At its most simple Kannagi is the story of a troubled marriage. Although several thousand years old, forming part of the of the Tamil epic Silapathikaram, it resonates with contemporary themes of female betrayal and empowerment explored, for example, in Beyonce’s Lemonade.  Kannagi’s husband leaves her for a dancer and only returns once he has lost his fortune. While Kannagi agrees to take her husband back tragedy strikes when he is wrongly accused of a theft and killed without trial by the King. Kannagi retaliates by proving her husbands innocence and burning down the palace in a torrent of vengeance. The enduring popularity of this story springs not only from the marital drama it depicts but in the tensions it engages between vengeance and forgiveness, power and powerlessness, the personal and the political. These tensions are sharpened by the contemporary context of the story in which Kannagi has become a popular symbol: the wake of the civil war in Sri Lanka and the defeat of the Tamil liberation struggle. Australia is home to a sizeable Tamil refugee population and this project will create cross cultural dialogues between film makers who are seeking asylum in Australia and those who currently have citizenship rights. The project will be curated and filmed collectively creating a multilayered viewing experience that will provide complex insights into justice and/or forgiveness.
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1001 Nights in Fairfield, by Zanny Begg, commissioned by STARTTS and Powerhouse Youth Theatre, 2015.

 Support Materials

Jiva Parthipan:

Jiva Parthipan is a director, creative producer and arts/cultural worker based in Sydney and working internationally with theatre, dance, performance, film and inter-disciplinary art. His work has been seen the U.K. at Tate Modern, ICA, Saddlers Wells, National Review of Live Arts, IETM and various festivals in Europe and South Africa. Recent curatorial projects include HANDFED At MCA – Museum of Contemporary Arts.

He was an associate lecturer in Performance at Central St Martin College for the Arts, London. Jiva was the first male dancer to dance with Shobana Jeyasigh dance company which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. Jiva initially trained in Classical Indian dance in London followed by a MA in Performance(Distinction) from Goldsmiths College. 

As a cultural development officer at STARTTS Jiva has creatively produced and directed LITTLE BADGHDAD – with Powerhouse Youth Theatre and the Australian Museum, Dance Africa Dance annual show and LET IT BE choral project, both at Riverside Theatres in Sydney.

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Unsubscribe to Torture, performance video by Jiva Parthipan for Amnesty International, 2013

Shahmen Suku:

Shahmen Suku was born in 1987 in Singapore and arrived in Australia in 2009. He is a performance artist who explores ideas of racial and cultural identity, gender roles, the home and the kitchen, food and storytelling. Growing up in a modern matriarchal Indian family in Singapore, Shahmen processes his sense of displacement from home as Radha La Bia, the Diva from India, who entered the country by dubious means. Moving to Australia has given Shahmen multiple perspectives on migration, culture, race, colonisation and gender identity. Some of these issues cannot be discussed openly and finds expression in his alter ego. Drawing on a background in biomedical science, cooking and interior design, Radha’s performances create holistic experiences that encompass culinary science and spatial dynamics, Spiced with family stories, Radha’s shows range across pop culture, social media and an understanding of Australia as a foreign body.

PowerPoint Presentation

PowerPoint Presentation

PowerPoint Presentation

Documentation of Rhada la Bia performances 2016-2017.

Zanny Begg:

Zanny Begg is a Sydney based artist and film maker who is interested in exploring the archeology of contested history/ies and the architecture of social change. She works with film, drawing and installation to explore ways in which we can live and be in the world differently: this has included working with macro-political themes, such as alte-globalization protests, and in micro-political worlds, such as with kids in prison.

Zanny’s work has been shown extensively in Australia and around the world, some highlights include; The National 2017: New Australian Art, The Long Paddock, Wagga Wagga Art Gallery (2017), Utopia Pulse, the Secession, Vienna, 2014 and Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart (2015), The List, Campbeltown Arts Centre (2014), Ok Video Festival, Jakarta (2013), Things Fall Apart, Artspace Sydney (2012), Social Networking, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (2012), the Berlin Biennial (2012), Limerick Biennial of Visual Art (2012), Sharjah Biennale, United Arab Emirates (2011), What Keeps Mankind Alive, Istanbul Biennale (2009) and the Taipei Biennial (2008).

She conducted a residency with Powerhouse Youth Theatre and STARTTS in 2015 and received an Australia Council Grant for Kannagi, a new project with STARTTS for 2017/2018.

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Stills from The City of Ladies, durational film in collaboration with Elise McLeod, 2017. Exhibited as part of The National, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
The City of Ladies
Password: Ladies
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Stills from 1001 Nights in Fairfield, 2015, 19mins film commissioned by PYT Fairfield and STTARTS.

Excerpt from 1001 Nights in Fairfield, 2015.

Jasmin Tarasin:

Jasmin Tarasin is an Australian director and film installation artist with an international presence. Her work explores the inner workings of the human process, and has been described as ‘powerful visual storytelling’ (Jeff Orr, Grey’s Worldwide Creative Director). Her approach is raw, stripped back cinematic beauty. Both her film and art commissions seek to make visible what it takes to live passionately.

Jasmin’s directorial debut – a four part documentary series commissioned by SBS Television and funded by Film Victoria and Screen Australia – on the artistic process of Australian fashion designers Akira Isogawa, Lover, Willow and Morrisey . (The Closet Tales of Australian Fashion, 2006) – screened to much acclaim. The Age described the documentary as “a tapestry of beautiful imagery and therein lies the appeal.” The series was a finalist for Best Documentary Series at the ATOM Awards.

Jasmin is currently working on her first feature film, a screen adaptation of the novel The Burial by Courtney Collins. The Burial, developed with assistance from Screen Australia and Film Victoria, is based on the story of the most wanted woman in Australia in 1921, Jessie Hickman, a female bushranger driven by her passion to be a free woman and live a free life.

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Still from Akira Isagowa, The Closet Tales of Australian fashion, documentary on SBS, 2006.

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Still from LIVE, installation for The Sydney festival, 2010

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Ghost Train, in development, for 2018 Sydney Festival

Dinesh Ravi:

Dinesh Ravi arrived in Australia four years ago as a refugee from the civil war in Sri Lanka. He has directed and acted in five feature films including acting in Okey Dokey 2017 and directing Feb 14? 2014. He is a volunteer with STARTTS and participated in the Acting for Camera Workshop conducted by Jiva Parthipan and Elise McLeod in March 2017. Dinesh has not been able to attend film school and is largely self taught film maker.

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Location shots, Okey Dokey, 2017

Keethana and Narthana Parthi:

Keethana and Narthana moved to Sydney from India 12 years ago . They left Sri Lanka several years before that during the civil war. Narthana is trained as classical Bharatanatyam dancer and Keethana has worked in play writing and theatre. They are both volunteers with STARTTS and participated in the Acting for Camera Workshop conducted by Jiva Parthipan and Elise McLeod in March 2017.

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Keethana and Narthana Parthi

Other Support Material:

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Documentation of Acting for Camera Workshop with members of the Tamil community, STARTTS, Auburn, April, 2017. Convened by Jiva Parthipan.