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May 15, 2019
Culture

Former Adelaide Writers’ Week director Laura Kroetsch joins JLF Adelaide for OzAsia 2019

In JLF Adelaide’s sophomore event, expect the madness of the world-renowned Indian festival with the boundary-pushing attitude of Dark Mofo’s Dark & Dangerous Thoughts.

  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Main image: Supplied

JLF Adelaide, the local iteration of India’s Jaipur Literature Festival, which joined the OzAsia program last year, has announced Laura Kroetsch has joined the team as a producer for its upcoming 2019 event.

Formerly the director of Adelaide Writers’ Week before joining Dark Mofo last year as the director of its ideas festival component, Dark & Dangerous Thoughts, Laura will build upon the work of OzAsia’s director, Joseph Mitchell, to “[allow] some of the madness just to come with Jaipur, and not try to shove it into the Australian mould.”

Remarks

JLF Adelaide will happen in November 2019 as part of OzAsia Festival.

Both the OzAsia and JLF Adelaide programs are scheduled to be released in August.

OzAsia Festival

Laura ran a stage at last year’s JLF Adelaide, and as producer this year will continue to use the platform to provoke conversation through an Asia-Pacific lens.

“It’s the only festival where the focus is just Australia and Asia – given we are in it – so Europe isn’t there,” Laura says.

“Eventually we’ve got to realise that we’re in the Asia-Pacific region and we have to engage more culturally with that place.”

While Laura and Joseph are still in discussions about what the focus of JLF Adelaide will be this year, both see a need to discuss an anxiety they’ve noticed in Australian audiences about some of our Pacific neighbours.

“We have enormous anxieties in Australia about Asia, particularly Indonesia and China,” Laura says.

“Joseph has also noticed this anxiety about China, and that we get very nervous. Obviously it’s not going away, so we want to keep exploring those things.”

Alongside conversations with and about our neighbours, JLF Adelaide will also discuss more globalised themes.

“One of the things I thought would be really interesting to talk about would be ageing and death, because we’re pretty uncomfortable with it in the West,” Laura says.

“It’s really important to Joseph and to me that there’s an Indigenous voice there, and that is also such a big part of the Indian experience, of what does it mean to be indigenous?

“They’re pretty big and lofty [themes] right now, but I do think that the issues around identity politics are fascinating.”

Working with Dark Mofo, the Tasmanian arts festival run by the minds behind Hobart’s Museum of Old and new Art, was “a different world,” Laura says, and programming for a Mona audience shaped her thinking around how literary and ideas festivals should operate.

“It was a really interesting learning curve for me, but it also made me really aware of my left bias, and it really made me go ‘Ok, I do like to preach to the converted, apparently,’” Laura says.

“The thing that we do [at Dark Mofo] that’s a bit different, is we try to present all political sides. So last year that was hard for people to understand a little bit. Some of the journalists who really identified as left were like ‘You can’t do that.’ I’m like ‘We can.’

“One of the things that was really interesting about some of the Indian writers [at JLF Adelaide] was the candour with which they spoke about poverty.

“The plight of women in India is eye watering. You know, I’m hoping that we bring that experience here to talk about some of the things that we’re anxious about.”

The full lineup for both OzAsia and JLF Adelaide is due out in August.

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