MaggZ’s New Reality At Melbourne’s Immigration Museum

MaggZ’s New Reality At Melbourne’s Immigration Museum
Image: Image: Museums Victoria; Photographer Jackie Dixon

Transport yourself into a New Reality by stepping into the Long Room of the Immigration Museum to view a “multi-sensory futurist installation” by Chinese-born movement artist MaggZ.

MaggZ t spoke to Star Observer about their process, their creative and collaborative community, and the long 18-month road that brought them to this groundbreaking performance.

Having moved to Australia alone aged just 15, MaggZ’ says their “identity and body of work go hand in hand with being from the  Chinese diaspora, and there are many stages  I’ve been through/am still going through to make sense of my existence on this land.”

Trained in ballet, MaggZ now specialises in waacking, a freestyle dance style predominantly involving arm movements originating from the Black and Latinx community in LA in the 1970s. Bringing together these skills and paying tribute to MaggZ’ 昆明 (Kunming),云南 (Yunnan) roots, New Reality came about after an incident around 18 months ago which “shook me up in different ways, and really affected how I relate to  my heritage – the love-hate relationship of being Chinese, the notion of home and family, the perception of time and our capacity to build a future we desire.”

Identity And Dance

Such an expansive and complex work – even work produced about one’s own identity – cannot be done alone, and Maggz is quick to acknowledge the work and support of their creative team.

After winning the Signal Young Artist Award in 2020, MaggZ received mentorship from Jonni, a local choreographer and curator who they’d first met in 2015 through the dance crew Burn City Waack.

When Maggz divulged their story, Jonni “opened his laptop and started a City of Melbourne application with me right then and there… …I ended up receiving the funding from City of Melbourne a few months later, and that was how New Reality started.”

An eighteen-month journey began, and Jonni has been there every step of the way; “It’s been very inspiring to work alongside him/be mentored by him; his capacity to grow nuances into a long-term vision whilst actively prioritising care in his practice is something truly beautiful.”

Setting Works In A Museum Context

Each member of the creative team has been carefully selected for the quality of their work and the unique perspectives they bring to New Reality;Joli [lighting designer] and I have been working together since 2020, so naturally he was one of the first few people who came to mind when this project commenced due to his creative visions and diligent work ethic. I met Derrick [set design] and Tina [costume] in early 2023 – they are both from the Chinese diaspora like myself, living and making art (sense) on this land, therefore the connection was rather natural but intense. There have been a lot (A LOT) of conversations about our past, where we are now and where we want to be.”

Having just returned from a multi-month-long tour overseas, MaggZ is equal parts excited and curious to see how their new material reveals itself in this show, their “first time showing my large-scale solo work in a museum context”. Audiences keen to see more of MaggZ’ work as a performer, producer, and the newly-announced Young Artistic Directorate at Next Wave, should keep an eye on their Instagram to hear about exciting future works from this bold new voice.

When: November 4-6, 2023, 8–9 pm,
Where: Long Room, Immigration Museum, 400 Flinders Street, Melbourne
Tickets: $20–$30
Accessibility: attendees have the option to stand or move freely within the performance space. Limited seating is provided for those who would rather not stand, and there are designated seating areas specifically for wheelchair users.

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