Leisa Shelton is a performance artist /maker and curator with a practice that foregrounds collaboration and an advocacy for new Australian transdisciplinary work. Leisa’s current practice is focused on Curatorship and Development of new frames for the presentation and development of Performance.
This shift in direction from having worked nationally and internationally as a performer, maker, director and teacher of performance, evolved out of a recognition of distinct gaps in the cultural landscape for opportunities that offered greater visibility and recognition for Australian Contemporary Performance.
In 2009, through an Australia Council cultural leadership grant with mentor Kristy Edmonds, she was an artist in residence with Spill festival in London, a guest artist at the Armory in NY, The Chicago Art Institute, Chicago and UCLA. In the same year, she was invited to Taiwan, as a member of the International jury for the prestigious Taishin Art Prize beginning a series of long-term collaborative relationships with Taiwanese artists, festivals and organizations with projects currently in conversation for as far as 2019.
In 2012, in Taiwan Leisa met Andreas Pagnes and Verena Stendke as they developed their visionary project – the VENICE INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE ART WEEK, a trilogy of Performance Art Weeks – 2012, 2014 + 2016 which has become the most respected and exhilarating gathering of Performance Artists happening in the world right now. Leisa was invited to join the team of International Co-Curators to bring the work of exceptional Australian artists into this International gathering.
This collaboration led to the representation and celebration of Australian Performance Art and Artists across all 3 programs. Launching in 2012, with seminal artist Jill Orr, followed in 2014 with a curated program of live works by Barbara Campbell, Sarah-Jane Norman and Julie Vulcan culminating in 2016, with contemporary artists Casey Jenkins and James McAllister presenting new durational works and the first Venice presentation of video works and Archival documents by STELARC, who also presented a Performed Lecture as part of the ‘Legacy of Performance Artists’ alongside ORLAN, Franko B and Marcel.li Antunez Roca.
In a continuing dialogue with artists and festivals in Taiwan, Leisa initiated and led the 2015 eXchange, a program of cultural and practice exchange between artists and festivals in Melbourne and Taipei. eXchange is an on-going new work program focused on reciprocity and intercultural dialogue, bringing together multidisciplinary artists, from Taipei and Melbourne. The 2015 eXchange was presented in Partnership with Dance Massive, Melbourne and Taipei Arts Festival, Taiwan.
In 2017, Leisa was invited to facilitate the Inaugurial artists LAB, as part of the Taipei Performancing Arts Centres 5 year project – ADAM – bringing together artists, venues, producers and cultural leaders from across AustralAsia toward future collaborations and cross cultural performance development.
In her own performance practice, Leisa’s most recent live works are – Mapping and SCRIBE:
Mapping Australian Media Art featured in Experimenta Recharge: 6th International Biennial of Media Art touring nationally until 2014-16. Mapping traces a shared history of Australian media art and its artists and sits alongside Mapping Australian Live Art and Performance, which was commissioned for the 2014 Festival of Live Art FOLA, with Arts House, Melbourne.
SCRIBE is a live writing project within festival and event contexts in which artist Scribes capture the experience of members of the public to create the democratic document of the festival. Scribe was commissioned by Arts House Melbourne for the 2015 Festival of Live Art, re-commissioned for the Spill Festival in the UK, Dance Massive, Melbourne and will be the public document for the 2018 Kier Awards.
Leisa’s practice also has a continuous commitment to bringing Environmental Sustainability into focus through the arts and enabling more Sustainable Arts Practices. She is a co-facilitator with Tipping Point Australia, a graduate of the Centre for Sustainable Leadership and lecturer with the Centre for Community Cultural Partnerships at the VCA, University of Melbourne.
Leisa’s teaching practice in performance has seen her as Head of Performance at the VCA, Melbourne 1998-2004, Head of VCA Post Graduate Performance Making, 2007-2012, Lecturer with the Centre for Idea, VCA Melbourne 2004-2014 and Lecturer with the Centre for Community and Cultural Partnerships, VCA. Internationally she has been a guest artist of TTRP Singapore, TNUA Taiwan, DasArts Amsterdam and at major national gatherings and institutions across Australia.