Mikelangelo tells Andrew Gray of South East Arts about his journey with Project Cosmopolitana, so far…

 

I’ve been writing songs and performing for over 25 years. In most cases the process of generating work has been something I’ve done on my own or with a small tight knit group of trusted collaborators. Project Cosmopolitana has opened this up and has given me a whole new perspective on my own practice and ways to work with other artists and with members of the Cooma and Snowies community. It has required a deep trust in myself and in others, as we share stories, often personal, and use elements of these stories as the basis of new work.

My father came to Australia from Yugoslavia, he is Croatian, in the 1960s and worked on the Scheme before he met my mother. So the Snowies have always been a place of interest to me but Dad has always been pretty tight lipped about his time there.

It’s been wonderful meeting strangers in Cooma who have opened up about their experiences during in the simmering cultural hotpot of Cooma and the Snowyies in the 50s and 60s. Many have trusted us with their stories and in so doing, we’ve gotten to know each other. When we play new songs we’ve written to this community, there is a lovely spark of recognition and celebration.

At the same time, we have been meeting and working with teenagers in high school, which has been entirely different in terms of the individuals and experiences, yet similar in the building of trust and the sharing of personal stories. It’s a privilege to be invited into these private worlds. Everyone has stories to tell and they are all fascinating, bringing to life people and places and experiences that are at the same time similar yet profoundly different to my own. This is the stuff that makes the world a vibrant place and helps us bridge difference and realise how much we all have in common.

I look forward to seeing where Project Cosmopolitana takes us all next.

 


 

Concert Cosmpolitana takes place on 2 May in Cooma – a free evening of food, music and performance featuring a cast of Cooma locals, original Cooma songs by Mikelangelo & the Black Sea Gentlemen and short theatre performances celebrating Cooma’s heritage. Concert Cosmopolitana celebrates the rich underbelly of Cooma’s stories through music, poetry, movement and performance. The event is part of the broader Project Cosmopolitana. Contact rose@bighart.org for more information, bookings essential through Cooma Visitor’s Centre.
Ghosts in the Scheme will be showing at the Canberra Theatre in September.