Daley Rangi is the 2020/21 recipient of the Stephen Cummins Residency, as part of Performance Space's annual Queer Development Program. A proud advocate for bodily integrity and neurodiversity, with lived experience of the latter, Daley Rangi evades categorisation and invades the status quo; speaking truth to power and reorienting hierarchies. We sat down to have a chat with the Perth-based artist to learn about their practice.
You call yourself an “Antidisciplinary Artist” which I love and can mean everything but nothing at once, how do you identify with this title?
No idea. Self-biographies and identity labels are all-at-once discomforting, superfluous, and crucial. They always seem to be in dialogue with systems of power though. It’s like any of the other intersectional identities that might be associated with me, either by choice, offer, or force - it depends who is writing the definitions. Storytelling runs thick in my blood, trickling sands of time left by ancestors of all different kinds of kin, so maybe that’s the alternative title - and stories are not always formed in words. Sometimes they’re deep in our bodies, our being.
Participatory performance art is unpredictable and usually designed to make audiences squirm to some extent. Why do you continue to return to this form of practice?
I wanna push people off the fence. Choose a side, either side, but just feel something, do something, anything. That’s probably incorrect too, because I honestly don’t have an answer for that question, the above is all I can think of right now. It also changes from minute to minute, day to day, year to year. Who knows what I’ll do in ten of them? It’s less about making audiences uncomfortable, but rather about using my own body and stories and battles as the archeological site to dig up some big ideas. I usually refer to myself as ‘inspired by ancestry, fuelled by injustice.’ Humans are instinctively born to engage with other beings, I just provide a framework for some deeper engagement.
As such, how do you prepare yourself (artistically, emotionally, mentally) for performances that you only have partial control over?
It’s kinda weird and funny to think about - I honestly don’t prepare for performing as much as folks think I might, can, or should. I enjoy what I do. My neurodiverse brain would hurriedly plan an escape from artistic practice if I didn’t find some heavy enrichment within it. Rest is vital, but I’m terrible at it - I’ll never sleep with ease, so I find peace in connecting to old friends - earth, water, fire - which you can combine in the form of tea, yay! Or a bath with (insert delicious earthy human soup ingredient). Presence is probably important, so I ensure that I have a hot cup of peppermint tea and try to ensure I’m ready to connect with whoever walks through the door. Humans are chaotic, and while I won’t take on their individual energies, it’s important to understand that every audience member is a unique, complex soul, and I try to adapt to what they need. Sometimes. Sometimes, I have a bad day too. Existence is pain, I get it, let’s share it.
As part of our Queer Development Program, you’ve been awarded the Stephen Cummins Residency. What will you be working on during your 1 week residency with pvi collective?
I’ll be exhuming a new work from some grave experiences; tentatively titled ‘I Don’t Owe You’, this autopsy will involve examining and reflecting on queer labour and socio-cultural debt. Maybe. It’s all very fluid, and flux is the word of the week. I’ve been super blessed with the presence of S.J Norman and Dino Dimitriadis as mentors, and ultimately it all boils down to really crunchy conversations about how we exist in our bodies of genderfuckery amidst external and internal violence. Essentially, the action of the project is the slow plucking of each of my beard hairs, one by one, in a durational, interactive live performance, but I’m still very much investigating the framework which surrounds it, and what the exchange is with audiences. Have you ever thought about what you don’t owe? Go for it after reading this interview, grab a writing tool, and throw down a few sentences starting with ‘I don’t owe you…’. It’s quite freeing to release yourself from expectation and embrace boundaries.
Noting how we have had to reschedule this program a couple of times, how has this project evolved from its initial conception?
The original project, Takatāpui was actually completely different in content, concept, and the urgent…well…urges it was following, and since then, with distance and time, and the year that was, that other work has become its own beast premiering early 2022 here on Whadjuk Noongar boodjar. That particular piece is essentially now an unflinching, sardonic monologue on the violence that comes with intersectional identity and body sovereignty; a colliding storm of story and sound, including disco lip sync, and some thick atmospheric beats from amazing local musician, Anesu. Obviously, violence comes up a lot in my work, as well as ethics - I’m really intrigued by the human complexities of it, all spurred on by injustices I’ve experienced first- and second-hand. Essentially, this new work is inspired by that, and previous piece, Lipstuck, and it’s really just the next micro-journey into unpacking resilience and resistance in the face of adversity. But I’m honestly utter shit at really getting to the juicy core of the apple that I’m always snacking on in my art. Maybe one day I’ll finally reach a seed, plant it somewhere it need to grow, and fertilize it with my remains.
Lastly, what’s next? What should we keep an eye out for?
Keep an eye out for each other. Thanks for offering time to engage with my thoughts.
Follow Daley on Instagram: @daleyrangi