Sarah-Jane Norman is a cross-disciplinary artist and writer of mixed British and Indigenous Australian heritage with ties to both Wannarua and Wiradjuri Nations. Her latest body of work is preoccupied with the complex legacy of colonialism as an embodied phenomena. She considers the body as a spectacle of truth and a theatre of fantasy; a siphon of personal and collective memory; an organism with which we are infinitely familiar and eternally estranged; a site which is equally loaded and empty of meaning, where histories, narratives, desires and discourses converge and collapse. Her works indicate a sometime preoccupation with cultural tropes of romantic love, transience and the interplay of desire and loneliness, while others explore the very different territory of race and colonial trauma.
At the Next Wave Festival 2012, Sarah-Jane presented the durational performance installation Bone Library, a five day process of engraving a complete dictionary of Indigenous Australian languages which have been classified as “extinct”, onto the prepared bones of sheep and beef cattle. The work aims to draw public attention to the issue of language extinction; also, to provoke audiences into active remembrance.
For the Next Wave Festival 2014, she presented Concerto No.3, a grueling 12 hour performance piece which saw Sarah-Jane and five other “postvirtuosic” pianists working in shifts to sight-read their way through Rachmaninoff’s famously fearsome score, Concerto No. 3. A challenge to the fetish of “greatness” the project asked how we might make a space to contemplate the beauty, humanity and the transformative potential of failure.