Language: Interdisciplinary public forum - Ian Potter Museum of Art

Language: Interdisciplinary public forum

18 Oct 2019

We have been teaming up with our colleagues at the University of Melbourne to explore timely themes via a series of interdisciplinary forums — and in this one, we engage with the theme of language.

Held to mark the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, our forum on 19 October 2019 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.

Speakers 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 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 publications can be downloaded here:




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

11.10-11.20am Q and A


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


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




Fayen d’Evie | artist and writer

Reading the indecipherable 


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

A newly commissioned performance.




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?


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

The Stasi and the secret language of power

2.50-3.00pm Q and A




Sam Petersen | artist

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


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

Creativity, Machine and Poetry



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