Testing Grounds

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Testing Grounds

Testing Grounds

Ava Amedi studio


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During Ava’s time on site, he will work on a project called ‘Where Are You Now?’. It will address a problem that many artists face: the expectation to speak in grandiose terms about their practises when in public, a constant projection of excellence for those who consume their work. Through the intimacy offered by an interview with a small audience, ‘Where are you now?’ will instead allow artists to take stock of where their careers currently stand.

Ava Amedi is a writer and musician. He’s interested in pop-songwriting, artist interview and various non-fiction writing styles. His recent work has been made with the support of Arts House, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Un Projects and Djed Press.

You can find Ava on Instagram @alumied or email him at hello@aamedi.me

Ava Amedi

November 2019

This is my first ever studio residency. So the first thing I’ve been experimenting with is time, shifting my schedule around to be as on-site as much as possible. I’m also experimenting with my newfound title of ‘artist with a residency under his belt’. It’s been interesting moving into the world of professional artistry, I admire the work of the residents I’m getting to know. I’ve been making music, bringing people into space and writing a lot. I finalised my piece for ACCA in the studio, and I am working on music/ articles atm. Super excited for what’s coming ?


I might just riff on the idea of what questions are playing in my head atm, in regards to what brought me to these experiments. Am I a musician? Can I actually push through the malaise and make some work I’m proud of/ feels publishable? Will I be at the studio for long enough during my stay? (I’m currently aiming for at least 15 days a month). Will the interview series be successful? There are vulnerabilities and doubt swimming around my head, I hope to clear a lot of it up moving forward.


Getting people onto the site has been a new experience for me, being like ‘hey you’re my friend, I like your work, please come and visit me’. I’m trying to have the studio be a place for people I admire to come and do some work, feel friendly. I’m reading allot of Jia Tolentino atm. Cultural criticism and non-fiction, in general, is central to my own writing, performing and interview styles. I’m also discussing the project allot with people, pulling people onsite to work at my desk feels like an act of research and experimentation. Being able to offer the opportunity of workspace to people is great. Also, the site is making me realise how inept I am at making things with my hands, I might try to challenge that moving forward.

My piece ‘Paintings and Pop’ will be released in late November by the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA).

Poem by Ava

December 2019

Last month I help my first interview, which happened in front of a small audience with Mossy Pebbles and Fjorn Butler. We explored their working relationship, their co-produced movement piece ‘Haunting the Flesh’ and what they’ve learnt from each other. I found it challenging, as I was coming from a bizarre week of work and emotions. I was learning logistical tricks about the venue, and how to better temper my headspace in the face of an important public engagement. I’ve also been working on music; I aim to release some stuff, hopefully before the end of 2019. And I’m thinking about how to incorporate the transcripts of these interviews into a larger whole. I was also experimenting with the goals of the residency; how am I measuring success? What do I want to have completed by the end of March? How can I better give people access to my studio space and time? How might this residency set me up for future creative work? I’m grateful to have time and space to explore these questions.

Doing this residency has exposed me to these questions. All of it feels like growing up; these questions are tied to my emerging artistry, and as someone making work in this economy. I’ve been working through some hard personal circumstance, these questions have anchored me in something tangible and actionable.

 I’m approaching my research with more structure! I’m splitting my time between ‘creative’ and ‘administration’, to better focus my mind. I’m starting my days with administrative work, then trying to split off into creative. Keeping them separate is making more sense to me. To get a bit nerdy, I got a new snazzy iPhone task-management app (my faves are ‘clear’ and ‘things’).

Please look forward to my next interview! It’ll be in January with Roberta Rich from the studio program ? I’m also excited to be interviewing writer Chi Tran. ? 

Chatting on site

February 2020

I’ve been pushing the styles and formats of my interviews. I took multiple interviews ‘in-house’, having them occur one-on-one. Everything attached to my ‘Where Are You Now’ series has happened onsite; I can hear the cars and site infrastructure in the recordings.

My interviewee’s diverged: fellow resident Roberta revealed a mind that works at a rigorous pace to develop slick and nuanced installations. These pieces reflect on dysfunctions, losses, race, where and when we are.

Ch Trani is sharp, and a wonder to listen to. Our chat ranged from the undisguised power of instagram, the role of sincerity and conviction, the potential that lies with mentors, what international cities have given to them.

Choreographer and dancer Ogemdi Ude was in town for a week (From Lenape Country, New York). The last time I’d seen her was 3.5 years ago during her performance of ‘SOMA’ in Naarm. Something I took from my time with her was the value of documentation, how it deserves $$$ and consideration.

Writer, director and musician Paul Gorrie’s life rolls into his work in a particular way. His creative work shares a symbiotic relationship with his political work.

Though influenced by logistics, my decision to have certain interviews be one-on-one was to sharpen my interviewing chops further. Both formats have offered a challenge: I’ve been learning to keep a live audience abreast of an artists practise during our discussion, in the case that audiences aren’t as familiar with the work as we are. Workshopping the interview space and online advertising have all been part of the live-interview process.

With one-on-one interviews I ask myself: how can I maintain someones engagement and shape a conversation the right way?

 Here’s a quote from my interview with Chi Tran:

“I believe in this idea… it’s a piece of advice that I learnt from my mentor Mei Mei (Berssenbrugge). She says, once you think/say something it lives on. It doesn’t just dissipate. It has energy and life to it, and once it goes out into the world it breathes and continues breathing.”

As I comb through these interviews, and organising future ones, I’m starting to figure out what comes next… where do these interviews go? What kind of work can they be the seeds of?

 I try my best to be onsite as much as possible, to give as much time to this project as possible, and to attempt kindness when I fail. I’ve done little things like refined my budgeting, gotten a better time-keeping rhythm and

A regular day onsite: I enter the studio, change into clothes I’ve brought (comfy gym clothes, rather than the stiff jeans I’d wear to the site) and clean up my workspace. I’d write in my diary, noting my attendance onsite and open up my laptop. My days seem to consist of admin, research, writing and music making.

 When things get exasperating, you can find my lying on the floor at times. Then I try to do some yoga moves I learnt, stay away from a screen for a couple of minutes, and get back to things.

I’m highlighting this banality because I think these processes are making me understand what it means to have a ‘practise’. With consistency and repetition I feel my work grow and develop.

 There’s SO MUCH TRANSCRIBING TO DO. But I’m moving through it all, and I’ll comb through the results to understand what comes next.

I have more interviews to announce that I’m super excited for. I’m hoping to take us to the club, the brain of a genius and the hive of a collective. Keep an eye out pls ?

March 2020

My focus is shifting to music, as I figure out the direction of my ‘Where Are You Now?’ project; I’m excited for that project’s future, but don’t have much to share at the moment. I’m plugging away at new melodic concepts, lyrics and ways of storytelling. I’ve also been nailing down my creative/professional workflow as always.

I’ve been wanting to develop music during my time on site. It took me three months to work on a single song whose quality I was proud of, I’m wanting to ramp up my turnaround time. Write and write and write and write. And sing. And perform.

Physical exercise is really getting my in the headspace to make creative work, stretching and getting inspired. I love listening to podcasts where artists I admire explain how they make their work. Pitchfork’s recent artist profiles have also been good.

I need to finally admit… That I am ADDICTED to Tik Tok. Witnessing songs transform into memes and from there transform into viral hits is super interesting. People’s relationships with these songs are often down to 10-second snippets, which poses an interesting songwriting challenge.

As is often said by Japanese video-game developers when spruiking their anticipated, but delayed releases: Please look forward to future updates ?

April 2020

Where Are You Now? is a series of live intimate-scale interviews with artists and an accompanying audience; exploring what it means to make work today, and where artists currently stand in their practice. Thanks to my time at Testing Grounds, this project will be significantly expanded in the second half of 2020.

As expected, my project is still in development; I’m proud of all I accomplished onsite. I executed, recorded and transcribed five onsite interviews. I look forward to presenting my work in an expanded form down the track. 

I need financial assistance to cover the logistics of this project, and give me more time to do creative work. I need mentorship and guidance from people with experience in the arts and the literary festival circuit. I need access to institutions via being welcomed onsite and further residencies.

Please reach out to me via email at hello@aamedi.me, or via my instagram @alumied


My time at Testing Grounds has been fantastic.This has been a milestone for my creative development. Settling into the program, I was trying to figure out what it meant to be someone with a studio practice; alongside my ‘Where Are You Now?’ project, I’ve been working on music and different pieces of writing. Challenges became present in the form of personal developments, time management crises and learning to stick to my guns creatively.I would begin interviews near the second half of the residency, inviting people onsite to listen. I’m proud of these interview contents’ and the ways they will appear to the public. Onsite I learnt basic and vital skills: solid time management, project management and financial management. I sat amongst other artists onsite and listened to their work and practices. I teamed up with other people of colour, I learnt more from artists who’s work diverged from mine significantly. I’d walk into my studio, stretch and sit. Trying to work, trying to figure out what’s next. I’m grateful for my time onsite.