The inaugural Festival of Jewish Arts and Music (FOJAM) takes over Melbourne Recital Centre for a day of music, performance, moving image, talks and storytelling this September. Prompted by Lou Reed’s urgent call to ‘Walk on the Wild Side’, this year’s program features 135 artists who are breaking with convention to carve new paths.
Take a closer look at five of FOJAM's international artists coming to Australia for the first time this September.
Zackary Drucker is an independent artist, cultural producer and trans woman who breaks down the way we think about gender, sexuality and seeing. She's a producer on the Golden Globe-winning Amazon series Transparent and also happens to be the niece of legendary trans activist, Holly Woodlawn — who is the 'Holly' that has been immortalised in Lou Reed's iconic song and FOJAM's 2019 theme.
'Sometimes I hear the faint verses of 'Walk on the Wild Side' while rolling my shopping cart through a grocery store or sitting in a doctor’s office. Lou Reed's baritone voice narrating my Aunt Holly’s inception: 'Holly came from Miami FLA, hitchhiked way across the USA, plucked her eyebrows on the way, shaved her legs, then he was a she. She said ‘hey babe, take a walk on the wild side…'' People around me are unaware of who Holly Woodlawn was, let alone that this song about a trans pioneer was written almost 50 years ago. Whether we know the names of our predecessors or not, they are touching us, they are within us, infusing our DNA with strength, celebrating our every victory, and reinforcing us through every injustice.'
Music journalist, academic, writer, educator and post-punk musician Vivien Goldman aka 'the Punk Professor', was a pioneering London punk journalist in the 1970s, covering bands like Patti Smith, Slits and the Raincoats.
Goldman comes to Australia for the first time to coincide with the release of her new book: 'Revenge of the She-Punks - A Feminist History from Poly Styrene to Pussy Riot', hailed by Rolling Stone as a must-read.
Chris Cohen is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and producer best known for his solo albums as well as being a member of the indie band Deerhoof. His third self-titled LP is his most deeply personal album to date — a work of radical transparency inspired by the dissolution of his parents’ marriage and his father’s addiction.
'Great songwriters have always been able to twist pain and confusion into beautiful shapes, but what Cohen accomplishes on his third record goes even beyond that. Empathetic, unflinching, and filled with hooky melodies, the album communicates feelings verbally and non-verbally. Chris Cohen presents its creator unobscured.' Read Aquarium Drunkard's full interview with Cohen here.
Hailed as a rising star in Tel Aviv's EDM scene, Noga Erez wants people to have fun at her shows. Born four days before the start of the Gulf War in Israel in 1990, Erez finds sanctuary in creating music. There's a tension in her work that's hard to ignore. Her grainy textures and potent atmospheres forged with synths and ingenious beats bravely straddle genres, energised further by the environment in which she’s grown up.
'Our way of trying to keep in contact with our feelings and fears, and of avoiding emotional detachment about everything, is music. Human beings can come from completely different places but share a fundamental basis of emotions. In my opinion, music is the form of art or communication that expresses that most accurately.'
A force in the burgeoning female-dominated electronic music scene in Tel Aviv, Noga Erez's unmissable set closes FOJAM 2019.
Having won the first drag competition at the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival, it's best we let Avante-Garde Israeli drag queen Asis D'Orange speak for themselves.
'People always want peace and security through homogeneity, but variety is actually what produces my sense of security. I don’t look for comfort at all. Orgasm, for instance, isn’t comfortable, but it’s anchoring. Discomfort isn’t something I’m afraid of; comfort isn’t a value.'
'I try to be in dialogue with my inner voices all the time. I have both a man and a woman inside me, both a religious person who eats kosher and a gay man who dances in tight clothes on a truck...I try to examine my feelings, my rages, my jealousy. It’s controlled schizophrenia.' Click here to read the full Haaretz article.