Watch the UTS Big Thinking Forums

January 25, 2021
Sydney Festival
Words
Catch up on the 2021 talks series

Sydney Festival 2021 was the sixth year in our partnership with University of Technology Sydney and, excitingly, the first year we've offered it as a digital program, streaming the Big Thinking Forums to YouTube.

These free events tackled some of the hottest topics that surfaced to the forefront of our consciousness in a year of deep disruption across the social, political, and natural worlds. In each forum Sydney Festival artists were joined by UTS academics for an open discussion, moderated in all three by Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt of UTS.

Memory, Memorials and Truth

Sunshine Super Girl writer and Director Andrea James was joined by the journalist and five-time Walkleys Masters winner, Chris Masters, and UTS Professor Lindon Coombes (Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research) for a debate about how we remember, how we commemorate and why we build monuments in a post-truth world.

Amid recent debates over the Caption Cook statue in Sydney and the Djab Wurrung birthing tree in western Victoria, the Memory, Memorials, And Truth panel questioned and explored whether we value First Nations memorials the same way we value colonial statues and what that tells us.

Watch the forum below:

Impacts of Isolation

Just when we thought we could stick 2020 in the bin came a sting in the tail, as Sydney's Northern Beaches went into lockdown and COVID concerns were renewed across the country. In the second Big Thinking Forum, Impacts of Isolation, Festival Director Wesley Enoch and Head of Indigenous Employment and Diversity at the ABC, Phillipa McDermott, discussed what has been gained and what has been lost during these long and unsettling days of isolation.

Now, as the global pandemic moves into a new phase and vaccination teases us from the horizon, with a promise of a return to ‘normalcy’, Wesley and Phillipa assessed the long-term impact of the last year and whether life is forever altered.

Watch the forum below:

The Art of Nature

In the third and final Big Thinking Forum of 2021, soprano Jane Sheldon (poem for a dried up river), leading Sydney-based artist Janet Laurence (curator of Requiem), and Dr Jason de Santolo (UTS Associate Professor, School of Design) tackled the question: can artists shape the way we think about the environment?

Narrative has always been important where transformation takes place in human attitudes and behaviour. From climate change to the global pandemic, The Art of Nature panel discussed the role of artists play in communicating the difficult and complex challenges faced by the world.

Watch the forum below:


Image credits: Yaya Stempler, from Impacts of Isolation.

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