dark skinned lady in white shirt and gold necklace staring at camera

Kuichiang “Kush” Kuiy is a second generation Australian of South-Sudanese heritage. She is of the Nuer nation in the Upper Nile region and a proud cie-wang woman. Kush is a “doer of many things”, she is an independent producer/artist/writer/curator/community arts and avid bird watcher.

She brings her lived experience of suburban life to her producing practice, as a lifetime resident of the South-East of Melbourne- one of Australia’s most diverse, and fastest growing regions. She stages innovative experiences that showcase performing artists emerging from South-East Melbourne’s burgeoning scene.

Kush’s artistic practice is very personal, she is experimental in exploring how she can manipulate different mediums to reflect her third-culture experience, connect with her cultural heritage and the natural world.

Kush is a 2020 recipient of Creative Victoria and Theatre Networks Australia's, Victorian Independent Producers Initiative. With a keen inclination towards entrepreneurship she is the founder & Director of Nostalgic Events and co-founder of DC Workspace. Leading a young team of creatives she co-founded & is the producer of the annual Rise of South Sudan Concert & networking platform Blaxcellence. She is also a founding member of the Way Over There Collective – a group dedicated to increasing opportunities for artists in outer South-East Melbourne.

Kush has a Bachelor of Arts (Maj. International Relations and Min. Journalism) from Deakin University.

What activities will the Creators Fund support you to undertake?

Kush will research and develop culturally appropriate producing processes for Afro-diaspora performance artists. This will be done by specifically examining cultural protocols and traditions of the South-Sudanese, Nuer Nation.

Through library research, interviews with elders and traditional cultural practitioners in Victoria and abroad, Kush will deepen her connections to her cultural heritage and learn how she can express these stories through her work.

Can you talk us through what your work routine will look like with the help of a creator's fund grant? 

In the first month, I will be setting up studio space and conducting library research. I have a long list of books and reading I need to get through to get some background information. I will also be setting up interviews with elders and artists.

In the second month, I will be engaged in interviews and conversations with Nuer elders and artists with the help of a translator who’ll be interpreting for me as my Nuer language skills aren’t the strongest. We’ll be travelling to Perth to spend some time with another legendary Nuer musician and then to Brisbane to spend some time with a traditional dance group based there. My last trip will be up North to visit Traditional Owners who live on Savannah country which is the same type of ecology of where my ancestors are from. With them I’ll be exploring the cultural similarities between people and cultures of the Savannah zone.

In between all these interviews I’ll be doing some reflection and discussing my findings with some mentors at the studio. We are looking to create a framework for how we can create contemporary artwork with traditional elements whilst maintaining the integrity of our culture. Hopefully in all these conversations also lies the kernels of a new work of my own.

To wrap up my research project, I’ll be spending most days in the studio and scouring through the material I’ve gathered. I’ll be preparing a presentation to share my findings from the whole process.

Where would you like to see yourself and your career at the end of this process?

By the end of this of this process I would like to see myself producing, writing and staging experiences that are influenced by my Nuer heritage. Moreover, I’d love to see myself telling traditional stories using contemporary forms that encourage young people, like myself who didn’t grow up in South-Sudan, to learn about who our people were and are. I also hope that I develop a framework to share with other Afro-diaspora creatives so they too can go on a journey of exploration into their own cultures; bring traditional stories and cultural knowledge into their own contemporary creative practice.

Find out more about the Creators Fund program.