Black Tourmaline //  CRR // Testing Grounds 2019
to Jun 15

Black Tourmaline // CRR // Testing Grounds 2019


Black Tourmaline is a site-specific installation and participatory project that invites people who identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Colour to contribute to an archive of lived-experiences of education over a period of 24-days. A curated program of workshops and panel discussions will unpack ideas around self-determined spaces for learning, healing and knowledge-sharing outside the academy.

This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and the Carstairs Prize, funded by a private donor and administered by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA). #NAVAgrants


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Lunchtime Lit: Collectives Book Club
12:30 PM12:30

Lunchtime Lit: Collectives Book Club

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Founders of creative collectives Still Nomads, Negro Speaks of Books, Black Shell and Community Reading Room draw from the texts that inspire them, and speak to community building, creating spaces for critical consciousness, and finding comfort and strength in reading together.

With Laila Thaker (Black Shell); Areej Nur (Still Nomads); Inez Trambas (Negro Speaks of Books) and Torika Bolatagici (Community Reading Room).

Experimedia, State Library Victoria
328 Swanston St, Melbourne
Thursday 28 June, 2018

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Human Rights Arts and Film Festival
12:00 PM12:00

Human Rights Arts and Film Festival


Saturday 6 May

In the wake of the #MeToo social media campaign and revived discussions on feminism, where does this leave gender equality in Australia today? How do we now strategically mobilise beyond online discussions to build sustainable movements and alternative institutions? This panel will discuss the intersections of violence enacted on feminine and femme bodies and how women can locate and embed agency in community, in work, and in love.

TextaQueen, Dawn Iris Dangkomen, Torika Bolatagici, Roj Amedi


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Arts House Season 2
to Jul 30

Arts House Season 2

A pop-up destination for researchers, artists and book lovers, The Community Reading Room (CRR) holds space for individuals who identify as First Nations and People of Colour to encounter texts that acknowledge and place their lived experience and practice at the centre, rather than the margin.

Fijian-Australian artist and academic Torika Bolatagici has critically curated and lovingly gathered an extensive repository of texts spanning contemporary art and theory from Oceania, Africa and the Americas – postcolonial art, literature and philosophy on migration, citizenship and cultural identity.

Part intervention, part education and part inspiration, CRR is a discursive project that invites us to consider the inclusivity of public spaces and to contemplate how our knowledge institutions privilege particular ways of knowing and being. Drop in, peruse the selection of texts, and join us for D I S P L A C E  A N D  D I S P L A N T, a closing event hosted by Still Nomads and CRR that sees black artists – First Nations, Afro-diasporic and Pasifika – share words, visuals, sounds and space.

Opening Hours
11am–7pm (weekdays)
1pm – 7pm (weekends)
Wed 19 – Sun 30 Jul
Closed Mon +Tues

D I S P L A C E  A N D  D I S P L A N T with Still Nomads
5pm-7pm, Sun 30 Jul


Arts House
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry St,
North Melbourne

Created & Devised by: Torika Bolatagici
Image: Torika Bolatagici
Text source: Arts House

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7:00 PM19:00

Black Birds present Th(i)rd C(u)lture

The Community Reading Room are thrilled to announce that Black Birds will be bringing their new work Th(i)rd C(u)lture to Testing Grounds for a one-off, 45 minute performance.

Two women see each other. They might not know each other by name, but there is something on the surface that connects them deeply. Brownness. Their light(ish) skin; a constant reminder/signpost/acknowledgement of their mixed race heritage. Mixed in skin and identity; their parents born in one country, themselves born in another and then raised in another again: Third Culture Kids.

This new work presented by Black Birds with the support of the Community Reading Room explores the experiences and effects of these ideas of identity amongst verbatim, music and moved spoken word. Directed by Emele Ugavule with performances from Angela Sullen and Ayeesha Ash.

The Black Birds Project was started by Emele Ugavule in 2015 as an all female ongoing theatrical exploration that seeks to dissect the Black diasporic experience in Australia.  In 2016, Ayeesha Ash joined the Black Birds Project as a Co-Creative Director. As a result, it has now expanded to collaborations with actors, artists and musicians exploring the nature of being a cross cultural woman beyond the theatrical space and into other performance mediums such as visual art and film.

This is event is FREE and all are welcome!

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5:30 PM17:30

This Mob presents Inter-ACTION: A Reading and a Response Workshop

Photo by Kate ten Buuren

Photo by Kate ten Buuren

This Mob and the Community Reading Room present Inter-ACTION: A Reading and a Response Workshop

Responding to the reading list available in the Community Reading Room library, participants will have two hours to prepare a response to the texts provided. This could be in the form of a reading, a performance, a visual art piece etc there are no boundaries.

Community Reading Room allows First Nation peoples and POC to "encounter texts that acknowledge and place their lived experience and practice at the centre, rather than the margin," and this event encourages creative interpretations of the images and texts provided.

This is a chance to connect with other mob, have a yarn and make something together in a fun, safe and nurturing environment!

Materials and supplies will be provided, participants are invited to bring their own supplies too. You don't have to be an 'artist' to attend this event. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people prioritised to participate for the first two hours of the night (5:30 - 7:30). If you would like to be involved in the art making process, please let us know so we have an idea of numbers! 

And then when we're tired of making, we'll dance. DJs TBA. 

Bar open and everyone welcome from 7:30 - 9:00pm.

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3:00 PM15:00

Still Nomads present 'Nomadic Space Jam'

Photograph by Ruth Ruach and design by Aysha Tufa

Photograph by Ruth Ruach and design by Aysha Tufa

This event will take place on stolen lands of the Wurundjeri peoples of the Kulin nation. we pay our respects to elders past and present, and acknowledge sovereignty was never ceded and a treaty has never been signed

Still Nomads in collaboration with Community Reading Room - we're jamming!

+ zines
+ open mic
+ visual art
+ snacks
+ music and chats

More info & artists to be announced.

Photograph by Ruth Ruach and design by Aysha Tufa

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6:00 PM18:00

Stéphanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe: Performative Reading

Rwandan-British composer and artist Stéphanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe is Reader-in-Residence at the Community Reading Room for the duration of the installation at Testing Grounds.

Stéphanie will be presenting a performative reading including live music and oration, using graphic score translations created from narratives found within the Community Reading Room and her personal collection.

Addressing the faults of the religious and colonial framework within which Dewey created his Decimal System of categorising information for libraries and catalogues, 'Dewey Disengagement System' is her new work being developed in the Community Reading Room. 

Stéphanie's practice explores the navigation of identity as a ‘Third Culture Kid’ through block printed graphic scores, narrative ceremony, adornment and cultural contextualisation via cross-generational conversations.

Referencing the ongoing navigation of third culture, through a triple translation system Stéphanie will interpret narratives and concepts from within the Community Reading Room collection:

1. Written to graphic
2. Written to oral
3. Graphic and oral to performative reading

Narrative languages explored:

As a formally trained composer and Umunyarwandakazi (Rwandan woman), Stéphanie hybridizes western music notation and Rwandan graphic language systems to create graphic scores on mixed paper stock

with family elders and the public, inviting conversation around identity, personal histories and expressions of living culture. To be audio recorded for incorporation into the work

Interpreting the graphic glyph and music notation systems in combination with oration into a live translation or ‘performative reading’.

Friday 17th February 2017, 6:00-7:15pm in the Community Reading Room at Testing Grounds, 1-23 City Rd, Southbank VIC 3006.

FREE and all welcome!


FRI 10 February– Fri 23 February
In Residence: listening, reading, conversing, creating
Fri 10th – Sat 11th : 10am – 6pm
Wed 15th – Sat 18th : 10am – 6pm
Thu 23rd – Fri 24th : 10am – 6pm

FRI 17 February, 6:00 – 7:15pm
Performative Reading: live music and oration reading, using graphic score translations created from narratives found within the Community Reading Room and Stéphanie’s personal collection

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