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Art gallery’s monster teen takeover goes digital

Arts & Culture

The Art Gallery of SA is letting teens mount a digital takeover this Saturday evening with a monster line-up of experiences including Zoom mask-making workshops, an online dance challenge, live music and Dungeons & Dragons games.

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With the gallery currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, all its regular programs – including the Neo events for 13 to 17-year-olds – have had to go into hiatus. However, the Teen Takeover, or “super-sized Neo”, planned to coincide with the 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres has been turned into a fully online event.

AGSA teen program officer Bernadette Klavins says the regular free Neo events held throughout the year attract more than 300 teenagers, while the takeovers – usually held only once a year – can draw up to 700.

The Monstrous Neo Digital Teen Takeover enables it to widen that reach event further, with inquiries and bookings for some of the workshops already being received from people in regional South Australia and interstate.

“I think a lot of young people are feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment and need a space to be together,” Klavins says of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Neo experiences offer both escapism and a way to respond to current events, with Klavins saying the opportunity to learn new skills and be creative can boost mental health.

“We make sure that the content is directed by teenagers, so it’s what they want to hear and see.”

Monstrous Neo will launch online at 6pm this Saturday, April 25, and will encompass live events as well as a portal with video, podcasts and other content – all pulled together with 19 Neo Ambassadors from the target age group.

Live events will include a mask-making workshop on Zoom where participants can create a digital disguise with help from SA artist collective The Bait Fridge, and an online dance workshop and challenge with Adelaide dancer and choreographer Petra Szabo inspired by artworks in the Monster Theatres exhibition.

Responding to the resurgence of interest in the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, Neo will also present a series of live online battles led by local artists and educators that are suitable for both beginners and more experienced players.

“The whole program is in relation to Monster Theatres, so each element is inspired by an artwork or responds creatively to the exhibition in some way,” Klavins says.

Live-streaming from 6pm will be a series of music performances by SA teenage musicians Angus Brill Reed (who had a song shortlisted for Australia’s entry in the 2020 Eurovision), Otto Lastname, Sofia Menguita, and sister duo Ella & Sienna.

The AGAS’s Neo Teen Takeover events attract hundreds of teenagers to the gallery. Photo: Nat Rogers

The Monstrous Neo portal includes a range of tutorials, challenges and interactive experiences, including a data-moshing video tutorial by artist Jess Taylor, a time-lapse robot build by Adelaide Robotics Academy, an animated crocheting tutorial, an artwork-inspired yoga session and an Instagram drawing challenge.

“We see this as a resource that we can keep building on,” says Klavins.

“We’ll launch it this Saturday with some really exclusive live experiences but then teens can keep returning to the portal and exploring different pieces of content on there.”

Monstrous Neo launches online at 6pm this Saturday, April 25, with the full program available here. Bookings are open now for the workshops.

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