Sarah Aiken is a Melbourne based dancer, teacher and choreographer from Bellingen NSW.
Sarah’s work investigates assemblage, authorship, scale and the self, looking at the roles of audience, performer, subject and object and connecting tangibly with audiences, to consider performance as a site for empathy & exchange. Sarah is co-director of Deep Soulful Sweats, working with Rebecca Jensen to create work that engages rigorously with participation, waste and a reckless formalism that recycles content to consider materiality and how we come together.
Sarah has presented work nationally and internationally including Dance Massive, Arts Centre Melbourne, Castlemaine State Festival, Dancehouse (Housemate Resident XIV), The Substation/LGI, Keir Choreographic Awards (finalist 2014 & 2016), VCA, Brisbane Festival, PICA, Ian Potter Museum, Immigration Museum, Les Plateaux de la Briqueterie (Paris) and Dancemakers Toronto.
As well as performing and collaborating across artforms, she maintains a committed teaching practice sharing concepts and practices of contemporary dance in professional and public classes and workshops. Sarah is an Australia Council artist in resident at HIAP, Helsinki and is an active contributor to the dance sector across Australia, organising with, and advocating for, a broad community of dance artists, movers and makers.
What activities will the Creators Fund support you to undertake?
Creators fund will support me in ongoing research to develop my video practice where it intersects with, and departs from, my live performance and embodied practices. This research will support projects for live performance and make space for new works for screen and gallery contexts.
The explorations will create new video works building conglomerate forms- collaged bodies wedding technology and corporality- considering the body as an assemblage, as a landscape for microscopic life, as singular, as one of many, as a multitude, as a tool for change, both destructive and generative, and as temporary - tracing imagined histories of our matter before and after our ownership of it. It imagines surreal bodies contaminated by each cells previous encounters, revealing indeterminate and multidirectional histories.
It will also allow me the time to invest in developing my technical skills, accessing the incredible wealth of knowledge in the arts community and dedicating time to learning, to create new possibilities for works for the stage and the gallery.
Can you talk us through what your work routine will look like with the help of a creator's fund grant?
Like many artists, I spend a huge amount of time working in unrelated, low skill jobs that are flexible enough to support my creative practice financially and ensure I can be available for projects that must fit around the structures of venues, funders and collaborators. The Creators Fund will allow me to break from this rhythm and work more consistently on my creative practice and restore a healthier balance to my life and plan for long term sustainability as an artist.
I am first and foremost a dancer, movement informs all of my work and will necessarily be threaded through a more sedentary digital practice. I don’t know that a routine will ever be achievable working in and between projects and contracts but the fund will allow a mix of studio time and experimentation with editing and video processes, and a balance of working alone and with collaborators who I can learn from and share with.
Where would you like to see yourself and your career at the end of this process?
I’m hoping to show my work across more platforms and in different contexts, as well as continuing to incorporate video into my live performance works with increased control and possibility. I hope that the skills developed will make me a better collaborator, more able to support the work of my peers and work across a broader platform.
New contexts for showing work in a time where live performance is constantly interrupted is vital for me to keep working and creating. I have always worked with video in my live works and I hope that with the time to develop some technical skill, I can create new works with more control and more options, bringing it up to a quality where I can share it in gallery and installation settings as well as online and on stage.
At the end of this process, I hope to see the possibility of continuing in the arts, of surviving the precarity, and the emotional and financial toll of life as an artist in the current context, and sharing this security and abundance with my arts community.