The South Project: the traditional and modern worlds meet

June 2004 -

What do Argentina, South Africa, Madagascar, East Timor, New Zealand and Samoa have in common? Which way is the 'South' going? The South Project, a four-year art project, wants to answer these questions by 'bringing together and celebrating the creative energies of the Southern hemisphere'. A forum early in July 2004 will sound the start of the project in Melbourne, Australia.

The South Project, financed by the Australian Council for the Arts and the Melbourne city council, is divided into three parts. South 1, 'the Gathering', is the forum that will be held in Melbourne from 1 to 4 July 2004 and that will gather together some 260 artists. 'The South Project will start as a meeting between the traditional and modern worlds', says director Kevin Murray. 'The official culture of Melbourne is Aboriginal. Wurrundjeri elders will officially open and close South 1; many of the participants are indigenous Australians. The project strives to create a space that traditional and modern cultures can cohabitate. This means that questions must be asked, such as: what place do the whites hold in 'black' countries like Australia and South African, and should we be worried about whether traditional peoples are being 'ruined' by the consumption culture?'

After the forum, South 2 will start: 'the Journey', with workshops and residencies all over the world, not only on the Southern hemisphere. Kevin Murray: ‘We are not making a literal distinction between the northern countries above the equator and the southern countries below it. In a political sense, India is also part of the South. Moreover, you can only refer to the South if you also review the North; in a sense, the South is moving over the world as a kind of shadow. Sicily could also be called a southern country, and countries like Great Britain also house population groups from the south, including south-Asians. The link between these countries is often the presence of traditional cultures that have an uncertain relationship with the modern world.'

The South Project will finish with a festival 'of events and ideas' in 2008; South 3: 'the Arrival'. Then the question of what the 'South' actually is must be answered.

Het South project wordt afgesloten met een festival 'van evenementen en ideeën' in 2008, oftewel South 3 ('the Arrival'). Daar moet de vraag beantwoord worden wat 'het Zuiden' eigenlijk is.