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Liss Gabb, Ez Eldin Deng and Geskeva-Lola Komba

Who's in the Building? The Art of Embodied Practice

cohealth Arts Generator is an awarding winning, participatory arts provider based in Melbourne’s Western suburbs. cohealth Arts Generator is driven by an unflinching commitment to supporting vulnerable communities to access, make and participate in great art that enriches daily life and increases the wellbeing of all.

cohealth Arts Generator’s Coordinator, Liss Gabb will present a unique and innovative model of embodied practice that she has been developing and embedding in a range of community arts and health projects. The cohealth model of embodied practice combines the training and mentoring of emerging artists from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, with the delivery of arts projects that utilise the idea of collective imagination to create visceral experiences.

This paper will explore two projects in which cohealth Arts Generator has been investigating the power of embodied practice. One project is the acclaimed Sisters and Brothers program which was a finalist in the VicHealth Health Promotion awards in 2014. In this program, teams of young emerging artists from African, Asian and Pacifica communities work with children from communities that are high in diversity, to actively reduce race based discrimination through collaborative song-writing. The artistic team uses their lived experiences of discrimination as the starting point for the workshops. The relationships developed through this approach are the touchstones for high levels of engagement in what are often considered “hard to reach” individuals and groups.

The second case-study project is titled Be a Brother. This project is focused on supporting young African Australian men to become role models called "Brothers" who support one another to drink less alcohol. The central activity in this project is the creation of short, highly sharable videos made by young African men for young African men. The project team is made up of emerging artists and peer mentors who aim to engender collective imagination to achieve a different future for the next generation of African Australians. This unique pilot project that combines health promotion, participatory arts practice and online social marketing, will be completed in April 2016. Be a Brother has already produced some powerful and compelling results.

Liss GabbLiss Gabb

With over 20 years’ experience in designing, directing and managing arts based projects with marginalised communities, Liss Gabb provides the artistic leadership and management of cohealth Arts Generator, a unique, participatory arts space located in Melbourne’s West. From a theatre background, Liss has developed a social engaged practice that encompasses a wide range of mediums including photography, writing, video installation and performance art forms. Liss provides expertise and advice across cohealth (the largest community health organisation in Australia), to a wide range of partners and to the broader sector. Liss was the winner of the Arts and Health Australia award for Excellence in Art and Community Health in 2014. Liss presents at conferences nationally and internationally in both the arts and health sectors. Liss is currently completing her Masters of Arts (Art in Public Space) at RMIT University.

Ez Eldin DengEz Eldin Deng

Hailing from South Sudan, Ez Eldin Deng is rising above the struggle to become innovative filmmakers After arriving in Australia in 2004, Ez Eldin’s love for film began to grow and in 2007 he finished his VCE studies with an impressive result and his first short film credit to his name. In 2008 he teamed up with professional film maker Thomas Baricevic for the Stories of an African Australia film project in which he created the short film Broken Dreams. The film addresses the plight of a young man struggling against the traditions of his father in an attempt to find a new and more exciting life through Hip Hop.

Since then, Ez Eldin has combined his passion for filmmaking, drama and community development and undertook the VCA’s Community Cultural Development course. Feeling the desire to improve his film making skills, Ez Eldin began the film and television course at VCA 2009, which he is currently completing at Swinburne University.

To date Ez Eldin has twenty-three short films to his name, ten music videos and a number of films and documentaries shot for various community organisations and he has recently initiated his own production company IZZY :/ FILMS. Ez Eldin’s courage, compassion and strength is evident in the powerful nature of his work.

This year Ez Eldin has written and directed three short films for a project called Be A Brother. These films are part of a creative social media campaign designed to help Africans communities to reduce alcohol consumption. This project was produced by Liss Gabb, Co-ordinator of cohealth Arts Generator.

Geskeva-Lola KombaGeskeva-Lola Komba

Geskeva-Lola Komba is a Melbourne based performing artist, a co-founding member, vocalist and emcee of MASSIVE FAM. She has been performing as part of the ensemble, mentoring and teaching music performance in community and school based workshops, festivals and events since 2010. Geskeva is also an active member of the Flemington Theatre Group (FTG), a group of young African artists who create and perform in theatre and interactive forum theatre and was formerly an artist and facilitator with Western Edge Youth Arts.

Enrolled in a Bachelor of Public Health and Health Promotion at Deakin University, Geskeva continues to grow her knowledge of Health Promotion, and is set to combine her interest in Public Health with her passion for the arts to create a platform to showcase the benefits of art in society for promoting individual and community wellbeing.