Artistic Director Jeff Khan on Fusebox Festival: Virtual Edition

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This weekend, PSpace dives into the digital performance dimension, partnering with our friends at Fusebox in Austin, Texas to present the 2020 Fusebox Festival: Virtual Edition.

For the last few years, PSpace has been working with Fusebox on a curatorial exchange, sharing artistic research as well as ideas about festival-making and contemporary performance. This was set to culminate in the presentation of works by 5 Australian and Asia Pacific artists at the 2020 Fusebox Festival this year. In guest curating this program, it’s been my huge pleasure and honour to work with a cohort of brilliant artists to imagine what an artistic conversation from our part of the world might offer the local and global audiences that
converge around Fusebox each year.

As with most of our fellow artists and organisations, our plans were scattered to the wind by the still-unfolding crisis of COVID-19. However Fusebox—with their characteristic intelligence and spark, and led by their indefatigable Artistic Director Ron Berry and Associate Artistic Director Anna Gallagher-Ross—have channelled all their energy into creating an alternate, virtual version of the 2020 Festival we’d been planning. I see this as a supreme gesture of optimism and generosity in our current, suspended global moment. And it’s been an instructive and exciting ride working with a selection of the PSpace-curated artists to re-imagine their contributions to the Festival for virtual space.

In curating this program together, we were led by a genuine curiosity about the possibilities that online and digital spaces might hold for live performance. Conscious that many artists and organisations feel rushed into online spaces by the pandemic crisis and the urgings of our funders and stakeholders, we saw the Virtual Festival as an opportunity to joyfully and openly explore what liveness might mean in these spaces. What kind of connections are possible between artists and audiences when performance events take place online? What can we learn from each other? And what is meaningful in this context? These have been some of the questions underpinning our curatorial approach to this festival.

This has led to a wildly diverse range of approaches from artists: from digitally-mediated performances to virtual studio visits, online cooking classes, call-in talk shows and everything above and beyond. We hope this program opens up possibilities and plenty of questions and inspiration to take forward into our uncertain year ahead.

I often recall a toast made by Ron at the conclusion of the 2018 Fusebox Festival. Raising his glass to the diverse and eclectic community gathered together for the festival, he paid tribute to “the unlimited potential of people, sharing space together.” This statement sums up so much of what PSpace and Fusebox have in common, and provides constant inspiration for my own curatorial practice.

It is this spirit which we carry into the 2020 Fusebox Festival: Virtual Edition this weekend.

 — Jeff Khan
PSpace Artistic Director & CEO