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Project status: Completed

This research project will critically examine and creatively explore how contemporary visual art practices contribute to the politics of aesthetics as outlined by the philosopher and theorist Jacques Ranciere.

Ranciere's proposes that the complex relations between politics and aesthetics established since modernity have resulted in what he terms the 'Aesthetic Regime of Art'. This involves a new way of considering art as an emancipatory process, one that creates a new set of complications and potential contradictions for understanding the relationships between politics and art.

The project will explore Ranciere's theoretical claims through a critical examination of his writing, a sustained investigation of art practices that actively engage with the political and my own practice-based research. Through this investigation the project aims to clearly identify how artists work across differing discursive regimes, using creative strategies ranging from humour to poetics to initiate new and unexpected ways for understanding art and its relation to the political, to non-art, and most importantly the politics of the everyday.

Read details

  • Australian Research Council
  • National AIDS Council of Papua New Guinea
  • Australian Research Council: 2009-11 $AUD 260,000
  • National AIDS Council of Papua New Guinea: 2009-2011 $AUD 100,000
  • University of Goroka
  • Barrick Gold (through Porgera Joint Venture)
  • Marie Stopes International
Research leader
Research team
QUT External collaborators
  • Professor Don Stewart - Faculty of Health, Griffith University
  • Martin Tonney - Life Drama Administrative Assistant, based at University of Papua New Guinea
  • Jane Awi - PhD candidate, University of Goroka
Organisational unit
Lead unit Faculty of Creative Industries
Start date
1 January 2008


Project description

In the first year of this research project the principles of Life Drama have been developed through a pilot project in Tari, Southern Highlands of PNG. Train the trainer workshops have been held in June and July with 20 participants who are community leaders. Draft Participant Handbooks, presenting training in primarily pictorial form, proved very popular and assisted trainers to implement the program with their own communities. Participants also appreciated receiving certificates acknowledging their participation in the training.

While there are multiple diversities within the group (in terms of gender, age, employment, education level, socioeconomic status, HIV status, language, literacy, religion, and tribal affiliation, to name a few), there is a growing sense of identification with the group, and a willingness to work collaboratively to achieve the goals of Life Drama in the Tari community.  A visit to evaluate the success and impact of the training will be conducted in Tari in November.

An in-country research assistant has been employed and supported with office space provided by the University of Papua New Guinea.  For Life Drama to be most successful it needs to be informed by two genres of performance in PNG. These are Folk Operas and Village plays. In January/February 2010 a Research Laboratory will be held in Madang with experts in these two genres with the intention of sharing current understandings across three groups of practitioners (Folk Operas, Village plays and Life Drama) to test possibilities for trans-forming forms and conventions across genres.

Creative Industries linkage

This project will provide original research in both creative practice and critical thinking around the relationships between contemporary art and politics. It will produce new and original artworks that allow new understandings for audiences on how art can actively engage in the political processes of the everyday Creativity - expressed in my own practice - allows an exploration of theoretical concepts that can be articulated in a cultural product. Research offers a scaffold from which creativity emerges. 

Publications and output

The project will involve producing a significant body of artworks that address the main concerns of the research and an exegetical component that contextualises the theoretical research and creative practice. I will be participating in a number of ongoing exhibitions both nationally and internationally over the course of the project, present papers on the findings, and the final exhibition of artworks will be at both QUT Art Museum and the Block in the Creative Industries Precinct at QUT.