Channels 2017: Futures of


Imagine the following: a woman dressed as a clown stands in front of a camera giving a rendition of Donald Trump’s inauguration speech, Mother Earth has been transformed into a rapper whose rhymes are aimed at retaliating against environmental destruction, a woman inserts herself into hip-hop dance videos of the 1990s, both questioning and enjoying our sense of nostalgia. These are just some of the scenes showing at Channels 2017: Futures of.

Bringing together 90 artists across 14 events throughout Melbourne, Channels 2017 celebrates the importance of video art, showcasing the different ways artists use and incorporate the moving image.

This year the festival is focussing on the future, a theme that has been created through conversations with the artists.

As artistic director Alicia Renew explains, “Everyone I spoke to is really creating in response to what’s happening around the world and the current uncertainty.” And the festival’s imagined futures appear more dystopian than hopeful. “It all started off quite positive,” says Renew. “But then February 2016 hit and Donald Trump started saying all of these things and the flow-on effect really changed the way everyone in the program was working.”

The main exhibition of Channels 2017, FUTURE TENSE at The SUBSTATION, features six artists who each engage with some aspect of our collective future. This includes Wakka Wakka and Yargel artist Hannah Brontë’s work, Umma’s Tongue-molten at 6000˚, which explores environmental destruction and the anger of Mother Earth.

Meanwhile Antoinette J. Citizen’s piece looks at data and surveillance. The artist has recently been tracking people’s movements in gallery spaces, and the gathered information is set to be data-dumped on The SUBSTATION’s floor.

Another highlight is American artist Rachel Mason and her video work FutureClown. “This is Rachel’s alias. She dresses-up as a dystopian clown and she live streams political speeches,” says Renew. “This really took off when Donald Trump was elected and one of the major pieces we’re showing is his inauguration speech which she live-streams.”

In addition, Karen Garcia will be performing one-minute interludes of hip-hop dances to 1990s American TV show, In Living Colour. Channels has also commissioned new work from South-Sudanese artist Atong Atem, while Kate Geck will explore augmented reality around the Newport retail precinct.

Channels 2017: Futures of
The SUBSTATION, Australian Centre for Moving Image, Federation Big Screen, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Newport retail precinct and BLINDSIDE
1 September – 10 September

Preview Words by Tiarney Miekus