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On Power | Conversations

October 19, 2019 @ 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Free – $10

When you don’t see a platform that exists for you or those around you, how do you come together to make one? Sista Zai Zanda is a storyteller and curator who provides platforms for artists through Pan Afrikan Poets Café. She’s performed her own work on various stages and provided platforms for many more.

Hear insights into how to keep community building and care at the core of what you do. How do we forge our own ways to imagine a better future?

How are stories from the margins told? In a quest for “diversity” or notions of “authenticity” within the dominant culture, there can be tropes that define those from outside it.

As talk of diversity, inclusion and representation build momentum within Eurocentric institutions, it can feel as if artists are being placed in pigeonholes – the way that artistic expression of culturally diverse person can be flat and two dimensional. Roanna Gonsalves, Eugenia Flynn, Dr. Priya Srinivasan and Hella Ibrahim discuss ways of challenging the tropes and tokenism that can plague the way art from the margins is pulled into the centre.

Hosted by Samuel Gaskin. Performances by Jonathan Homsey, Priya Srinivasan and Uthra Vijayaraghavan.

19 Oct 2019
Sat, 2-5 PM,
Schoolhouse Studios,
81 Rupert St, Collingwood

Tickets via Eventbrite

*For more information on our new Ticket to Solidarity ticketing policy, click here.

Commitments to diversity have become a catchcry, with a noticeable shift in programming happening in many of our cultural spaces. How much has really changed over the past few years, and where are we heading? Has the way diversity is framed left us just performing a feeling of otherness, and how do we move beyond it?

This series of events will consider ways we might come together to amplify and support the voices of those around us, and how art can help us make sense of a world that is rapidly shifting.

Sista Zai Zanda
is a storyteller, educator and curator of the Pan Afrikan Poets Cafe – an Afro-Literary matinée of beats, performance and poetry. Since 2015, Zai has spoiled audiences in Melbourne and Sydney with over 100 performances by African and First Nations storytellers including feature performances by renowned international artists Mahogany L Browne (NYC, Nuyorican Poets Cafe), Inua Ellams (Nigeria/UK), Kat François (Trinidad/UK) and Jive Poetic (NYC).

Amongst career highlights, Zai has co-produced a sold out Pan Afrikan Poets Cafe event at Arts Centre Melbourne (#BlackGirlMagic), worked as a Youth Zone consultant for one of Africa’s top 10 international arts festivals, hosted the 2018 Melbourne Writers Festival Opening Night Gala, curated and produced live radio broadcasts of the Pan Afrikan Poets Cafe and is currently engaged as an Artistic Associate with Melbourne’s Due West Festival.

Image credit: See below.

Roanna Gonsalves (PhD, UNSW) is the author of The Permanent Resident (UWAP), published in India as Sunita De Souza Goes To Sydney (Speaking Tiger). The book won the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Multicultural Prize 2018 and was longlisted for the Dobbie Literary Award. Her four-part radio documentary series, On the tip of a billion tongues (ABC RN Earshot) is an acerbic socio-political portrayal of contemporary India through its multilingual writers. She has received the Prime Minister’s Australia-Asia Endeavour Award, an Australian Writers’ Guild Award, the UNSW Copyright Agency Writing Residency, a Bundanon Writing Residency, and The Bridge Awards’ inaugural Varuna – Cove Park Scotland Writing Residency 2019. She is founding co-editor of Southern Crossings, and serves on the Board of Writing NSW.

Image credit: Roanna Gonsalves. Courtesy the artist.

Eugenia Flynn is a writer, arts worker and community organiser. Eugenia’s thoughts on the politics of race, gender and culture have been published widely, including on her blog Black Thoughts Live Here. She identifies as Aboriginal, Chinese Malaysian and Muslim, working within her multiple communities to create change through art, literature and community development.

Image Credit: Eugenia Flynn. Photo by Ahmed Sabra.



Hella Ibrahim is an editor with a passion for activism through writing and publishing. She works as a project editor at an education publishing company on weekdays, and is the founder and editorial director of Djed Press, an online publication that provides a paid platform for creators of colour. 

Image Credit: Hella Ibrahim. Photo by Husny Thalib.



Dr. Priya Srinivasan is a dancer, curator and writer who combines  theory and practice. Her performances and research prioritize decolonization making visible minority women’s histories. Originally from Melbourne, Priya was trained in the classical and contemporary Indian and Asian arts and performed  extensively in Australia and Asia. Her work brings together live bodily performance with visual art, interactive multimedia and digital technology to think  about archives of the body, migration, and female labor. She has performed in  several festivals and sites in Melbourne such as Mapping Melbourne, Jaipur  Literary Festival, AsiaTOPA, at the Treasury Building, Fed Square,  Bunjilaka, Bundoora Homestead, Immigration Museum and Dancehouse. Most recently she was selected to tour the Indigenous/Indian feminist multi disciplinary collaboration of Churning Waters to India for Australia Festival in India in 2019. Her work has also been presented in diverse settings such as universities, museums, galleries, and theatres internationally in Los Angeles, Chicago,  London, Lund, Salzburg, Geneva, Hamburg, Berlin, Amsterdam, Chennai, and Bangalore to name a few. With a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, Priya is the author of “Sweating Saris: Indian Dance as Transnational Labour” which looks at the connection between decolonization, citizenship, immigration and dance.

Image Credit: Dr Priya Srinivasan.

This event is a part of Emerge in Yarra 2019.


CALD, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, LGBTIQA+ people, People with disability and concession card holders will have FREE access to all events. (self-identification required only)

We ask all non-identifying allies to pay the ticket price of $10.

More information about MAV’s trial ticketing policy here.

Featured Image credit: Sista Zai Zanda.
AfrikaSpeaksBack Photo Series.
Lensed by cottoncakediaries.
Produced by Ntombi Moyo
Threads by Sha Gaze x Goo Life clothing
Earrings by Ovazania


October 19, 2019
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm