Arts House announces first instalment of 2024 season
Arts House has unveiled Season 1 of its 2024 program, marking the final collaboration between its co-artistic directors Nithya Nagarajan and Emily Sexton.
The first half of the year will see nine contemporary art offerings from leading artists and curators take over the venue, alongside the introduction of Arts House’s new Equity-Builder and Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2023-2028.
Season 1 2024 will highlight these strategies, working with artists and creatives with lived experiences from their communities of focus, to prioritise change and justice within the arts.
“Our Equity-Builder is dedicated to building a culturally safer ecology for artists and arts workers who endure barriers to access,” Arts House acting artistic director Olivia Anderson said.
This commitment responds to calls for structural change, and the City of Melbourne’s vision for an Inclusive Melbourne.
The season will open with Harrison Ritchie-Jones’ CUDDLE from February 20 to 25, a contemporary dance work which Mr Ritchie-Jones will perform alongside dance partner, Michaela Tancheff.
Setting up the space to resemble a wrestling match, CUDDLE weaves in elements of martial arts, rodeo barnyard, figure skating, and Latin dance, to “make an amalgamation of movements and invent a new form of forms”.
“CUDDLE is a strange deep dive into a plethora of my lived experiences, explored very abstractly and performatively,” Mr Ritchie-Jones said.
“It feels to me like an expression of how complex and nuanced our feelings can be – I often feel like joy, sadness, and confusion can sometimes all bundle in tiny moments, the work aims to propose but not name, offering images, ideas and scenes that perhaps conjure reflection or stir up feelings.”
Mr Ritchie-Jones says preparing for such a complex show has been intense, but also “fun-filled with laughter and play”.
“We would wear heavy duty ice hockey gear and balaclavas, usually practicing in car parks and public spaces,” he told North West City News.
“We would also do early morning runs to Rocky’s Eye of the Tiger and begin to build ourselves up like warriors, mentally and physically, so we could be ready to fight out the dance of our lives.”
With Arts House being one of the first spaces that Mr Ritchie-Jones performed in Melbourne in Pile of Bones, he is “very grateful and very excited that they [Arts House] are presenting my work”.
“It’s a space that I watched a lot of my favourite artists like Jo Lloyd, Lucy Guerin, Mellanie Lane, and Alistaire Macindoe perform over the years, so it holds a special appeal to me,” he said.
“It’s very cool to now be sharing my own work in the very same walls as the people that who inspire me.”
The lineup for Season 1 2024 also includes a range of other performances, exhibitions, talks, meals, and even role-playing games such as Daley Rangi’s Dissent, which takes “players” on an interactive game-path through the streets of North Melbourne.
There will also be an opportunity for locals to meet and chat with the team at Arts House and other members of the community at their neighbourhood gathering on February 14. •