PuSh Blog

2023 PuSh Festival Curatorial Statement

November 22, 2022

Is art essential?

Over the course of recent crises, the necessity of art has been questioned. The 2023 PuSh Festival has been programmed with necessity in mind. These are works we need to face challenging truths with empathy, embodiment, and communion—works like afternow, nora chipaumire’s radio opera homage to Zimbabwe’s revolutionary spirit Nehanda, and Never Twenty One, Smail Kanouté’s tribute to young Black victims of gun violence.

They are works we need for radical presence and listening, namely Lisa C. Ravensbergen’s The Seventh Fire, an audio ceremony that connects us to the medicine within through Anishinaabe sources; and MANUAL, Adam Kinner and Christopher Willes’ study of the social life of sounds—a manual for slowing down. They are works we need to inspire us to overcome, such as Alan Lake Factorie’s Le cri des méduses, a dance of life and survival by the shipwrecked; O’DD, Race Horse Company’s story of humanity in the guts of gravity; and LONTANO + INSTANTE, Compagnie 7bis’ push to the edge of physical limitation.

The solo form is prevalent this year. It reflects an imposed austerity born of a faltering globalized market, and its impact on live arts production. The form is also honest in its innate vulnerability. It has a gift for confronting us with the individual stories behind social and political ideologies. Jaha Koo returns to PuSh with Lolling and Rolling, a look at the loss of cultural agency through linguistic colonization. In because i love the diversity, Rakesh Sukesh, an involuntary subject of far right propaganda, questions the roots of xenophobia. Tiziano Cruz’s Soliloquio weaves letters to his mother in a story of forgotten peoples.

In Okinum, or ‘dam’ in Anishinaabemowin, Émilie Monnet reclaims language and breaks
down internal barriers. New Dance Horizons’ THIS & the last cariboo explores cultural commodification and erasure. And Itai Erdal reveals his culpability in personal and political conflict in Soldiers of Tomorrow.

This Festival sees a renewed international presence on our stages as we celebrate foreign forms and present the very best in contemporary performance from near and far. In addition to the aforementioned international artists, the 2023 program includes Bulgaria’s famous singer-songwriter Ivo Dimchev, who playfully subverts the roles of spectator and performer in Selfie Concert, and Britain’s percussionist extraordinaire Joby Burgess who transmutes eclectic inspirations in A Percussionist’s Songbook.

In a time of increasingly visible impacts of climate change, of war, and of the rise of fascism, the future weighs heavy with uncertainty. Several works leave us hopeful for tomorrow: Ontroerend Goed’s Are we not drawn onward to a new erA is a visual metaphor for this crucial moment in our ‘Future history’ and Coloured Swan 3: Harriet’s reMix is Moya Michael’s unique brand of Afrofuturism, posing questions about spirituality, displacement and the non-linearity of time.

I couldn’t be more excited about this Festival program—I believe each work offers a dose of what we need now. Join us at PuSh 2023, a manifesto for the necessity of live art.

Gabrielle Martin