Testifying to Grief Through Art with Iqbal Barkat and Milissa Deitz

How do the processes of art and grieving attempt to find meaning in the chaos of the void? How do we create in the storm that is propelling us forward? Based on our digital essay,  All the Little Boxes, we will consider how the digital essay gives voice to our ‘psychic chiasmus’.  The essay exposes our vulnerabilities and our pretense at a unified self. It constructs no scaffolding.  But its elements form a constellation that crystallize through movement, revealing what Walter Benjamin calls“a not-yet-conscious knowledge of what has been”.

When Milissa’s little girl died unexpectedly, her mind fractured. In order to show the vertigo, disassociation and hyperarousal of what is known as complicated grief, the non-confluence between image, sound and word was uppermost in conceptualising All the Little Boxes. Written by Milissa Deitz and directed by Iqbal Barkat.

 This digital essay explores non-traditional storytelling in order to theorise, ritualise and create from the state of bereavement, encouraging viewers to recognise grief as an essential part of life.

 Bring along writing implements and any (basic) device for capturing digital images.

Iqbal Barkat is a digital artist and filmmaker. His artistic practice is based in Western Sydney which is also the home of Filigree Films, the filmmaking company he co-founded. He lectures in screen production at Macquarie University. Iqbal was born in Singapore and began his career in theatre as Artistic Director of Gung Ho Theatre Ensemble. He is a proponent and practitioner of community and participatory arts specializing in works involving a combination of actors and non-actors. His works are often hybrid as they emanate from real settings but include fictional elements and involve the intersection of digital media with other art forms. He co-authored a major Australian Tertiary text on media production, Screen Media Arts (OUP, 2009). Screen Media Arts won the Tertiary Teaching and Learning Category at the Australian Publishing Awards.  He is currently working on a project that explores the outsider and Islam. The first development showing of this work, Terrorist/Apostate, was at Parramatta Riverside Theatres in May 2017.

Milissa Deitz lectures in communication and digital media at Western Sydney University. She is a journalist and novelist. Milissa's book Watch This Space: The Future of Australian Journalism (2010) was published by Cambridge University Press. Her novel Bloodlust and non-fiction title My Life As A Side Effect are both published by Random House. Her research and scholarly interests include grief, identity and family; voice and the marginalised within digital storytelling (The Right To Know: 100 Years of the Australian Red Cross International Tracing Service, Immigration Museum, Melbourne 2015); and young people, wellbeing and technology (wwwinvisiblecity.org.au).