SJ Norman

SJ Norman By Morgan Hickinbotham E1601037591329


SJ Norman (b. 1984) is a cross-disciplinary artist and writer. His career has so far spanned 15 years and has embraced a diversity of disciplines and formal outcomes, including solo and ensemble performance, installation, sculpture, text, video and sound.  He is a non-binary transmasculine person and a diasporic Koori of Wiradjuri descent, born on Gadigal land.  Since 2006 he has lived and worked between Australia, Germany, the UK and the United States. 

His practice is routed through the volatile interstices of the social and the corporeal. Working extensively with durational and spatial practices, as well as intimate/one-to-one frameworks, Norman's primary medium is the body: the body as a spectacle of truth and a theatre of fantasy; a siphon of personal and collective memory; an organism with which we are infinitely familiar and eternally estranged; a site which is equally loaded and empty of meaning, where histories, narratives, desires and discourses converge and collapse. Norman frequently utilises relational and process-based choreographies as a mode of structural critique: reflected in his work is an abiding interest in the space of co- and inter-corporeality, the forces that suffuse it, and how the live act might be utilised as a mean to examine, disrupt and re-inscribe prevailing systems of social power. Norman seeks through much of his work to implicate the body of the audience and the body of the performer as co-agents in magickal acts, through which they seek to forge hybrid languages of ritual and knowledge-making. His trajectory as an artist has largely been fostered outside of institutional education and under the direct mentorship of numerous artistic Elders, esteemed performance artists such as Guillermo Gomez-Peña, Yoshito Ohno, Akaji Maro and Marina Abramovic counted among them.

Norman has received major commissions from the Biennale of Sydney (AU), Performance Space New York (US), Dark Mofo (AU), Venice International Performance Week (IT), Spill Festival of Live Art (UK), Fierce Festival (UK), In Between Time (UK), Arnolfini (UK), Live Works (AU),  Australian Experimental Art Foundation (AU), Edinburgh Festival (UK) and Brisbane International Festival (AU), Melbourne Festival (AU), Tarnanthi Festival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art (AU) and Tate Modern (UK), the Science Gallery London (UK), Die Fabrikanten (AT), and the Festival of Live Art (AU), to name a few.

He has presented lectures and colloquia on his practice at such venues as Tate Modern (UK), the Art Gallery of NSW (AU), University of California (US), Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (US), Victorian College of the Arts (AU) and Princeton University (US).

In addition to his practice as an artist, Norman is also the founding curator of Knowledge of Wounds, a multi-disciplinary cultural festival and knowledge exchange for queer First Nations people based in Lenapehoking (New York City). He is the current co-director alongside his collaborator, scholar Dr. Joseph M. Pierce (Cherokee Nation).

He has received numerous awards for both his art and his writing, including a Sidney Myer Fellowship and an Australia Council Fellowship, two of Australia's most prestigious honors for art. He is a 2020 Headlands Centre residency recipient. His work has been featured in numerous books and academic journals. A survey monograph of his artistic work, edited by Hetti Perkins and published by Art+Australia, is forthcoming.

Aside from his artistic and curatorial practice he is also a writer of fiction, essays and poetry.  His work has been published and commissioned by Meanjin, Overland, Stylus, Kill Your Darlings, The Cultural Studies Review, The Red Room Company, the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) Quarterly and Realtime to name a few. He was the co-editor of the book Dreaming in Motion, a survey of Indigenous Australian film. He has won or placed in numerous literary awards, including: The Lifted Brow Prize for Experimental Non-Fiction (Longlisted) 2018; The Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award, 2017, (Winner); The 2017 ABR/Elizabeth Jolley Award for Short Story (Longlisted); Overland/Judith Wright Prize for Poetry (1st Runner Up and High Commendation) 2008 and 2009, and the 2007 The DJ (Dinny) O'Hearn Award. He is  currently represented as a fiction author by literary agency Curtis Brown. Their award-winning first collection of short fiction is forthcoming in 2020.

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