Aphids is thrilled to announce a new direction for the company, with the appointment of three leading Melbourne-based artists – Eugenia Lim, Mish Grigor and Lara Thoms (pictured) – who will form a new co-directorship for Aphids. Driven by a feminist methodology in which collaboration, deep listening and radical leadership is key, the trio of artists will lead the company into its third iteration from 2019.
This announcement sees the artists’ individual practices evolve with the support, history and vision of a 25-year-old company. As a co-directorship, Aphids will privilege diversity as a guiding principle of its remit, bringing over 10 years of collective experience across experimental theatre, live art, performance and visual art. In 2019 and beyond, Aphids will make and present art that is provocative, loud, ambitious, urgent and formally promiscuous.
“We want to be active in shaping an artistic and cultural landscape that gives space to multiple voices – a sense of welcome, dialogue, criticality, experimentation and support for diverse artists and audiences,” said Lim, Grigor and Thoms.
The first two projects for the new team are Exit Strategies, a solo performance work looking at political and personal ways to escape; and the development of a new collaborative performance work Easy Riders, exploring the nature of work in the digital, gig economy age.
Mish Grigor is currently performing Ich Nibber Dibber at Malthouse Theatre as part of performance trio POST, Lara Thoms is preparing to tour her award-winning performance work We All Know What’s Happening to New South Wales and Eugenia Lim is preparing to exhibit as part of the major contemporary art survey The National. Active in various organisations and as solo artists, the trio will work collaboratively, supporting each upcoming project as it unfolds – as lead artists, producers, dramaturgs, curators, designers and video artists.
Current Aphids artistic director Willoh S. Weiland has stepped down after seven significant years. Weiland is moving on to a creative associate position at Mona Foma in Hobart, Tasmania and will continue her work as an honorary fellow at the Microsoft Research Centre for Social User Interface at the University of Melbourne.
“In Aphids’ 25-year history of making experimental projects, it has consistently supported the vision of artists as visionaries, leaders and producers. The third iteration of the directorship takes this to a new level, responding to the urgent need for women’s leadership to be prioritised,” said Weiland.
Aphids is an artist-led organisation formed in 1994 by artistic director and composer David Young, writer and musician Cynthia Troup, visual artist Sarah Pirrie and fashion designer Kath Banger. In 2010, Weiland joined the company as artistic director, putting her own unique mark on the company ethos with an experimental and innovative program fusing music, performance and new technologies.
Aphids projects in 2018 include sold out seasons of Crawl Me Blood at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens and Royal Melbourne Botanical Gardens, in association with the Melbourne Writers Festival, Howl at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts and Flyway at the Theatre Garonne, in association with Printemps de Septembre, France.
Eugenia Lim works across video, performance and installation to explore nationalism and stereotypes with a critical but humorous eye. Lim invents personas to explore alienation and belonging in a globalised world, activating public and private space. She is interested in territory on a local and geopolitical level and the uneven distribution of power and capital. From sand, ceramics and shipping containers through to ‘othering architecture’ with her body and lens, Lim’s is the agile practice of a shapeshifter, who adapts, expands and subverts notions of identity and race.
Her work has been exhibited, screened and performed at the TATE Modern, Dark MOFO, ACCA, Melbourne Festival, Next Wave, GOMA, ACMI, Asia TOPA, Firstdraft, Artereal Gallery, FACT Liverpool and EXiS Seoul. She has been artist-in-residence with the Experimental Television Centre NY, Bundanon Trust, 4A Beijing Studio and the Robin Boyd Foundation. Lim co-founded Channels Festival and was founding editor of Assemble Papers. In 2018-20, she is a Gertrude Contemporary studio artist. In 2019, Lim will exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art as part of The National 2019: New Australian Art. Her work is held in public and private collections internationally.
The work of Mish Grigor is situated in the performing arts field as a maker, writer and performer. An artist from Australia, she has been based in Melbourne since 2017. She presents her works internationally and continues to develop projects with other artists, both as a collaborator and as a performer.
She is co-director of POST, formed in 2003, a company who work between popular entertainment and experimental art practices. Their most recent work ‘Ich Nibber Dibber’ was a Sydney Festival/Campbelltown Arts Centre commission, and in 2018 will be performed at Sydney Opera House and Malthouse Theatre Melbourne. Previously, ‘Oedipus Schmoedipus’, was a joint commission from Belvoir St Theatre and Sydney Festival, supported by Performance Space, Artshouse and Bundanon. This work toured regionally across Australia in 2018 and will soon be produced in Cantonese for The Black Box Festival, Hong Kong.
Mish was awarded an Australia Council Experimental Arts Residency to travel to EMPAC in New York in 2017. As a curator, Mish has spent many years at the centre of Sydney’s underground arts scenes. In 2017 she curated ‘Contemporary Contemporary Contemporary’, a season of responsive works across dance, film, and performance; supported by City of Sydney Council. Mish was one of the co-directors of the Quarterbred ARI, and was co-director of Imperial Panda and Tiny Stadiums.
Lara Thoms is a Melbourne based artist working across social engaged, site-specific and participatory fields. From 2014-2016 Lara received a Creative Australia Fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts to explore these fields. Lara was also recently shortlisted for the Victorian Creative State commissions to artistically reimagine the death industry.
As an artistic associate of both Aphids and Field Theory, Lara has recently worked on ICON- a large -scale public art project utilising the new Federation Square Screen, and is soon to premiere The Director, a performance in collaboration with a funeral director at ArtsHouse. All of her projects sit within the common theme of reconsidering social hierarchies, highlighting the unexpected and being politically responsive to site. Other recent work includes Before The Siren (2017), a large-scale public artwork exploring how women gather socially, politically and recreationally across generations for Perth International Arts Festival; 9000 Minutes (2016) a live broadcast by Field Theory from Queen Victoria Markets as part of the inaugural Public Art Melbourne Biennale Lab, Lara’s solo and collaborative projects include work shown with Liquid Architecture, Gertrude Glasshouse, Next Wave, Substation, Melbourne Art Fair and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). As an artistic associate with Aphids, Lara’s inter-disciplinary collaborative projects have been presented at PICA, Brisbane Powerhouse, Dromana Drive In, Malthouse Theatre, Artshouse and Performance Space.