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Inside the studios – Maximised supported artist Sarah Aiken on her new work: SARAH AIKEN (tools for personal expansion)

CM: Tell us about your work SARAH AIKEN and the journey of the development of this work?
 
SA: SARAH AIKEN (tools for personal expansion) is a study into social, digital & physical means of expanding the self. Existing simultaneously between digital & physical formats; I augment & expand my self, engaging the performers and audience to do my bidding, extending my ability to act on the world through every platform and making sure everyone remembers my name. It is about personal power, about attempts to be heard and seen, to take up space and allow identity to expand beyond physical limitation but also, considering finite resources, the compromises that facilitate these expansions. SARAH AIKEN looks at how we live in the world, the versions of ourselves we curate, our output, achievements and the versions that others hold of us; how much we control these variants, and how much they shape us. The work critiques the gendered occupation of space and the worship of progress, development and continual growth, observing what retracts as we reach further. Considering environmental, social and emotional repercussions of a culture driven by reach, progress & personal branding, the work holds within it the tension between ambition, empowerment, and sustainability.
 
I started making this work in 2016 for the Keir Choreographic Awards, we performed it in Melbourne and Sydney as a 20-minute work. Over the last few months I’ve started redeveloping it into a full-length work. My works have a really strong link to each other, each one coming from realisations about the one before so this one really relates to SET, a work that I created as Dancehouse Housemate in 2015 and references it really directly. 
 
CM: How do you find inspiration for your work?
SA: My work comes from my perspective and what I’m thinking about, and I feel like I can’t be that unique, so hopefully it relates to other peoples perspectives too. I’m interested in the conflicts and slipperiness of living in the world, living with yourself and with other people and the hypocrisy of human impact; being good, trying hard, ambition, compassion, and you know, being a modern woman. I’m interested in the multiplicity of every person/object/situation/event and using the framework of performance/the theatre, to subtly (and sometimes really obviously) shift attention and perspectives. I’m inspired to make work that lots of different people can have different access to and perspectives on, like some people think its funny and some people think its clever and some people think its sad, or dumb, or beautiful.
CM: How has Maximised helped you develop this work further?
SA: Having space and support is so important, and residencies like Maximised help in making sure every dollar of arts funding is spent well. This project has been supported by Australian Cultural Partnerships and 96 incredibly generous and amazing supporters through a Matched crowd funding campaign, so Maximised has meant that I can make these generous donations stretch even further. Chunky Move has been such a great support to me in so many ways and it feels great to have their backing. It’s such a privilege to be able to work in such a great organisation and in such amazing spaces.
CM: Where will you be taking this work after Maximised?
SA: We’re going up to Brisbane to present it at Metro Arts in December (6th to 9th, tell your friends!!) and I’d love to take it further so we’ll see.