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
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
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.
Current projects, whether teaching, curating, enabling remain focused on questions of contemporary identity and processes for valuing the role of artists within society.
Recent works embodying this focus are:
* MAPPING - Australian Experimental Practice commissioned for Experimenta REcharge, 2014-16, touring to 8 national galleries and presented as part of NEAF in Perth, 2015.
* SCRIBE - a festival based, audience led live writing process that has been presented 18 times nationally + internationally since 2014.
* addendum; - is responsive to the hours and hours spent with audience members describing in exquisite detail their first memory of encountering an Australian artist who 'marked them' (Mapping) or a live work just experienced (Scribe) revealing a new and more complex question - How as artists can we create embodied, live processes for the continuance of how our work has mattered, that is practice based and respectfully aligned with our First Nations practices of oral and generational knowledge transfer to create uniquely Australian practices rather than seeking to build on colonial and institutionalised models adapted from Europe and the UK.
These projects were all part of a major retrospective in 2023 ARCHIVING THE EPHEMERAL.
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. She currently runs a course in Curation. Disruption + Activation at Federation University and is a Fellow at the State Library of Victoria.