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It’s Youth Week WA, and Propel Youth Arts and Tone List are shining a light on young Perth creatives like KAN Collective. KAN are a team of WAAPA-trained women exploring gender, transgression, and play. ZOE KILBOURN caught up with Noemie Huttner-Koros, the N in KAN, about the team’s involvement in the KickstART Youth Arts Festival. KAN will be running a free workshop at the Blue Room this Thursday, April 19.

Who are KAN Collective, and how did you begin working together?

KAN Collective is an interdisciplinary all-female arts collective made up of Kate Thresher (visual artist), Annika Moses (composer, musician) and Noemie Huttner-Koros (performance-maker, actor) exploring immersive and intimate performance. Our practice involves performance, video, sound and composition, tactile visual art, and projection. We focus on intimate but powerful encounters between people and explore how art and performances can occur in lots of different spaces and how we can bring it out of theatres and galleries and into surprising and compelling places.

We began working together because we thought it would be exciting to see what happens when artists of three different disciplines come together. We all knew each other through different projects, but the three of us hadn’t worked together as a group before. We really wanted to make a Fringe show and decided to make our performance work, House of Joys.

In House of Joys, you led Fringe attendees through an interactive playscape built in Paper MountainWhat sort of things did your guests experience?

House of Joys emerged from our desire to create a different world for audience members to be completely immersed in – a space where people could feel free to express parts of ourselves that we often keep hidden from the outside world. Participants in the House of Joys experienced a myriad of crazy and wacky encounters.

Those ranged from Lucinda,  an outrageous dress-up queen who allowed you to totally transform your clothes, hair, and style, to conversations with performers that were entirely non-verbal. We had an upside-down art gallery, where the apprentice artist had to break an artwork in order to liberate it, and finally there was a blanket fort where participants were alone and could listen and reflect on their journey.

We wanted House of Joys to feel like a playground for adults and children alike. We wanted for it contain a kind of recklessness and boundless energy.

What have been the best responses to your work so far? Have any participants surprised you?

It’s pretty amazing to see people be totally immersed and committed to the thing that they’re participating in. So, I was performing as the director of said art gallery where the game was that I was training people to physically break these quite banal and ugly objects that we were calling “art”  (but actually we bought them for $1 from op shops). And people would get really passionate or liberated by this game and by being able to break something and it being permissible and then getting to physicalize and vocalise that. Participants are always surprising us!

I think as well with this kind of work, where it is one-on-one (as in one performer to one audience member), us (the artists) are trying to be really present with each person that comes to our work and focus in on their energy and concentration and level of engagement. And invite them into these wacky worlds we create. Some participants are shy – some are more guarded at the beginning – but I think the really wonderful thing that immersion and intimacy in performance creates is a sense of play and not needing to “get it right”.

What will your KickstART workshop involve? Who would you encourage to attend?

Our workshop at KickstART will involve lots of different ways of tuning into and being aware of your body, your senses, other people and opening up awareness to unconscious rules that we live by every day. We hope to awaken people’s senses and then to improvise, with body and voice, around a few structures. Then participants will create their own little “performances” for one other person to experience as their “audience”. So it’s all about seeing how we can create invitations for audience members to come on a journey, and then being present with that audience member.

We encourage any person who is curious about experimenting with art or performance in any way to come along! Or if you would like to make something that is really invested in audience experiences and want to connect with people. No experience needed, and everyone is welcome!

What’s coming up for KAN and the individuals in the collective?

After our workshop KAN are going to be planning for the rest of the year, and there might be some exciting collaborations ahead! I’m also currently creating two shows for TILT at the Blue Room in September and then preparing for a durational performance I’ll be doing at Spectrum Gallery in October. Kate is doing her Honours and is also being supported by the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan to do research and study in Indonesia later in the year. And Annika is performing and composing for heaps of ensembles and projects like Darling, Trio, and Great Statue. She’ll be performing at Fairbridge next weekend as well as at KickstART with a capella girl-group Darling.

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