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Artist Spotlight: Emily Bennett

April 10, 2016

Meet Emily Bennett, the brains behind the Dangerous Territory commission, So Fresh.

Exploring the dynamics of strangers meeting in night club bathrooms, So Fresh is a site specific installation taking place in the bathrooms of the You Are Here hub space (‘The Hub’, in the old North Bar)

We caught up with Emily to find out more:
 

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Hi Emily! Tell us a bit about yourself and your practice:

Hey! I studied at the Canberra School of Music but I’ve always been a bit of a mixed bag. I took composition classes with Jim Cotter whilst also sitting in on Niven Stines’s recording classes. I’m a vocalist by tradebut in the last few years I’ve distilled art making down to improvising voice work (sometimes processed, sometimes not) and found sounds (sometimes synthesised, sometimes not). The projects vary so much but more recently I’ve been working towards marrying sound design work with live performance. So Fresh is totally an experiment!

 

What inspired you to create So Fresh?

I heard on the Canberra rumour mill that the YouAre Here HQ was to be set up in the old nightclub precinct this year. Although I originally came to Canberra as a not-straight-out-of-school student to engage in a second undergraduate degree, this precinct and the Canberra nightlife in general sparked an unexpected party renaissance. So Fresh is my homage to the nights clubbing and fresh- or not-so-fresh faces.

 

Do you go out to nightclubs much anymore?

Not as much as I’d like! I do miss dancing. I get pretty involved in my studio most Saturday nights these days, but when I am out, the insane volume level depletes me very quickly! Plus, I miss being able to go out to in Canberra alone with the likely chance of bumping into someone you know. Melbourne dwellers book social events weeks in advance!

 

So Fresh is an installation made up of multiple components, can you tell us a little about it?

I’m a musician and sound artist, but there’s always been this ridiculous fantasy to DJ. So why not in a toilet? I trawled Gumtree for samplers, but soon realised how quickly they were being snapped up down here, so the SU700 Yamaha sampler was the first to come up where I jumped in and said I’d buy it before really knowing what I was getting myself into. We’ve been together for three months and the Yamaha really dominates the relationship – from how many and how big the samples are but also the live processing it’s capable of. It takes me back to cargo pants-wearing, spiky hair and tank top days gone by.

 

What can audiences expect from the work?

Hopefully no expectations! Come needing to use the facility and follow your ears. It’s definitely not a start to finish show.

 

So Fresh is part of YAH’s Dangerous Territory stream of commissioned events, what’s your experience of presenting work in non-traditional spaces?

My first degree in Theatre/Media at Bathurst was where we started out from the get go making theatre in non-traditional spaces. I’ve never really looked back since and always gravitated towards projects that challenge what art, and in a broader sense, the status quo, should be. We are all artistic participants and it should not just be accessible for those with privilege.

 

What’s been your best memory of being in a night-club bathroom?

One of my closest friends and I have practically built our relationship over the decade sharing the same toilet cubicles. When I look back, it’s like trying to remember what happened the night before. Without a doubt incredible but on the whole hazy on the details.

 

At least for women, there seems to be a strong theme of complete strangers bonding in nightclub toilets – they’re kind of like a ‘safe space’ in an often sleazy environment. Have you heard similar experiences from men too?

This is funny, because all my male friends to whom I’ve spoken to say that the male restrooms are a very solitary experience. I think it’s pretty interesting how differently people have reacted to the Safe Schools guidelines in relation to toilets and I wouldn’t be surprised if the ‘gender’ stereotypes of toilets gradually shift over time.
 

Tell us a fun fact – about anything! The Yamaha sampler I’m playing on is a fresh-faced 18 year old. But unlike most 18 year olds, it’s completely tech-stupid and its internal memory takes a grand total of 4 MB with the support of floppy disks. PARTAY!

 

What YAH 2016 events are you most looking forward to seeing?

Oooo, so many. I hope to catch as much as possible and walk in not knowing too much. But Cissi Tsang in timeofhex looks unreal.