Special Program Events and Exhibitions | Streams | Talking Circles

The Conference program will consist of a mix of plenary and parallel sessions, running from 22 to 25 July 2010.

If your proposal for an in-person presentation has been accepted, we cannot schedule your session in the Conference program until you have submitted a paid registration.

Click here to view the   of the 2010 Arts Conference (link will open in a new window).

Bookmark the page to visit again for updates, and please note that the final, official program will be provided in printed format at the Conference.

Comprehensive presentation details may be viewed on the Session Descriptions page.

Special Program Events and Exhibitions

Artists’ Reception and Exhibition Opening ­– Thursday, 22 July ­­– 5:00-7:00 PM (17:00-19:00)

BRUCE BARBER: WORK 1970-2008 ­– Featured Book Launch ­– Friday, 23 July ­– 5:15-6:15 PM (17:15-18:15)

Blair French and Stephen Cleland (editors)
Contributors: Bruce Barber, Christina Barton, Brad Buckley, Emma Bugden, Mark A. Cheetham, Alex Gawronski, Marc James Léger and Laura Preston.
Published by Artspace Visual Arts Centre and Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts

To be launched by Brad Buckley - artist, and Associate Professor at Sydney College of the Arts, the University of Sydney, where he was until recently Director of the Graduate School. Buckley was educated at St Martin’s School of Art, London, and the Rhode Island School of Design. He is co-editor, with John Conomos, of Rethinking the Contemporary Art School (2009) and Republics of Ideas (2001), and was co-curator of the exhibition Bruce Barber: Reading and Writing Rooms at Artspace in 2008. Buckley’s work has been shown internationally for over two decades.

On the book:
Developing out of major survey exhibitions at Artspace Visual Arts Centre (Australia) and Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts (New Zealand), this book surveys almost four decades of work by Canada-based artist Bruce Barber. Ranging across performance, installation, film, video and photography, Barber’s practice has long been consistently situational and propositional, resulting in works that engage and question social and political regimes of power. Edited by Stephen Cleland and Blair French, this book features extensive documentation of Barber’s work between 1970 and 2008 along with contributions by Bruce Barber, Christina Barton, Brad Buckley, Emma Bugden, Mark A. Cheetham, Alex Gawronski, Marc James Léger and Laura Preston.

Bruce Barber is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia where he is Professor and Director of the MFA Program at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University. He has exhibited and published extensively internationally since the early 1970s. He is editor of Essays on Performance and Cultural Politicization (1983), Conceptual Art: the NSCAD Connection 1967–1973 (2001), Condé and Beveridge: Class Works (2008) and co-editor, with Serge Guilbaut and John o’Brian of Voices of Fire: Art Rage, Power, and the State (1996). A two-volume set of his writings has been published as Performance, [Performance] and Performers: Essays and Conversations 1976–2006 (2007), whilst his most recent book is Trans/actions: Art, Film and Death (2009).

Special Exhibition: proppaNOW: Women Artists, Women’s Business

The exhibition, proppaNOW:  Women Artists, Women’s Business, features the art works of proppaNOW Aboriginal Artists Collective’s Brisbane-based members Jennifer Herd, Bianca Beetson and Andrea Fisher. The exhibition presents the artists’ innovative approaches to Aboriginal Art and contemporary urban expressions that situate Indigenous women’s art as central to Australian art history and national culture. Fresh from the Putsch exhibit at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, proppaNOW artists look to overthrow institutionalized racism, stereotypes, urban myths and romanticised views of contemporary Indigenous art.

The artists will speak at the Arts Conference on Friday, 23 July, as part of a panel in conversation with Profs. Tressa Berman and Pat Hoffie.

Special Exhibition: ‘Shuangshuang’

Solo exhibition by Shanghai based artist Wang Tiande.


The Conference is divided into general topical areas or streams. These are very loosely grouped, approximating perspectives, knowledge bases, professional practices or disciplines. As much as possible, we try to program parallel sessions relating to each stream into the same room. This means that it would be possible, if one wished, to follow the same stream for the whole conference. Each stream also has a related talking circle, a forum for focused discussion of issues.

You will be asked to select one or more streams when you submit a presentation proposal. If you select more than one stream or ‘other’, the conference organisers will choose a stream based on a reading of your title and abstract, or the one which seems to fit best with other presentation proposals that have been submitted.

The Arts Conference Streams

  • Teaching and Learning the Arts
  • Arts Policy, Management and Advocacy
  • Arts Theory and Criticism
  • Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts
  • Visual Arts Practices
  • Performing Arts Practices: Theatre, Dance, Music
  • Literary Arts Practices
  • Media Arts Practices: Television, Multimedia, Digital, Online and Other New Media

Talking Circles

Background | Purpose | How They Work | Facilitator | Possible Session Contents


Talking circles are meetings of minds, often around points of difference or difficulty. They are common in indigenous cultures. The inherent tension of these meetings is balanced by protocols of listening and respect for varied viewpoints. From this, rather than criticism and confrontation, productive possibilities may emerge.

The Purpose of Talking Circles in this Conference

The purpose of the talking circles is to give shape to a conference that is wide-ranging in its scope and broad-minded in its interests. They also give people an opportunity to interact around the key ideas of the Conference away from the formalities of the plenary, paper, workshop and colloquium sessions. They are places for the cross-fertilisation of ideas, where cycles of conversation are begun, and relationships and networks formed.

Talking circles are not designed to force consensus or even to strive towards commonality. Their intention is, in the first instance, to find a common ground of shared meanings and experiences in which differences are recognised and respected. Their outcome is not closure in the form of answers, but an openness that points in the direction of pertinent questions. The group finally identifies axes of uncertainty that then feed into the themes for the Conference of the following year.

How Do They Work?

The talking circles meet for two 45-minute sessions during the Conference, and the outcomes of each talking circle are reported back to the whole Conference in the closing plenary session. They are grouped around each of the Conference streams and focus on the specific areas of interest represented by each stream. Following is the talking circles outline that is currently in use, but we welcome feedback and suggestions for improvement from participants.

  • Talking Circle 1 (45 minutes): Who Are We? What is our common ground?
  • Talking Circle 2 (45 minutes): What is to be done?
  • Closing Plenary: 15-minute contribution to the closing plenary by the talking circles facilitator.

It is important to note that each talking circle may be organised in any way that members of the group agree is appropriate. They may be informal and discursive, or structured and task-oriented. Each talking circle group has a facilitator.

The Role of the Facilitator

The facilitator must be comfortable with the process of thinking ‘out of the square’ and also embracing multiple and diverse scenarios. The process is one of creating a kind of collective intelligence around the stream. The facilitator should shape a conversation that is open to possibilities and new lines of inquiry or action; they should embody a spirit of openness to new knowledge rather than the closure of advocacy. The facilitator is required to keep a record of the main discussion points. These points need to be summarised for the talking circles facilitator who will make in a 15-minute presentation in the closing plenary session at the Conference.

Possible Session Contents - Suggestions to Assist Facilitators

Talking Circle 1 (45 minutes): Who are we?

  • Orientation: members of the group briefly introduce themselves.
  • What could be the narrative flow of the talking circle sessions?
  • What could be the outcomes of the work of this group and its contribution to the closing plenary session, the Journal and the Conference as a whole (including the themes for next year’s conference)?
  • Assessing the landscape, mapping the territory: What is the scope of our stream? Do we want to rename it?
  • What are the burning issues, the key questions for this stream?
  • What are the forces or drivers that will affect us as professionals, thinkers, citizens, and aware and concerned people whose focus is this particular stream?
  • Where could we be, say, ten years hence? Scenario 1: optimism of the will, Scenario 2: pessimism of the intellect.

Talking Circle 2 (45 minutes): What themes are emerging?

*What are our differences?

  • The setting: present and imminent shocks, crises, problems, dilemmas - what are they and what is the range of responses?
  • What are the cleavages, the points of dissonance and conflict?
  • What are the dimensions of our differences (1)? Politics, society, economics, culture, technology, environment.
  • What are the dimensions of our differences (2)? Persons, organisations, communities, nations, the global order.

*What is our common ground?

  • Where are the moments of productive diversity?
  • What are the bases for collaboration (1)? Politics, society, economics, culture, technology, environment.
  • What are the bases for collaboration (2)? Persons, organisations, communities, nations, the global order.

- Alternative futures: outline several alternative scenarios.

- What are the forces that drive in the direction of, or mitigate against, each scenario?

*What is to be done?

  • What’s been coming up in the parallel sessions in this stream since the last talking circle?
  • What is the emerging view of the future?
  • Can we foresee, let alone predict alternative futures?
  • Looking back a decade hence, what might be decisive or seminal in the present?
  • Scenarios: can we create images of possibility and agendas for robust alternative futures?
  • Directions: conventional and unconventional wisdoms?
  • Strategies: resilience in the face of the inevitable or creative adaptation?
  • What could be done: review the scenarios developed in Talking Circle 1.
  • Axes of uncertainty: working towards the right questions even when there’s no certainty about the answers.

Closing Plenary: 15-minute contribution to the closing plenary by the talking circles facilitator based on summaries provided by each talking circle.