the lead artist for CreativesofColour.com
Hi and salam kenal!
My name is Rani Pramesti and I'm the lead artist for CreativesofColour.com
I’m a proud Peranakan-Chinese-Javanese-Indonesian woman who has the privilege of living, working and learning between Kulin Country (Narrm, Melbourne), Jakarta (Indonesia) and Ohlone Country (San Francisco).
For the past twelve years, I have been contributing to society as a performance maker, an intercultural producer and an advocate for diversity in the arts. In 2019, I was commissioned by Diversity Arts Australia to contribute a work to 'Pacesetters: messages from artists who push the boundaries' and so CreativesofColour.com was born!
As a Creative of Colour in ‘Australia’, I often find that instead of being able to focus on my creative work, I end up spending time, energy and resources navigating predominantly White institutions, spaces and relationships. I balance a double-edged sword of educating White people in positions of power on White Privilege, whilst simultaneously performing mental and emotional gymnastics to pick my way through extremely unsafe contexts for Creatives of Colour to develop our work in. The above experiences are symptoms of a colonised arts and cultural sector, which is mirroring the bigger and on-going colonisation project that is ‘Australia’.
It is 2019. I am angry, depleted and questioning why I should keep going in an industry that pays so much lip service to ‘diversity’ and yet fails time and time again to unpack White Privilege and colonisation, in order to create environments where First Nations and People of Colour can thrive.
Crunching the numbers
CreativesofColour.com is my attempt at maintaining hope in the face of White Supremacist oppression and the dire statistics that mirror these structural inequalities in the arts. Theatre Network Australia’s survey, ‘This is how we do it: working trends of independent artists, creatives and arts workers in Australia’ (2018), revealed that of the 'emerging' artists who responded, 34% identified as CaLD. However, out of the artists that identified as ‘established’, with more than ten years of professional practice, this number drops drastically to 14%.
What is CreativesofColour.com?
CreativesofColour.com will feature a series of curated interviews with 'established' Creatives of Colour- those of us who persisted in our professional practice, despite structural and other challenges. My aim is to equip Creatives of Colour with the strategies we need to survive and who knows, maybe eventually, thrive!
Solidarity vs Erasure
Importantly, I intend ‘Creatives of Colour’ to be a term of solidarity across a spectrum of racialized identities, bodies and lived experiences, to unite creative communities of colour in our struggles.
However, let me be clear that ‘Creatives of Colour’ is NOT intended to erase the distinct differences between the experiences of First Nations and People of Colour more broadly. I want to acknowledge that the struggle of First Nations people for sovereignty is a unique struggle. (Thank you to one of our first interviewees, Eugenia Flynn, for articulating this point so clearly.)
Owning my privileges
And another thing- I would like to be transparent about the privileges that I have had access to (and continue to have access to), which have enabled me in all facets of my life, including in my ability to make CreativesofColour.com
I am (among other things): a person without disability, thin, light skinned, tertiary educated, upper middle class, tri-lingual, person of "female Asian" appearance, who has cultural capital and have had the privilege of living in major cities on Noongar Country, Gadigal Country and Kulin Country for the past twenty years. I couldn't possibly represent or claim to represent or speak on behalf of all People of Colour, anywhere. In fact, that would be perpetuating a gross injustice.
Calling Creatives of Colour
So, if you are a Creative of Colour who would like to make use of this platform (maybe you want to host your own interviews responding to the most urgent issues facing you/ your communities), please reach out. Let's see how we can work together.
We have built a Call-out page. Fill it out and let's stay in touch. You're also welcomed to email me directly at rani.pramesti (at) gmail.com Also, there is a page of Survival Strategies for Creatives of Colour that you can add to!
The collaborative model behind CreativesofColour.com
Finally, in order to have a sustainable creative practice, I have on-going collaborations with creatives in the Asia Pacific region, particularly in Jakarta, Indonesia, where the intersection between art and technology is currently teeming with activity! My hope is that moving forward, we will attract more financial support so this toolkit can keep expanding, in collaboration with Creatives of Colour in 'Australia' and internationally.
Salam kenal and thank you for being a part of this community. Let's rise up, together!
"I have tried to create spaces, rather than say "You're not giving me space in your institution or your pathway". I'm actually trying to find another alternate space altogether. And this is where I do feel we're taught as artists that there is a lack and there is less. But I actually believe that we can create more. We can actually absolutely create more spaces if we choose it, if we find pathways, if we work together rather than against each other. I really do think we can create those pathways."
"I sometimes wonder about the term "people of colour". I get it as an umbrella term - I think that it speaks a lot more to race politics overseas than it does here. And I think that, for me, particularly as an Indigenous woman, that identifying as First Nations is important because that is about sovereignty. That is about connection to Country. And that also is about a really unique perspective, a really unique identity, a unique struggle, that if you lump all people of colour together, really erases that. And if we're talking about Australia, the central issue in Australia is about that takeover, or that denial, of First Nations people's sovereignty to have the state of Australia over the top."
"Your artistry is your child.. This is years of understanding this: the most beautiful part of me is my child, and your child is your spontaneity, your creativity. And if she doesn't want to go to work, it's like, "Oh my God, we're going to look like shit today. Please come to work!""