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Improvisation and Innovation: A Critical Dialogue on Collaborative Filmmaking in Accra (Ghana) and Gapuwiyak (Australia)

Steven Feld Filming in Ghana

Improvisation and Innovation: A Critical Dialogue on Collaborative Filmmaking in Accra (Ghana) and Gapuwiyak (Australia)

Event dates

Monday, 11 May, 2015

Event times

Filmmakers Steven Feld and Jennifer Deger meet in conversation to discuss the ways in which their respective collaborative screen media projects in African and Australian communities have produced a range of unexpected outcomes that reflect unique post-colonial histories and cultures of music and art-making, storytelling and research engagements and articulate contemporary representational possibilities, aesthetic potentials and political urgencies. The discussion, featuring film clips by both Feld and Deger will be moderated by Lisa Stefanoff, ARC Research Fellow at National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA), UNSW Art & Design.
This event is co-presented by the School of the Arts and Media (SAM), UNSW Arts and Social Sciences, and the National Institute for Experiment Arts (NIEA), UNSW Art & Design.
FREE ENTRY, RSVP required. Please send RSVP to by 8 May.

Steven Feld is an anthropologist, filmmaker, musician, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology Emeritus at the University of New Mexico and currently the inaugural UNSW Roger Covell Fellow. After studies in music, film and photography, he received the Ph.D in Anthropological Linguistics at Indiana University in 1979. From 1976, he began a research project in the Bosavi rainforest of Papua New Guinea. Results include the Monograph Sound and Sentiment (republished 2012 in a 3rd and 30th anniversary edition), a Bosavi-English-Tok Pisin Dictionary, and essays, some published in his co-edited books Music Grooves and Senses of Place. From this work, he also produced audio projects including Voices of the Rainforest. Key theoretical themes developed in this work are the anthropology of sound and voice; acoustemology, particularly regarding eco-cosmology as relational ontology; emotive sensuality; and experimental, dialogic writing, recording and filmmaking. Work after 2000 has concentrated on related themes in the study of bells in Europe, Japan, Ghana and Togo, published in CDs, DVDs, and books like The Time of Bells, Skyros Carnival, and Santi, Animali, e Suoni. His most recent project concerns jazz in West Africa, published in the ten CD, four DVD and book set Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra. Feld's work has been supported and honoured by MacArthur  and Guggenheim fellowships as well as book and film prizes.  

Jennifer Deger is an anthropologist, filmmaker and curator, currently an ARC Future Fellow at the Cairns Institute, James Cook University. Her practice-led research explores digital media, social creativity and experimental museology with a collaborative methodology that works the intersections of ethnography, art and Yolngu ritual. A founding member of Miyarrka Media, a collective of Aboriginal and non-indigenous artists and filmmakers based in the community of Gapuwiyak in northeast Arnhem Land, Deger co-directed and produced the award winning documentary, Manapanmirr, in Christmas Spirit (2012) with Paul Gurrumuruwuy, David Mackenzie and Fiona Yangathu and, more recently, Ringtone (2014) which premiered at the Margaret Mead Film Festival with the installation Gapuwiyak Calling: Phone-Made Media from Aboriginal Australia. Other exhibited artworks include Christmas with Wawa (2008), Djalkiri # 1 and #2 (2009) with Susan Marrawakamirr and David Bukulatjpi, My Red Yolngu Heart (2011) and the exhibition projects Interventions: Experiments between Art and Ethnography (2009), and Christmas Birrimbirr (Christmas Spirit) (2011) with Miyarrka Media. Jennifer has published widely on Aboriginal visual culture, experimental ethnography and indigenous aesthetics, including her book Shimmering Screens: Making Media in an Aboriginal Community (University of Minnesota Press, 2006).  Miyarrka Media are currently working on a co-authored book about phone-made media and shared anthropology. 




D205 Seminar Room, D Block
UNSW Art & Design
Paddington Campus
Corner of Oxford Street and Greens Road 
Paddington NSW 2021


Dr Lisa Stefanoff