The Capitol acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. We respectfully acknowledge their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. We also acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

Brain Storms: Creativity and Mental Health

In any year, around 1 in 5 Australians will experience a common mental health disorder, but cultural depictions of mental health can fail to grasp the complexities of its felt experience. This panel features creatives who have used their art to explore this issue that is at once ordinary and obscure. With host Stéphanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe the panel will explore the way their recent work innovatively engages with the reality of complex mental health experiences, whether implicitly or explicitly. 
 
Discussing the mechanics of representing the lived experience of mental health challenges and creating depictions that are authentic and relatable, yet free from stereotype or reduction, this will be an expansive conversation about the ways in which art can be used to explore and better understand the nuances of mental health. 

 

Artist Biography

 

Stéphanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe is a Rwandan-British composer and multidisciplinary storyteller and broadcaster working between Narrm/Melbourne, and Rwanda. Multiple forms of synaesthesia add a neurodiverse dimension to Stephanie’s identity as a third culture individual. Stéphanie’s research-based practice explores the construction and archiving of culture through transcription into experiential narratives. Stéphanie writes and presents Passenger, a weekly show on the ABC Classic radio station. In Passenger, Stéphanie takes the audience on a journey through matching storytelling with the art music of different destinations and cultures across the world. Stéphanie has held residencies across multiple disciplines, including with Torika Bolatagici’s Community Reading Room project as Reader In Residence, and as part of the Forum of Sensory Motion’s series of travelling residencies. Stéphanie has been commissioned to work with organisations such as NGV, Liquid Architecture, Arts Centre Melbourne, Musica Viva, MONA, ArtsHouse, ArtPlay, Next Wave Festival, Seventh Gallery, Noir Darkroom and Gaffa Gallery. 

 

Daniel Regan is a UK based photographic artist exploring complex emotional experiences, focusing on the transformational impact of arts on mental health, building on his own lived experience. His work focuses on themes of wellbeing and brokers dialogue around often taboo topics. He shoots commissions, personal works, delivers socially engaged projects and provides consultancy in arts & health. Daniel is Founder and Executive Director of the Arts & Health Hub, a UK non-profit organisation supporting artists that work in the arts and health sector. His particular interest and focus is on practitioner support for artists with lived experience of mental health difficulties. Previously Daniel worked as the Director of an arts and health charity in the National Health Service in London. 

Poetic Solidarities: Claudia Rankine and Evelyn Araluen

Join two highly celebrated poets and thinkers, Claudia Rankine and Evelyn Araluen, as they hold a rigorous and collaborative live conversation that expands on their co-written essay “Poetic Solidarities” from The Big Anxiety: Taking Care of Mental Health in Time of Crisis.

This is a thrilling opportunity to witness a deeply-considered and far-reaching discussion of the potential of poetry for political resistance. Through the shared lens of their work as poets and academics, Rankine and Araluen will consider the ways Western psychiatry and conceptions of mental health can enable institutional racism, colonialism, and operate as extensions of oppressive structures like the medical and industrial prison complex.   

Claudia Rankine will join Evelyn Araluen and the audience via live cross. 

 

Artist Biography

 

Claudia Rankine is the author of five books of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; three plays including HELP, which premiered in March 2020 (The Shed, NYC), and The White Card, which premiered in February 2018 (ArtsEmerson/ American Repertory Theater) and was published by Graywolf Press in 2019; as well as numerous video collaborations. Her recent collection of essays, Just Us: An American Conversation, was published by Graywolf Press in 2020. She is also the co-editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. In 2016, Rankine co-founded The Racial Imaginary Institute (TRII). Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, United States Artists, and the National Endowment of the Arts. A former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Claudia Rankine will join the NYU Creative Writing Program in Fall 2021. She lives in New Haven, CT. 

Evelyn Araluen is a poet, researcher and co-editor of Overland Literary Journal. Her widely published criticism, fiction and poetry has been awarded the Nakata Brophy Prize for Young Indigenous Writers, the Judith Wright Poetry Prize, a Wheeler Centre Next Chapter Fellowship, and a Neilma Sidney Literary Travel Fund grant. Born and raised on Dharug country, she is a descendant of the Bundjalung Nation. Evelyn’s debut collection Dropbear won the 2022 Stella Prize.   

Leslie Jamison: Examining Empathy

Leslie Jamison is the award-winning author of essay collections The Empathy Exams and Make it Scream, Make it Burn as well as the memoir The Recovering, which challenged the glorification of addiction within the creative process. Whatever her subject matter, Jamison is known for emphasising feeling in her writing, searching for the connections that will better facilitate a shared understanding of empathy.  

At this event, Jamison joins host Rebecca Harkins-Cross via live-cross to unpack the themes of her work within the broader context of mental health. She’ll explore the uncertainty of connection, the link between physical and mental health, the challenges of living with addiction and the journey towards recovery.   

At this not-to-be missed conversation, the preeminent contemporary writer on empathy will discuss her approach to writing about creativity and mental health.  

 

Artist Biography

 

Leslie Jamison was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Los Angeles. She has worked as a baker, an office temp, an innkeeper, a tutor, and a medical actor. A graduate of Harvard College and the Iowa’s Workshop, she is the author of the essay collection The Empathy Exams, a New York Times bestseller, and the novel The Gin Closet, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, and the Oxford American, among others, and she is a columnist for the New York Times Book Review. She teaches at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Rebecca Harkins-Cross is a writer and cultural critic from Naarm/Melbourne. Her work has been published widely in journals and periodicals across Australia and the world. Rebecca is currently a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University’s Writing Program in New York City and finalising her PhD in Creative Writing at Monash University. Past roles include theatre critic at The Age, film editor at The Big Issue and long-running film columnist at The Lifted Brow. Her book The Headless Woman will be out soon via Fireflies Press.

Honor Eastly: No Feeling is Final

Usually when we talk about suicide we say those four magic words: “just ask for help”. But Honor Eastly knows it’s not that simple. She’s been there and back, and now has years of phone recordings and diary entries, from the inside. 

Part performance, part personal essay, this special event is a deeply intimate and unprecedented insight into the lived experience of suicidality, and the complexity of navigating the mental health system in Australia, brought to life at The Capitol with video and projection visuals 

This is a show for anyone who’s ever wondered if life is worth living. For anyone who loves someone who has. And especially for anyone who’s felt at war with a system meant to help them. At times heartbreaking, and desperate – but also darkly funny, and charming, No Feeling Is Final is a story of difference, identity, and why we should stay alive. 

Everything Feels Like the End of the World

How do we save the world? Is the concept of hope in the face of crisis radical or naïve? Are billionaires like Mike Cannon Brookes changing the world for the better or is it just the echo of the ‘technology not taxes’ war cry?

Humans organise and process information in terms of story, which makes short stories about climate change a powerful tool to change hearts and minds. As we try to preserve our hope, maybe we find answers by slashing word counts while we slash carbon emissions.

Authors Alice Bishop, Else Fitzgerald and Yumna Kassab share how they eke out the answers with host Astrid Edwards asking the questions.

The Panel

Alice Bishop was Sydney Morning Herald / The Age’s Best Young Australian Novelist for 2020. Her book A Constant Hum is out with Text Publishing. A collection of short fiction about Black Saturday’s aftermath, A Constant Hum was shortlisted for the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction and in the Queensland Literary Awards for short fiction, and has featured in the New York Times. Find her @BishopAlice. Alice was a participant in the RMIT Culture McCraith House Creative Residency Program.

Else Fitzgerald is a writer based on the Mornington Peninsula. Her writing has appeared in various publications including Australian Book Review, Meanjin, The Guardian and Award Winning Australian Writing. Else won the 2019 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers. Her debut collection of short stories, Everything Feels like the End of the World, was published in August 2022 by Allen&Unwin

Yumna Kassab is a writer from Western Sydney. She studied medical science and neuroscience at university. Her first book of short stories, The House of Youssef, has been listed for prizes including the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, Queensland Literary Award, NSW Premier’s Literary Award and The Stella Prize.

Astrid Edwards is an interviewer, podcaster and advocate. She is a bibliophile and hosts two bookish podcasts – The Garret: Writers on Writing and Anonymous Was A Woman. She is the former Chair of Melbourne Writers Festival and teaches into RMIT’s Associate Degree of Professional Writing and Editing.

Agent Bodies — Body Melt

On June 15, ponder the permeability of bodies with Agent Bodies curators, Mikala Dwyer and Drew Pettifer, for a screening of Philip Brophy’s 1993 “gloriously gruesome, maddeningly moist, furiously filthy, and despicably disgusting” Australian satirical horror, Body Melt.

Reflecting on the varying states of bodily integrity as explored in RMIT Gallery’s current exhibition Agent Bodies, Dwyer and Pettifer will preface the screening with an introduction and presentations of two exclusive artwork screenings by RMIT PhD candidates Mig Dann and Daniel R. Marks.

 

Jonathan Franzen

The author of six acclaimed novels including The Corrections, Freedom and Purity, his latest release Crossroads was selected as the Guardian UK Best Fiction Book of 2021 and an Independent Book of the Year, and proves him, once again, to be a master of the modern family saga.

Presented in partnership with the Wheeler Centre, this event will take place at The Capitol, alongside Astrid Edwards, host of The Garret: Writers on Writing podcast, for a conversation about Crossroads, his writing life and the state of the modern novel. Astrid also teaches in the Associate Degree of Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT University.

RMIT Culture Talks: What Does Waste Mean to You?

This interactive panel will explore how circular economy practices could re-imagine what waste is and what we can do with it. Focusing on high-impact areas in our city (such as fashion and textiles), the discussion will shed light on what is happening in circular economies in Victoria and beyond. You will hear from a range of voices, including academics, sustainability and circular economy experts, and students, and watch a screening of short documentaries produced by RMIT students exploring waste, circular economy research and teaching at RMIT. Presented by the Circular Economy Hub@RMIT, IC3P (Integrated Circular Economy, Climate Resilience and Clean Energy Platform) and the Victorian Circulator Activator. 

With Sean Trewick, Donna Portis, Kate Dundas, Zandy Powell, Rachel Roberts and Julia English 

This event is part of the RMIT Culture Talks: a four-part series designed to translate knowledge and examine issues affecting the community in an engaging and accessible way. Each session will include RMIT academics as speakers alongside collaborators, industry representatives and community members, showcasing creative, innovative ideas and research. 

This event is part of Melbourne Knowledge Week, 9 – 15 May 2022, proudly presented by the City of Melbourne.

RMIT Culture Talks: A Space to Shape Place

An interactive forum to celebrate the launch of RMIT PlaceLab, new urban initiative connecting communities, shaping place, and taking a radically different approach to doing research.

The future is local. Now is the time to rethink how we live, and the solutions needed to support a more liveable, adaptive, and inclusive future. RMIT is taking a fresh approach to doing research, one that’s more collaborative and informed by the people who know their neighbourhoods best: that’s you.

In this open forum, join the conversation, alongside the RMIT PlaceLab team, learn about this exciting new initiative, and explore how RMIT PlaceLab aims to Engage, Research & Transform Melbourne’s most vital urban opportunities.

This event is part of the RMIT Culture Talks: a four-part series designed to translate knowledge and examine issues affecting the community in an accessible and engaging way. Each session will include RMIT academics as speakers alongside collaborators, industry representatives and community members, showcasing creative, innovative ideas and research.

This event is part of Melbourne Knowledge Week, 9 – 15 May 2022, proudly presented by the City of Melbourne.

RMIT Culture Talks: Melbourne’s Future as a Digital City

This thought-provoking discussion will examine how current technology trends – such as working from home – are increasingly moving our economic and social activity online. You will hear from RMIT academics and learn insights from several areas of research from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S): a cross-disciplinary, national research centre, which aims to create the knowledge and strategies necessary for responsible, ethical and inclusive automated decision-making.  

With Professor Jason Potts, Associate Professor Chris Berg, Dr Alexia Maddox, Dr Tharuka Rupasinghe. 

This event is part of the RMIT Culture Talks: a four-part series designed to translate knowledge and examine issues affecting the community in an engaging and accessible way. Each session will include RMIT academics as speakers alongside collaborators, industry representatives and community members, showcasing creative, innovative ideas and research.  

Presented in partnership with ADM+S Centre, and is part of Melbourne Knowledge Week, 9 – 15 May 2022, proudly presented by the City of Melbourne.

RMIT Culture Talks: Barely Gettin’ By – Radical Hope

Be part of the audience for a live recording of the podcast Barely Getting’ By, hosted by Emma Shortis and featuring special guests.

Forming part of Barely Getting’ By’s fourth season, ‘Up in Flames’, this event will examine climate policy as a global modern imperative. The panel will discuss the necessity of imagining different futures, local activism, action-based research, the role of governments and how radical hope might help us envisage and enact the path out of a climate change ravaged future.    

Hosted by GUSS researcher Emma Shortis, with Jeff Sparrow, James Blackwell and Mittul Vahanvati. 

This event is part of the RMIT Culture Talks: a four-part series designed to translate knowledge and examine issues affecting the community in an engaging and accessible way. Each session will include RMIT academics as speakers alongside collaborators, industry representatives and community members, showcasing creative, innovative ideas and research. 

These events are part of Melbourne Knowledge Week, 9 – 15 May 2022, proudly presented by the City of Melbourne.

Mona Chalabi: Taking the Numb out of Numbers

While analysing statistics for the United Nations, Mona saw how vital data was and how easily people with specific agendas could manipulate it. So, she set out to make data more transparent and accessible for all.  

Through her illustrations, animations, and articles for publications like The Guardian, FiveThirtyEight and The New York Times, Mona explores data sets on topics like affirmative action, voting trends, race and politics, alongside more offbeat issues like “how many Americans eat pizza for breakfast”. In this keynote talk hosted by broadcaster, journalist and podcast host, Elizabeth Kulas, Mona will walk the audience step-by-step through her process for creating data visualisations using simple language, beautiful images, and a decent dose of humour.   

 Co-presented by Melbourne Knowledge Week, RMIT Culture and The Wheeler Centre, and is part of Melbourne Knowledge Week, 9 – 15 May 2022, proudly presented by the City of Melbourne.