meet us | SERENA CHALKER about revealing a new way of experiencing the (public) space.


Serena Chalker is an independent artist and co-director of Anything Is Valid Dance Theatre. She holds an MA: The Body in Performance from Trinity Laban in London and was the winner of 2017 Sydney Fringe ‘Critics Pick Award’ and named ‘Most Interesting Australian Artist’ in the 2016 Dance Australia Critics Survey. Serena’s works have been performed and presented internationally, including at Crack Theatre Festival (AU), Sydney Fringe (AU), Moving Bodies (BG), Month of Research, Uferstudios (DE), Water Tower Art Fest (BG), Noted Festival (AU), Sofia Underground Festival (BG), Saaren Kartano (FI), Barker Teatteri (FI); Festival Alternativnog Kazališnog Izričaja (HR), Process – Space Art Festival (BG), YouAreHere Festival (AU), PSi #21 Performing Mobilities Symposium (AU), Fringe World Perth (AU, Best Dance Award 2015, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (AU), Springhouse (DE), One to One: Charting the Personal Terrain (UK), Adelaide Fringe (AU, Best Dance Award), MoveMe Festival (AU), and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

More about Serena:

Serena about joining The School Hasselt:

I joined this project in January 2018 and will be staying until the end in May. So far it has been an interesting but challenging experience, where so many things are still being discovered and improvised as we go along, both from an organisational and an artistic point of view. This can sometimes cause conflict, when expectations and reality misalign, but on the other hand it can also force you to focus on the output, to push you to make something that makes the chaos worthwhile. I think that some of the moments of focused output – the workshop with Soren Rosenbak and the Fiction Film Festival have helped to take the research a step closer to bringing my ideas together. I am interested in the role of art in public space, and how through artistic activity we can generate new ways of thinking about and experiencing the world.

I am involved in the Urban Playground, The Library and Spartacus challenges. For me, I am very keen to make a performance in the library and it is the only project that has a potential for live performance. Each person attending the library is their own walking library, of memory, story and experience, and these stories overlap within the physical confines of the building. The unique mix of people and purposes creates an intangible “library” of moments that I am seeking to explore through this project. I am interested in the potential to weave together these stories from an imaginative perspective, through observation, physical movement exploration and written response. Observing, documenting and reflecting on the people and their behaviours in the Library, through this project I am looking to develop a semi-fictional interpretation of how the traces these patrons leave behind overlap. Although the Library is culturally perceived as a quiet zone, there is a rich landscape of activity, naturally occurring sound and memory that bubbles under the surface of this perception. I am interested in how performance can amplify this landscape for an audience, revealing a new way of experiencing the space.

The Urban playground festival team is working quite well together at the moment. I am working with ways to activate the people in the area through how they could perceive and experience the urban environment differently. I am working with chalk interventions over the period of the development of the playground, to take people out of their normal mode of being in a public space. For the Spartacus project I am interested in the idea of the places we pass through, the in-between moments, and how to bring attention to these spaces.

For the Spartacus project I am focusing on the environmental impact of car vs tram travel, to visualise the impact our choices make on the environment. The green spaces on the way to Maastricht are very beautiful and should be protected, and yet overwhelmingly people choose to drive between the two cities. The most popular passenger car last year in Belgium was the Volkswagen Golf, a diesel car. In the 33km trip, a car running efficiently would use around 1.3L of petrol – if you think that some people take this trip twice a day, 5 times a week (especially if you commute), that adds up very quickly (over 600L per year, for just a single car). Diesel cars might be more efficient to run than petrol cars but at the same time they have produce more noxious gases and significantly more particulates. Given that mostly there are only 1-2 people per car during a trip, one tram trip can take up to 100 cars off the road. The emissions are absorbed by the environment, the trees, the plants and the animals, and we should be more mindful of our impact. My work for the Spartacus exhibition will focus on how our actions reflect upon us and how in turn we see the environment through the lens of our choices as consumers.