Language: Interdisciplinary Forum - Ian Potter Museum of Art

Language: Interdisciplinary Forum

18 Oct 2019 — 18 Oct 2019

Language: Interdisciplinary forum

In 2019, we teamed up with our colleagues at the University of Melbourne to explore timely themes via a series of interdisciplinary forums — and in this one, we invite you to join us as we engage with the theme of language.

Held to mark the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, our second forum featured artists, performers and researchers from a range of disciplines exploring language in its many forms. Throughout the day, speakers shared insights into non-verbal and non-human forms of communication; Indigenous languages; and the relationship between language and power.

Speaker included Beth Sometimes, Amelia Turner and Shirley Turner who introduced audiences to Apmere angkentye-kenhe (a place for language) in Mparntwe/Alice Springs; Professor Alison Lewis who looked back on the Stasi and the secret language of power, and Professor Mark Elgar, who delved into the question of whether animals have language. The full program is listed below with their corresponding videos and they can also be watched on our YouTube channel.

The forum also featured What might be obvious to me may not be obvious to others, a performance lecture by artist Sam Petersen and a newly commissioned performance of Fayen d’Evie and Benjamin Hancock’s Essays in vibrational poetics {~~} … , … ; … 2019.

The forum publication can be viewed here:


9.30am – 10am REGISTRATION / COFFEE (provided)


Welcome to Country

Introduction | Kelly Gellatly | Director, Ian Potter Museum of Art 



Harley Dunolly-Lee | proud Dja Dja Wurrung person and speaker; community linguist at the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages.

Working with Communities


Associate Professor Richard Frankland | Associate Professor Cross-Disciplinary Practice, School of Theatre & School of Film & Television, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, University of Melbourne

The language of tomorrow’s Australia

Video here.

11.10–11.20am Q and A

11.20–11.40am MORNING TEA (provided)


Beth Sometimes | artist, interpreter/translator and language worker

Amelia Kngwarraye Turner | Arrernte cultural leader, angangkere (traditional healer) and artist

Shirley Kngwarraye Turner | educator, cultural worker and poet

Apmere angkentye-kenhe

Video here.


Dr Jennifer Green | DECRA Research Fellow in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, University of Melbourne, supported by RUIL (the Research Unit for Indigenous Language) and CoEDL (the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language)

Visible talk: Australian Indigenous sign languages

12.30–12.40pm Q and A

12.40–1.30pm LUNCH (provided)



Fayen d’Evie | artist and writer

Reading the indecipherable 


Fayen d’Evie and Benjamin Hancock | Essays in vibrational poetics {~~} … , … ; … 2019

A newly commissioned performance.

Watch the video.



Professor John Hajek | Professor of Italian Studies, Director of RUMACCC, School of Languages and Linguistics, University of Melbourne

Language conflict in Italy and Belgium – a European disease?

Video here.


Professor Alison Lewis | Professor, School of Languages and Linguistics, University of Melbourne

The Stasi and the secret language of power

Video here.

2.50–3.00pm Q and A

3.00–3.20pm AFTERNOON TEA (provided)



Sam Petersen | artist

Lecture Performance | What might be obvious to me may not be obvious to others. 

Video here.



Dr Jey Han Lau | School of Computing and Information Systems, University of Melbourne

Creativity, Machine and Poetry

Video here.


Professor Mark Elgar | Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Animal Behaviour, School of BioSciences, Faculty of Science, University of Melbourne 

Do animals have language?

Video here.

4.20–4.30pm Q and A / close