Sydney WorldPride 2023 announces diverse curatorial associates

The six curatorial associates are eager to showcase their work for everyone to enjoy at WorldPride 2023. Clockwise from top left: Michael Kennedy, Dennis Golding, Harriet Gillies, Jennifer Greer Holmes, Bhenji Ra, Felicity Nicol. Photo: supplied.

By TILEAH DOBSON          

As Sydney gears up for this year’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, plans are already in the works for next year. Not only will Mardi Gras possibly return to Oxford Street, but for the first time ever, WorldPride will be held in Sydney.

This will be the first time WorldPride is held in Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and even the Southern Hemisphere. Set to be the biggest celebration in NSW since the Sydney 2000 Olympics, organisers are thrilled to announce next year’s theme: Gather, Dream, Amplify.

WorldPride 2023 is set to coincide with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, with the latter joining the programs, which are set to include Fair Day, Parade, Party, Laneway and more. Other plans for the program include an opening and closing ceremony, First Nations gala concert, a human rights conference and a closing party at Bondi Beach.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge will also be included in the festivities, with over 50,000 participants planned for Australia’s largest pride march. The creative directors behind the festival, Daniel Clarke and Ben Graetz, are excited for Sydney to experience WorldPride and its theme.

“{Gather, Dream, Amplify} was developed with our extraordinary LGBTIQ+ community and represents our commitment to global equality and inclusion. It is a call to action,” Clarke said.

“We want people to gather here, on the lands of the oldest surviving culture on the planet, to listen deeply. We want people to dream of the future they want and work together to make those dreams a reality. We want to ensure that new voices and perspectives are amplified,” Graetz said.

With First Nations culture front and centre at WorldPride 2023, the new logo and artwork was directed by First Nations artist Jessica Johnson, also known as Nungala Creative.

WorldPride 2023 promises to showcase First Nation art and culture during the festival. Video: Sydney WorldPride 2023/YouTube.

“Creation of the new logo and artworks for Sydney WorldPride was inspired by my belonging to a big, multigenerational queer First Nations community and our extended family. We embody intersectionality and I wanted the design to express that through the vibrancy, colours and textures,” Johnson said.

“Each and every aspect reflects a sense of movement like light and shadows cast through nature, the trees and water. The tactile, hands-on, textural aesthetic is a nod to the nostalgic tools of our predecessors and an era of people power and protest definitive in our existence today. The electric colour palette draws from the Rainbow Eucalyptus tree and all the wondrous magic our country has on offer.”

Clarke promises that Sydney WorldPride 2023 will be a huge festival.

“All of the signature events are currently on our website and on top of this, there will be an arts and culture program that stretches across Greater Sydney,” Clarke said

“There will also be a sports program and one of the most significant events planned is a human rights conference. The whole Sydney WorldPride team is committed to delivering a once in a lifetime event for local, national and international visitors.”

Clarke and Graetz won’t be alone in this endeavour as they are joined by six curatorial associates who’ll bring an array of art forms to WorldPride 2023: Bhenji Ra, Dennis Golding, Jennifer Greer Holmes, Felicity Nicol, Harriet Gillies and Michael Louis Kennedy. Their collective creative experiences span youth arts, literature, music, visual arts, dance, digital arts, contemporary performance and house-ballroom culture.

A number of the curatorial associates spoke with the Sentinel, expressing their excitement for WorldPride and their parts in it.

Bhenji Ra

A trailblazer in the Australian ballroom community, she is a multifaced artist and community leader who combines dance, choreography, video and event making. Director of the award-winning Sissy Ball from 2018-2020, collaboration is at the core of her work.

Dennis Golding

A Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay artist, Sydney born and raised Golding works with a wide range of mixed media including painting, video, photography and installation. Having grown up in an Aboriginal community in Redfern, Golding’s artistic work and identity was shaped by his mother and grandmother’s depictions of Australian native plants and animals, cultural motifs and human figures.

Dennis Golding worked as an administrative trainee at Nura Gili Indigenous Programs UNSW. Photo: supplied.

Jennifer Greer Holmes

Homes is a producer of live performance and video, an artist and DJ who has curated for queer clubs nights, festival bars and art parties since 2013. As a producer, she works with Branch Nebula (Sydney) and Vitalstatistix (Adelaide) and in 2020, co-founded Replay Creative (Adelaide) after keeping up an independent videography and arts documentation practice for over a decade.

Harriet Gillies

An award-winning artist, Gillies has worked across multiple performance modes such as interactive projects like Pony Express’ Ecosexual Bathhouse, PVI Collective’s Blackmarket and Hermann Nitsch 150 Actions. Her performances have been showcased in Australia, as well as North America and New Zealand.

Gillies expressed her love for the community and excitement to share her work at the festival.

“I’m excited to help facilitate some of our most exciting queer artists and thinkers to share amazing experiences and ideas with audiences in Sydney and beyond,” she said.

Felicity Nicol

A proud queer and disabled artist from Sydney’s Inner West, Nicol has worked with prominent artists from around the world, including Ontroerend Goed (Belgium), Punchdrunk and Gecko Physical Theatre (UK), Illutron (Denmark) and Mammalian Diving Reflex (Canada). Using queer theory, feminism and humour, Nicol aims to halt the assumptions of people and shift the lens to those who need it the most.

“I have experience and passion for a range of artistic forms. I am particularly excited about finding ways to bring our young queerbos and rainbow elders into every facet of the festival,” Nicol told the Sentinel.

“I want them seen, heard and celebrated. And I definitely want to highlight our queer deaf and/or disabled artists. Hopefully, I’ll also bring some humour, joy, feminism and of course, pride.”

An award-winning artist, Nicol has been creating work for young queer folks, as well as with them for almost a decade. Photo: supplied.

Michael Louis Kennedy

A playwright, writer and arts professional based in Sydney, Kennedy has had his writing featured in Overland, Voiceworks, The Brag, Going Down Swinging, Transportation Press, Baby Teeth, The Sydney Morning Herald and more.

“I spent the past few years working as one of the Co-Directors of the National Young Writers’ Festival and have been absolutely floored by the sheer magnetism and variety of writers in Australia,” Kennedy said.

“I am hoping to expand on that experience by helping facilitate a literary program blending emerging local writers with more established local and international voices. I want to engender a collaborative space for writers and creatives from all intersections of the queer community, as well as writers of various forms, whether it be filmmakers, poets, comedians, novelists and more.”

The Sydney WorldPride Festival will run from 17 February to 5 March 5, 2023. For more information, visit https://sydneyworldpride.com/.

Tileah Dobson is the news and LGBTQI+ editor of the Sydney Sentinel.

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