SMAC AWARDS 2016
Angela Tiatia’s work is an active confrontation. She resists and refracts the structures imposed upon her body, challenging the viewer to re-assess representation and self-perception. Tiatia evokes numerous religious, transcultural, feminist and geopolitical issues across a range of performance platforms. In 2016, her work has ranged from a massive 17-channel live video feed installation reflecting “selfie culture” back as a series of body parts, to an examination of femininity in popular music videos. She was a finalist in this year’s Fisher’s Ghost Art Award, Blake Prize, John Fries Award, and NSW Visual Arts Fellowship (Emerging). Angela is represented by Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
BEST ARTS PROGRAM
Women Of Fairfield (MCA C3West, PYT | Fairfield, STARTTS)
Fairfield is one of Australia’s most multicultural cities, and the impact of its cultural, ethnic and religious differences is extraordinary. This live art event, curated by Anne Loxley and Karen Therese and facilitated by Jiva Parthipan, sought to explore the complex question of what it means to be a woman in Fairfield. Cars decorated by Aboriginal, Iraqi and Khmer women blasted collages of sound and music as they did laps of Fairfield’s streets at dusk. Live and filmed performances of local female martial artists upended a male-dominated cultural tradition. The project comprised two years of collaboration with local communities, and the result was a vivid celebration of diversity and womanhood. The project artists were Kate Blackmore, Hissy Fit and Maria Tran, Claudia Nicholson, and Zoe Scoglio. Women of Fairfield was a collaboration between the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia’s C3West program, Powerhouse Youth Theatre (PYT) and the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS).
BEST ON STAGE
Staged in the intimacy of a handful of Sydney backyards, The Tribe is a portrait of a boy (played by by Hazem Shammas) finding his place through stories of his family’s homeland. Writer Michael Mohammed Ahmad wanted to push back against the limited and simplistic representations of Arab-Australians living in Western Sydney, and he succeeded in a clever way. The Tribe isn’t a political attack—it’s a rich and arresting collection of memories, grounded in the familiarity of domestic life. The Tribe, adapted by Ahmad and Janice Muller from Ahmad’s novel of the same name, and produced by Urban Theatre Projects, made its debut as part of BANKSTOWN:LIVE in Sydney Festival in 2015 and was co-presented with Belvoir in 2016.
Rising Sun Workshop
Between April and October in 2014, a combination ramen bar and motorcycle workshop became Newtown’s most in-demand eatery. It might have felt like an unconventional pairing—until you went there. The successful popup paved way for the new, permanent Rising Sun Workshop, housed in the old Mitre 10 on Whateley Street. The team—Nick Smith, Dimity and Heleana Genaus, Dan Cesarano, and Adrian Sheather—expanded their intriguing menu, divided the cavernous space into café and workshop, and revived the spirit that made the original Rising Sun so damn great.
BEST SONG – PRESENTED BY APRA|AMCOS
Shining Bird – Helluva Lot
South Coast legends Shining Bird have a long-running knack for turning nostalgia into vibrant, crystalline melodies. ‘Helluva Lot’ packs an emotional punch on the first listen. It’s a shimmering, percussive anthem that puts Farnsey in the back seat and sets off into the setting sun. Filled with elation and melancholy, ‘Helluva Lot’ is a panorama of Australian sights and wonders. Dare we say it – it’s a helluva song.
BEST MUSIC EVENT – PRESENTED BY RED BULL SOUND SELECT
Heaps Gay are the all-inclusive champions of pure positive vibes, known for throwing some of the city’s wildest, most extravagant parties. Their range of events gets more diverse by the day, and the parties just keep getting bigger—this year’s outrageous Mardi Gras float featured 100 glittering Beyoncés. They partnered with Vivid Sydney for a second year, throwing a day and night carnival of music and art at the Factory Theatre in June. For their third birthday in October, Heaps Gay did a whole-venue takeover of the Imperial Hotel—the massive crowd a true testament to the absolutely vital place Heaps Gay have in our cultural heart.
BEST LIVE ACT – PRESENTED BY YOUNG HENRYS
Papua New Guinea-born, Sydney-based Ngaiire released her second album, Blastoma, this year. Named after a cancer diagnosis she received at age 3, it’s a record of deep soul and sparse electronic production, marked by standout singles ‘Once’ and ‘House on a Rock’. Ngaiire has taken it on the road over a year of spellbinding live performances, tearing up festival stages at Beyond the Valley, Listen Out and Splendour in the Grass. Wrapped in extravagant costumes, Ngaiire’s live presence is led by a whole-body sense of rhythm. Seeing her in person, moving in perfect sync with her soaring voice, is something you’ll cherish forever.
NEXT BIG THING – PRESENTED BY AIM
On holidays at age ten, Julia Jacklin caught a Britney Spears doco on TV and knew she had to be a singer. After taking classical singing lessons, going on a formative trip to South America, and playing in a handful of bands, she gifted us with her debut solo album, Don’t Let the Kids Win. The now 25-year-old Inner West local looks back on her childhood and adolescence with wry honesty, a refreshing lack of hapless nostalgia and a finely controlled voice, heavy with history and insight. Don’t Let the Kids Win is a stunning debut on what it means to grow up, and an introduction to a massive new talent.
FBi CLICK – BEST PRODUCER
Nina Las Vegas
For years, Nina Las Vegas has been Australia’s loudest and most esteemed champion of new dance music. Now, with her own record label and a stunning debut EP, she’s wholly embraced her niche and is influencing the scene’s trajectory in a much bolder way. NLV Records has gotten behind an exciting new wave of Aussie producers making high-energy, experimental club music, two of whom are Nina herself and fellow nominee Swick. From hyper-driven dancehall to four-on-the-four rave clangers, Nina Las Vegas’ Ezy or Never EP knocked us with a dizzying sparkle in April and we cannot wait for more.
RECORD OF THE YEAR
Shining Bird – Black Opal
Shining Bird locked themselves away for long recording sessions deep in the Blue Mountains over the last two years. We wondered what they’d return with, whether it’d ring with same quintessentially Australian rock majesty of their breakthrough album Leisure Coast. Leading singles ‘Helluva Lot’ and ‘I Can Run’ assured us there was magic on the way. The rest of Black Opal brims with the nostalgic spirit that always made Shining Bird a force to be reckoned with—a unique way of looking backward and forward at once, a great survey of all the things that make this land of ours great, and a guiding hand through the challenges we still need to address.
SMAC OF THE YEAR
Borrowing the words of FBi’s Managing Director, Clare Holland:“When you look at the nominees in this year’s awards, the diversity and breadth of creativity offers a reassuring counterpoint to the narrative that Sydney culture is dead. But despite the talent on display here tonight, we must keep advocating for greater investment and regulatory change. Increasingly, young people and culture are losing out to competing interests with louder voices or deeper pockets, and legislative trends speak of a failure to acknowledge the true value a thriving culture offers.
“Our SMAC of the Year winner is someone who decided to stand up and take action; to ensure that his views and those of his community weren’t ignored. He built a movement from the ground up, which developed such a groundswell that it demanded he be given a seat at the table. He gave a voice to our frustrations and ensured that the value of what everyone in this room does is represented.”