and creations of the young people – something that they can really be proud of – and also the opportunity to make new friends and pick up a couple of new tricks that may serve them in their own creative lives.”
Both the dress and the personal works created from the Manly workshops will then be placed in a time capsule. It’s fitting project, in light of the festival’s 35th anniversary.
“I think now is a great time to create a time capsule,” Christophersen says. “Things are in the midst of shifting quite rapidly – geographically, politically and socially – and particularly the role of young people today is something that seems to be in a state of limbo. For me, 2013 feels like the eye of a storm. Something’s happening. And we need to document what we are and who we are and why we love and what we like now, so people can experience the life we were leading.”
Christophersen says the time capsule is a one-off project and its final destination is still in discussion.
“We are in conversation with large scale art museums and other artistic venues including Shopfront. The capsule will be completely legitimately handled and documented – we want this baby to survive a few decades somewhere dark and surrounded by quick dry cement. I don’t want to see it again til I’m at least on a walker.
“Only one [time capsule] will be made,” he adds, “which is why it is so important for people to seek us out in the youth zone at Fair Day and create and donate something for the dress. We want to include as many people as we can.”
[Image] Tom Christophersen. Photo: Reg Domingo
Open If Forgotten workshop is on Wednesday, February 13, 5pm-9pm, Manly Youth Centre.
Open If Forgotten will also be at Fairday on Sunday, February 10.
Late Night Shopping: Provenance is on Thursday, February 21, 8pm-11pm, Shopfront Contemporary Arts, Carlton.
For more information, visit www.mardigras.org.au