Environmental Humanities

Sites of Violence

‘Sites of Violence’ merges artistic and academic understandings of human and non-human experiences of violence, and the processes, emotions, and meaning that this violence makes manifest. The purpose of this transboundary approach is to dismantle learned indifference by introducing multiple perspectives to old problems, whilst facilitating productively disruptive collaborations between researchers and artists.

By providing a framework that challenges artists and academics to step beyond their normal sphere of thought to combine various processes of knowledge creation and translation, Sites of Violence is both a clear-eyed examination of the systemic mechanisms of violence that underpin the human desire for control and domination, as well as a recognition of injustice for the landscapes and people who bear the burden of that violence.

‘Sites of Violence’ will produce a live theatrical work produced and directed by Michelle St Anne. The artistic work, The foul of the air, is a site-specific and multi-disciplinary performance that moves within the architecture of 107 in Redfern. Performers, from various artistic fields, take the audience through an intimate non-conventional experience inspired by academic research and a bestselling Australian novel. The vision of this project is to tell Australian stories through a diverse range of voices from scholars and performance artists about how violence against women and the environment seeps out in plain sight. The work is inspired by the female characters in Charlotte Wood’s novel The Natural Way of Things, who have been isolated from mainstream society after misadventures with powerful men. The work embodies the tension between the personal and the universal by telling the stories from the two most significant sites of violence of our time – against women and the environment.

A series of interdisciplinary collaborations will also be facilitated between a new wave of Sydney Environment Institute researchers. Through music, through performance, and through scholarship, these collaborations will explore unresolved violence and the ways that it is hidden in plain sight, as well as the ways that cycles of violence and fear endure in Australian bodies and in Australian landscapes. Informing and being shaped by the research will be a range of academic publications, directed at supporting justice initiatives and gaining well-being and resilience policy traction.

The creative development process will include Scholar/artists in studio; roundtable discussions, public talks and co-authored papers that track the project and it’s overarching themes. ‘Sites of Violence’ hopes to help us to recognise and consider our responses to unseen violence, so as to build our capacity to stand in its truth rather than in its denial.

This project is led by Michelle St Anne, Deputy Director and Operations Manager – Programming, Impact and Engagement at the Sydney Environment Institute.