Nicola Gunn works as a performer, writer, director, producer and dramaturg, responsible for realising her own projects from conception to presentation since 2002. She makes live performances, videos, objects, site-specific installations and books. Her live works are philosophical and text-based. She borrows from theatrical, choreographic, literary, comedic and visual art languages to create a mode of contemporary performance that plays with form and pursues a narrative. She is interested in people and relationships first and foremost and how to use language simply to convey a hidden and modest complexity. The starting process is often a written text responding to a self-generated impulse to tell a story or explore a form. Exploring wide-ranging topics including power, language, institutional critique, the problem of intimacy and exposure, peace and conflict, her works attempt to intermingle material and context, complicating relationships between self, subject and viewer in the process. She has been commissioned by both theatre and dance venues, and presented in both contexts internationally. Her work has been shown in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, the US, Canada, France, Austria, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Italy, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Ireland, the UK and Belgium and by festivals and venues including Biennale Venezia di Danza, Tanz im August, Dublin Theatre Festival, Tanzquartier Wien, La Villette, Le Grütli, PuSh Festival, PS122’s Coil Festival, On the Boards, Melbourne International Arts Festival and Black Box Teater Oslo among others.
She has had residencies at Cité des Arts in Paris; USF and Carte Blanche in Bergen; The Chocolate Factory Theatre in NYC; Vooruit in Gent; Banff Centre for the Creative Arts in Canada; and Bundanon, Chunky Move, Arts House, Malthouse Theatre, MTC and Vitalstatistix in Australia.
Nicola has been awarded an Australia Council Emerging Artist Fellowship, an Australia Council Theatre Fellowship and a Sidney Myer Fellowship. As a 2016 Churchill Fellow, she researched socially engaged art and site-specific practices in the UK and the US, and spent time with Artangel, the Ruhrtriennale, Mammalian Diving Reflex and NY-based artist Aaron Landsman looking at the intersection of art and activism, art and social justice. As a performing artist and theatre maker working in this realm, Nicola has collaborated with children, a group of women from a 65+ dance improvisation class, a Boon Wurrung Language Specialist and revivalist, teenagers from a community youth arts programme attached to inner-city commission flats, a Deaf artist, and an Auslan interpreter, tackling themes such as obsolescence, irrelevance, capitalism, shame, language and the privatisation of public housing.
As a performing collaborator, she has worked consistently with choreographer Jo Lloyd, creating both performances for theatre contexts, as well as durational pieces for museums and art spaces: the National Gallery of Victoria International, West Space and Gertrude Contemporary. As a writer she has contributed text to the work of Tamara Saulwick (Public), Pan Pan (The Temple) and most recently authored the site-specific work, Passenger, for directors Ian Pidd and Jessica Wilson. In 2016 she collaborated with illustrator Michael Fikaris on a comic book called Instruction Manual for Lonely Mountains adapted from her 2014 stage production, Green Screen. As a performer she has worked with Tamara Saulwick (Public), Ridiculusmus (The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland) and Andrea Spreafico (M2L). As a dramaturg she has worked with choreographers Jo Lloyd (Confusion For Three), Luke George (Public Action, Erotic Dance) and Mirte Bogaert (And there is a chair). She was co-editor and co-curator of the Australian edition of Imagined Theatres, an online anthology of contributions by international performance artists and theorists towards the idea of an “imagined theatre”, a project conceived by Daniel Sack.
As a teacher and facilitator, she has led workshops in performance-making and writing for performance in Australia at the VCA, National Theatre School, Monash University and Back to Back Theatre; in Canada at Dawson’s College, St Catharine’s University, Intrepid Theatre and Simon Fraser University; in Ireland at Dublin Theatre Exchange for Dublin Theatre Festival; in Austria at Tanzquartier Wien; in Bergen at Bergen Dansesenter and KMD; and in Malmö at Skånes Dansteater. She is currently an Assistant Professor in a temporary position at KMD, the art academy of the University of Bergen, in the department of Time-Based Art.
Nicola holds a Master of Arts (Art in Public Space) from RMIT in Melbourne.