Make Queensland Love Art Again: Opening Statement Transcript

An extended version of an opening statement given at the Pitch Drop panel 'Make Queensland Love Art Again', February 13.


Tonight we’re here to chat on the topic of ‘Making Queensland Love Art Again’. Let me get straight into it by framing the night before we all collectively send the panel on their merry way as they endeavour to solve the Queensland arts industry’s problems in just under two hours.

So. There are a few things that need to be framed before we begin, starting with, and extending outwards from in a prolonged ramble, the obvious question: do Queenslanders love art already—and if so, how much?

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Jonathan O'BrienComment
On Travel & Memory


I was on the train yesterday. I haven’t been on the train much in the month since I got back from travelling through Europe, but my bike’s been in the shop, and I’ve got places to be I guess. Plus: I get to read on the train. I was reading Briohny Doyle’s new novel, The Island Will Sink, and there’s a lot in there about memory, and about how we archive everything—outsource our memories to corporate technologies, in a way—and the book’s main conceit is that its protagonist Max can’t remember anything unless he’s looking at these futuristic recordings. And so I have this moment, reading the book—and it’s 5pm, golden hour, and I’m at Indooroopilly station—when I can’t remember a fucking thing from my Europe trip.

And the moment hangs.

And I can’t remember a thing.

And I freeze, because all these thoughts I’ve been having about, you know, being different, and about having maybe grown or changed a little over the time I spent travelling—all those thoughts felt devalued by this single moment where I couldn’t find a connection to any specific imagery or notions from a whole two months of my life. I felt sick. I started scrolling back through photos.

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Jonathan O'BrienComment
Anywhere Festival 2016: Backyard Double Bill

In terms of Anywhere Festival 2016, Backyard Double Bill is probably one of the more dramatically ambitious shows I’ve seen. For starters, it’s actually two shows, bound by a short intermission, and it’s a strange sort of pseudo-surreal pseudo-immersive theatre that doesn’t come by too often. The Backyard Collective, directed by Kristen Maloney and under two different writers (Tremayne Gordon and Maloney herself), deliver The Picnic and Saying Goodbye to Ally over ninety minutes of jam-packed and thematically-heavy theatre. The former show, in its second iteration, is unquestionably the stronger of the two parts, while Goodbye to Ally feels a bit scattered and starts in one place—a place with strong thematic ties to the first work—before ending up somewhere entirely different, obstructing the work from ever feeling entirely cohesive.

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