UNSW Art & Design graduate Keg de Souza creates environments and experiences that challenge people and make them think. She’s an artist concerned with issues of homelessness, community, global warming, and being marginalised. Like the wide range of micro and macro subjects she addresses, she uses multiple strategies to impart her messages and to draw audience participation. Those familiar with Keg’s work will know that video, performance, installation, hand-bound books, architecture and even inflatable objects all have a place.
In some ways Keg’s an artist and activist rolled into one. Take for example her Redfern School of Displacement project that is currently part of the 20th Biennale of Sydney. It’s a series of meetings and open-ended discussions held within an enormous patchwork tent (of Keg’s creation) installed at 16 Vine Street in Redfern. She has set it up as type of drop-in centre with an educational undercurrent. Linked to the unfolding dialogues are a series of neighbourhood tours.
Keg says, “It’s more meaningful to learn about a place whilst being in the place." So, given she’s addressing themes of colonisation and displacement of Indigenous residents due to gentrification in the Redfern area, it’s fitting that one has be on the ground in Redfern to get involved.
Participants in the School’s ‘curriculum’ include Nathan Moran from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council; Ross Smith, an activist and Redfern local; and Shane McGrath, a tenancy activist from the Housing for the Aged Action Group.
The tours, titled Tours of Beauty, are an opportunity to travel on bus and bike through Redfern, meeting with people from the Indigenous Women’s Centre, the Aboriginal Housing Company, REDWatch activist group, as well as local architects and designers. Lasting between 4-5 hours, participants can expect first-hand access to complex ideas and places. (April 9, 23, May 14, 1-5pm, bookings essential)
In keeping with her growing artistic profile and reputation, Keg has also recently been selected to feature in the prestigious, and just-launched, 2016 Setouchi Triennale. This unique, year-long event is a celebration art and culture curated across 12 remote islands in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan. All visitors to the Triennale, predicted this year to be well over 300,000, travel by boat or plane to each venue.
Keg’s specially commissioned work will be presented on the island of Teshima, known for its terraced paddy fields and bountiful harvests. She’s taken up the Island’s of 14,000 years agricultural history in the theme of her site-specific art.
Abundance: Fruit of the Sea / Abundance: Bounty of the Mountains explores, Keg says, “food culture through local economies, traditional cultivation and preservation techniques adapted for a contemporary context”. Abundance: Fruit of the Sea is a house rendered from seaweed, while Abundance: Bounty of the Mountains includes recipes attached to pieces of local fruit.
Anyone interested in seeing and experiencing Abundance has time to organise the trip. Keg’s art is synchronised with the local harvest season and will go on display in the Northern hemisphere’s summer and autumn, July 18 – November 6, 2016.