Director's Welcome

Welcome to Underbelly Arts 2017. This year will see 21 new works created by Australia’s boldest new voices in contemporary art.

I approached the selection of this year’s program with a feeling, rather than a particular theme. It’s a big feeling that happens sometimes in small moments, and a small feeling that happens sometimes in big moments. It’s a feeling that the world is soft; that you can push at the edges of it and it will give you more; that you can fit into it in many more ways than you first thought possible; that there is a tension between different things squeezing against each other.

What has emerged from this squeezing feeling is something incredible, a sort of squeezing of our histories, our cultural icons and our perceived relationships into something altogether new. In this year’s Underbelly Arts program, each artist has taken something they are deeply connected to and squeezed it to see what new shapes emerge.

They are squeezing Christian liturgy and Chinese opera, cultural songs and clay, they are squeezing hot chips and squeezing into each other, they are squeezing Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground, Albert Camu’s Myth of Sisyphus and Beyoncé’s Watermelon.

They are squeezing Daoist shrines, Indian noise music, public complaints, memes, microbes, Tamil devotional films and reality TV. The artists are squeezing the stories of their multi-geographical, multi-cultural, multi-faith, multi-historical, multi-gendered upbringings and I am honoured and excited to share them with you at Underbelly Arts 2017.

I would like to extend a special thanks to Talia Linz, Tulleah Pearce, Joel Stern and Emma Pike for assisting with the selection of this year’s core program.

See you in September!

Roslyn Helper
Director, Underbelly Arts

Honey Long and Prue Stent, Body Orbit, 2015