An Interview with Selena de Carvalho
By Alex Morris @Nemiwai
Cross-disciplinary artist Selena de Carvalho grew up in Newcastle, and she’s been to many TiNAs over the years, including the very first.
“I often find projects to return to Newcastle with. My grandma still lives there. She and I usually go and play croquet when I’m in town. They have really awesome [croquet grounds], pretty much everyone is in their 80s, and half are called Judy, [including my grandma],” she said.
Selena is Crack Theatre Festival’s Setting the Stages artist for Tasmania, she’s lived near Hobart for the past 10 years and is the mother of two.
This weekend, along with playing croquet with her grandmother, she’ll hold two performances at Crack called The Evolutionary Straitjacket and Climate Change Karaoke. During these performances, she’ll encourage the participants to wear costumes she’s created representing extinct animals, while they belt out karaoke songs with evolution-themed lyrics.
With her current work, she’s using humour and a more participatory practice as a way to start conversations. She hopes to activate the community in a way that isn’t heavy or hung up on providing solutions, but hopes to be thought provoking.
“I introduce people to these extinct animals I’ve created; [they are] totemic rather than hyper -realistic,” Selena said. “If the audience wants to, they can embody that animal and they can choose a song from a playlist that I have and we can sing a song together.”
Some of the songs the audience can choose from include “Hey Charly for Charles Darwin”(one of her favourites) by Suzi Quatro; “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor; “If I Could Turn Back Time” by Cher and a song called “Radioactive” which resonates with a younger crowd.
“Different age groups gravitate towards different songs,” she said.
During the event there will be a bar, but rather than alcohol, she’ll have a ‘smart bar’ which will provide food and drink samples that are brain enhancing like wheatgrass and chia.
“Ordinarily when people sing karaoke in my experience, they need to get quite smashed, but it’s my belief we need to develop more intelligence,” Selena explained.
Selena brought in visual ecologist and scientist Aviva Reed from Melbourne to help with the evolution research for the project. The two are friends and peers, and this is their first time working together. Aviva will be at the performances, hosting the smart bar.
“My practice revolves and oscillates around an enquiry into human interaction with nature and our use of resources, I’m interested in the potential for a more poetic and sustainable relationship with the environment,” she said of her work.
She has three words of advice for aspiring artists: “Keep making work”.